Aliyah Mazyck scores game-high 26 points as USC beats rival UCLA
USC senior Aliyah Mazyck sang as she strolled into the media room and sat down behind the microphone.
It was the USC women’s basketball team’s last chance to beat UCLA in the regular season with Mazyck on the roster, and the Trojans accomplished it Sunday, defeating the Bruins 72-67 at Pauley Pavilion. Mazyck scored a game-high 26 points.
The win was USC’s first conference victory and snapped a five-game losing streak, while the Bruins fell to 2-4 in the Pac-12. Even as USC took an early lead, the players maintained an unrelenting intensity.
“Our kids finally worked hard and put 40 minutes together, and made some big shots. We got some great leadership — all that’s been a work in progress,” USC coach Mark Trakh said. “But if we play like this, we’re gonna be competitive.”
The Trojans blocked the Bruins’ path when they tried to drive to the rim, dived to the floor for loose balls, and in the first quarter outrebounded a UCLA team that entered the game with a 7.4 rebounding margin. USC’s aggressiveness forced 17 UCLA turnovers.
It was a different team from just a week ago.
After USC lost to Oregon, Trakh said the Trojans practiced harder than they played in games. Not Sunday. Mazyck said she emphasized positivity as the team prepared to perform in front of a crowd of more than 6,000.
“This was my last one,” Mazyck said. “So this was my pride on the line, our pride on the line, their pride on the line.”
The Bruins battled too. Sophomore Lauryn Miller was poked in the eye in the third quarter but didn’t leave the game; just stared down the Trojans with one eye shut. Sophomore Michaela Onyenwere scored 22 points and took control at the glass with a game-leading 12 rebounds.
But UCLA couldn’t match USC’s intensity.
“We knew they’re really desperate for a win and they were going to come out hungry,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “It was a rivalry, and all those things factor in.”
The Trojans outrebounded the Bruins from the first quarter, taking a 32-30 lead at the half with 14 points by Mazyck, who drained four first-half three-pointers, including a first-quarter buzzer-beater. Less than five minutes into the first half, USC turned the two-point lead into an eight-point one with a three-pointer by junior Ja’Tavia Tapley.
USC maintained that lead for the rest of the third quarter as UCLA struggled to keep up. The Bruins closed the Trojans’ lead to two with less than three minutes left in the game, but Mazyck made a layup to maintain the Trojans’ lead.
“We were like, ‘Just stick together, it’s OK…’” junior Minyon Moore said. “‘Just stay put together and then hopefully we’ll pull off a win.’ And we did that tonight.”
As the clock wound down the Trojans on the bench watched with their hands clasped. UCLA pulled within three with less than a minute left, then made a defensive stop, sending Trakh shouting down the sideline. Lindsey Corsaro drew the foul for UCLA and made a free throw — two-point game — forcing Trakh to call a timeout.
When play resumed, Mazyck bolted free of her defender and put away the basket in seconds, drawing a foul as she fell to the floor. She rose flexing her arms and clenching her fists as the USC bench erupted.
When time expired, Moore ran to the bench roaring.The Trojans leapt from their seats, victorious for the first time since Dec. 22. After reporters finished questioning Mazyck, she rose from the table with a shrug.
“Let’s go celebrate,” she said.
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