Women’s basketball falls to USC in home opener

Leo Yue /HIGHLANDER

The UC Riverside women’s basketball team hosted the University of Southern California (USC) at the SRC Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14. The game resulted in a 76-59 loss for UCR. The Highlanders battled the undefeated Trojans and remained within single digits until the final quarter of the game. The Highlanders’ home-opener brings their record to 1-3 in non-conference play. 

The Highlanders started the game claiming an early lead, scoring nine points and holding USC to seven until halfway through the first quarter. The Trojans had a delayed burst and took a 20-16 lead by the end of the first period. 

The second quarter was a contested battle. After the Trojans took a 12-point lead, the Highlanders were able to go on a 7-2 scoring run to cut the halftime deficit to seven points, and trailed 40-33 heading into the break. 

UCR senior forward Marina Ewodo and senior point guard Ann Jerigan both scored a three pointer in the early minutes of the third quarter. This cut the Highlanders’ deficit to only five points, 44-39. 

UCR started the fourth quarter behind, 56-48, and scored the first basket of the period to get back within a six point range of USC. The Trojans finished strong with a six-point scoring run that ultimately gave them an 18-point lead. The Highlanders were unable to respond, and the game ended in a 23-point loss. 

Ewodo led the team in scoring and posted her first double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Keilanei Cooper scored 11 points for the Highlanders, followed by senior guard Jannon Otto, who scored 10 points.

USC’s victory was led by a breakout game for graduate transfer Aliyah Jeune. The first-year Trojan scored 27 points, followed by freshman center Asia Jackson who put up 11 points and 14 rebounds. 

The Trojans were extremely successful in drawing fouls and capitalizing on them, making 23 of 25 attempts from the free-throw line to secure their win. The Highlanders, had an 87% free-throw percentage but just couldn’t get to the line enough, shooting 7-for-8.

Although the Trojans were credited as the nation’s best defensive rebounding team last season, they were out rebounded by the Highlanders on Thursday night. The Highlanders grabbed 38 rebounds to the Trojans’ 32. Senior forward Skyler Lewis contributed six of those rebounds and six points, while Sophomore Daphne Gnago contributed five rebounds and five points. 

The Highlanders also bested the Trojans in field goal percentage. The Highlanders finished the game with a 39.7% shooting percentage over USC’s 38.3% 

The Highlanders will host two home games next: they will go up against Utah Valley University (0-3) on Thursday, Nov. 21 and Weber State (0-3) on Sunday, Nov. 24.

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