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first_imgAfter four games on the road, this is the Women of Troy’s first weekend at home. They will start the weekend with a rematch against Washington, and on Sunday, they will finish out their weekend with a rematch against Washington State. Both Washington teams defeated USC by a margin of 12 points or fewer earlier in the season. Those victories came immediately after the turmoil of losing junior Jordan Adams and senior Brianna Barrett, two starters sidelined for eligibility issues.Although both of the previous Washington games resulted in losses, associate head coach Beth Burns said that those losses were more of factor in the loss of Adams and Barrett. Their focus this weekend will be less on their opponents — which include Washington’s Kelsey Plum, the nation’s second highest scorer — and more on improving their own offensive game.“The last time we played these teams, it was eight games ago,” Burns said. “This is a completely different team taking the court this weekend.”The Women of Troy are coming off of a split weekend in Arizona. They started their weekend with a solid 67-57 victory over Arizona, improving to 17-7 on their season. On Sunday, the team played it close with No. 8 Arizona State right until the buzzer. The Sun Devils squeaked by with a 69-68 win.Though the game against Arizona State is a loss on paper, both games served as a massive confidence boost for a team still searching for a rhythm midseason. Junior Courtney Jaco has risen as an offensive leader, notching 24 points — including four 3-pointers — in last Friday’s comeback win against Arizona. Her role has changed the most this season, as she left behind her role as an outside shooter to become the team’s point guard.“Last weekend gave us the most confidence, and I think you can see that by how we played,” Jaco said. “Before, we weren’t getting our offense going; we weren’t hitting our outside shots, and that was all in our heads. It was a confidence thing. I think as we’re getting our confidence up, we’re seeing that we can really hang in there with anyone.”Down low, sophomore Kristen Simon and transfer graduate Temi Fagbenle have become solid anchors for the team, with both forwards putting up double digits in at least one of the two games last weekend. Fagbenle said that one of the team’s greatest struggles has been endurance and keeping players healthy and eligible to suit up for each game.“We have to stick together and stay focused because when you’re tired, it’s easy to lose that focus,” Fagbenle said. “It’s not easy. It’s certainly not making it easier on us, but it’s something that we can overcome when we stick together as a team. I think, at this point, we are very capable of challenging these supposed superior teams.”Friday’s game against Washington will also be the program’s annual “Pink Game.” To raise awareness for breast cancer, the team will wear pink and is encouraging fans to do the same. To further raise funds for breast cancer, USC is asking fans to donate to the Kay Yow Foundation online. The foundation, inspired by legendary North Carolina State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, is officially backed by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.For the USC program, the foundation hits close to home. Burns was an assistant coach under Yow at North Carolina State, and head coach Cynthia Cooper won a gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics with Yow as her coach. Now, Cooper is the Pac-12 coordinator for the foundation, and her goal for this year is to raise $2,500 from USC and $25,000 from the division as a whole.“When [Low] had Stage Four breast cancer, she said that this was something that she wouldn’t beat it in her lifetime, but it is something that we can beat in the next,” Burns said. “This is one of the most important causes we can partner with, and we have a lot of faith in this foundation and in our ability to raise the money we need.”last_img read more