With Duke looming, Frogs head to USC

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    This weekend the women’s basketball team will head west to face off against Southern California on Sunday, knowing it will be greeted by Associated Press No. 1 Duke at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Tuesday.TCU played USC last season and fell 71-70 at home. Sophomore forward Lorie Butler-Rayford said the loss will serve as motivation Sunday.

    “We lost to them by one point on the final shot, so that was a heartbreaker,” Butler-Rayford said. “I know it’s important to get back there this year.”

    TCU has never played Duke before in the regular season but has seen Duke in the past at the NCAA tournament.

    Head coach Jeff Mittie described the season as “spotty,” saying that consistency has been a concern so far this season, but the team is making progress.

    “There have been some good points, and there have been some struggles,” Mittie said. “I think right now putting 40 minutes together has been a struggle. Hopefully, we’re getting closer to where we want to be.”

    In the last three games against Mississippi State, North Carolina and Oklahoma, the Horned Frog bench has been outscored 70-27. But sophomore guard Adrianne Ross is quick to point out the bench needs a more solid starting five to back up.

    “I think as a team we need to improve, and (we) can’t really just rely (or) put too much on our bench until we come out there – the starting five and set a good tempo,” Ross said. “But, I think it’s important that they bring us a spark in the game.”

    The squad will play three games over break and open conference play January 14. Butler-Rayford said practices are more physically-demanding over the break.

    “Over the break, we have two-a-days and much harder practices because we have more time on our hands,” she said.

    By the conference opener, TCU will have competed against three top teams in the country: Georgia and the two upcoming contests versus USC, which fell out of the AP poll last week, and Duke. Ross said the high level of competition has helped the offense develop.

    “I think our offense is getting better, but we’ve had the toughest changes to (test it),” Ross said. “I think we just need to come out and set the tone offensively.”

    Mittie said stronger execution is one of the keys to improvement.

    “We’re getting to a point where it’s critical that they really start to execute much, much better,” Mittie said.

    Despite the struggles, Ross said she is excited about watching the team improve.

    “I’m happy with the season – just the fact that its here,” she said. “Winning or losing, you are going to get better regardless, and I am just excited that we have the opportunity to get better. It’s early in the season so we can do that.