USC takes flight, Stanford reassesses after weekend upset


Clarice Akunwafo blocks Cameron Brink’s shot. USC Athletics photograph.

Not lengthy after they could possibly be heard screaming of their locker room, USC gamers and their coach introduced their palpable pleasure into Sunday’s post-game press convention with reporters.

The Trojans had simply knocked off No. 2 Stanford, 55-46, for the primary time for the reason that Pac-12 Event in 2014, in addition to not having crushed a workforce ranked that extremely since 2008.

Guard Future Littleton, who lead the hassle with 18 factors and 6 assists, spoke excitedly in regards to the Cardinal’s rally from behind within the third quarter, once they closed their deficit to three, on three totally different events.

“I knew this was going to be a possession sport – I knew simply because we jumped out on them within the first quarter,” Littleton mentioned. “And so once they made their run, I acquired (her teammates) collectively and mentioned ‘Look, we’re nice, simply preserve doing what we’re doing. Don’t take loopy pictures, don’t take fast pictures.”

Coach Lindsay Gottlieb credited her workforce’s composure all through the matchup – particularly down the ultimate stretch.

“I believe that I instructed them…’make performs the place you may make performs,’” Gottlieb mentioned. “We knew it was going to be a tough sport for us. We weren’t good the entire time, however we stayed inside our mentality, and I believe that was unbelievable. And I felt it from everybody on the bench.”

The victory got here precisely per week after a painful one-point loss to crosstown rivals UCLA, which Gottlieb mentioned “tore her up.” Friday USC beat Cal by 20 factors, and towards Stanford, they lead for all however 34 seconds, once they had been tied. Gottlieb mentioned gamers accepted her problem to bounce again from their loss.

“I believed we simply actually took care of enterprise this weekend,” she mentioned. “I believed we executed the sport plan, had been super-tough, and made performs the entire sport.”

The Trojans’ domination of the Cardinal, who till the weekend had misplaced only one sport on the 12 months, was overwhelmingly defensive. They held the guests to a season-low 4 factors within the first quarter on 20 % taking pictures, and 19 % from the three-point line for the complete sport. USC dedicated simply 7 turnovers, whereas forcing Stanford into 14, and so they out-battled the 2021 nationwide champions on most each possession.

Simply as spectacular was the truth that the Trojans, riddled with accidents, pulled off the takedown with simply 7 athletes seeing flooring time. Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, with a full roster, progressively inserted new mixtures because the workforce’s power continued to stay stagnant, till 13 had logged minutes by the ultimate buzzer.

Okako Adika added 11 factors and 11 rebounds for USC. Cameron Brink scored 11 factors and grabbed 14 rebounds for Stanford, whereas Haley Jones had 8 factors and 12 rebounds.

VanDerveer pointed to the shortage of shot-making and extreme turnovers for the loss, but additionally acknowledged her workforce’s poor total efficiency.

“I don’t know that we may (have accomplished) something any worse,” she mentioned. “This needs to be a all-time low simply by way of execution, offensively. Lack of screening….they acquired to the free throw line 26 occasions.”

Okako Adika blows by the Stanford protection. USC Athletics photograph.

For the Trojans, who at the moment are receiving votes within the AP high 25 ballot, the upset represents a giant step within the growth of an overhauled roster that features seven graduate transfers from colleges everywhere in the nation. Gottlieb mentioned the endurance of coaches and athletes to weave all of it collectively is starting to pay dividends.

“I do really feel like we’re doing a greater job of determining our roles and our identities,” she mentioned. “You simply want everybody being a superb model of themselves, and I believe that that’s what we’re rounding into, and that’s what helped us get the win right this moment.”

Littleton mentioned her teammates who couldn’t go well with up performed a giant half within the win with their sideline scouting.

“Each time I got here to the bench they had been telling me, ‘preserve taking pictures your pictures there,’ or ‘this look is over there.’ They had been telling me issues I wasn’t seeing on the ground,” she mentioned. “Our workforce is absolutely related. We wish to win for one another, and we wish one another to win.”

USC, now 13-4,received their first 9 video games earlier than dropping two in a row. With their development spurt, the workforce appears to be entering into the swing of Pac-12 play, for which Gottlieb mentioned “each weekend is type of like a brand new lifetime.”

“I believe it’s due to what we’re doing proper. It’s not individuals having a foul night time,” Gottlieb mentioned. “It’s (that) we’re imposing our will. We’ve been a superb defensive workforce all 12 months, however the competitors is rising, and I believe we’re rising, and actually believing in what we are able to do on the ground.”

The Cardinal, who unleashed a fiery second-half surge of their win over UCLA Friday, regarded comparatively passive towards the Trojans, who bettered them within the blocks, steals, assists and quick break classes with attack-style play.

VanDerveer was conscious about the discrepancy.

“I believed USC performed very effectively. They’re very aggressive. They labored they labored actually onerous. We we turned the ball over an excessive amount of. We didn’t shoot the ball effectively sufficient,” she mentioned. “We didn’t play effectively, and we had been outplayed, out-hustled, and that’s simply the character of the convention. You’ve acquired to return out and play onerous.”

“Now we have to wish to be grittier,” she mentioned. “Now we have to be a way more aggressive, aggressive, grittier workforce. And…..perhaps it’s taking higher pictures.”

Although not coping with the roster turnover numbers that the Trojans have, Stanford noticed three key starters graduate final 12 months – certainly one of whom was drafted into the WNBA. VanDerveer mentioned the workforce now wants new emotional leaders.

“For the final 4 years, we’ve had folks that performed extraordinarily onerous, and that’s Anna Wilson, Lexie and Lacie Hull. And so they actually carried us,” VanDerveer mentioned. “So we’d like individuals on our workforce now (to) play with that zeal, that aggressiveness, that competitiveness.”

“If we (do), we’ll do higher and if we don’t, this would be the end result.”

VanDerveer mentioned the Cardinal’s rebounding has carried them these days, whereas their offense has sputtered. Greater than that, the workforce must deal with the small print.

“We want individuals to do issues that we’re not doing, whether or not it’s screening or getting on the O boards, pulling down pictures,” she mentioned. “We’ve acquired to get to the free throw line higher.”

However although there’s work to be accomplished, the Corridor of Fame coach is optimistic.

“There’s plenty of alternative for individuals on our workforce. And I believe that that is only a time (for gamers to) say ‘alright, hey, I’m gonna reap the benefits of this. That is what I’m going to do.’”

USC travels north this weekend to tackle the Washington colleges, whereas Stanford heads east to tackle No. 8 Utah and No. 24 Colorado.



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