The WSU women’s basketball team’s travels to LA to play the USC Trojans on Thursday and then the Cougs will play on Saturday against the UCLA Bruins.
The Trojans have an overall record of 10-9 and 5-4 in PAC-12 play. The Bruins have an overall record of 8-9 and 5-4 in the PAC-12. The Cougars have an overall record of 10-11 with 4-5 in the PAC-12.
“Just excited about our trip to the Los Angeles schools,” Head Coach June Daugherty said. “We’re two games out of second place in the conference and both (USC and UCLA) are in front of us. So it’s double meaningful to go down there and play some great basketball.”
The team is focusing on continued execution at a high level and getting teammates involved in practice, she said.
“I think we’ve been spent a lot of time actually learning USC’s sets,” junior center Carly Noyes said, “and really focusing on their key players and how to stop them with defense.
The team needs to stay positive and keep each other pumped up to maintain the mental toughness that allowed them to beat Arizona, she said.
“(USC) has so many elite athletes out there.” Daugherty said. “They mix it up offensively and defensively. They run a lot of offensive sets.”
USC’s team executes their offensive plays at a very high level, she said. WSU’s defense will definitely be challenged, she said.
“They have a lot of good players,” Noyes said. “They have good guards so we have to maintain them on the perimeter. They have strong posts inside, so just all around they’re a solid team.”
UCLA has gone through a coaching change, Daugherty said. This year the new coaching staff has really come in and learned about their players, she said.
“They know what their kids about that they’ve inherited,” she said, “and they really got them on the same page playing some great Bruin basketball.”
Many of UCLA’s players are out do to injuries, she said. However, the athletes that are playing are giving everything they have, she said.
“(UCLA) has a new coaching staff so it’ll be a little bit different this year,” Noyes said, “but I mean they’re tough girls so it’ll be the same type of players as it has been.”
Both teams have good guard play, Daugherty said. The teams are also very strong on the inside and both qualities will challenge the WSU defense, she said.
Daugherty said the teams will try to force WSU to play one-on-one and the Cougars are going to have to be able to contain and stay in front of the opposing players.
“The LA schools are always a tough series,” redshirt junior guard Katie Grad said. “We need to come down there with the attitude that we’re going to play hard the whole time and play together … we’re going to focus on that I think and hopefully we’ll come out with two W’s.”