The USC Trojans didn’t win in their first-round NCAA Tournament game on Friday against South Dakota State. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, especially from Rayah Marshall. She did all she could to lift the Trojans to victory.
Yes, she missed five free throws and did not shoot as well as she would have liked, but basketball can be carved into two components: shooting, and everything else. Some days, the ball might not go through the hoop, but effort is something every player can control. Marshall’s effort is always supreme, and it’s why she is such a great defensive player.
Marshall delivered 17 points, 13 rebounds, 7 blocked shots, 3 steals, and an assist in a wonderful performance. Marshall anchored a defense which held South Dakota State 34.4 points below its season average in a per-40 minute context, 17.4 below its season average if we include the full game (with the overtime period).
Marshall, just a sophomore, will be back on next season’s team. A 15-point, 12-rebound, six-block, 3-steal game was commonplace for her (not the exact numbers, but having a double-double with over five blocks plus some steals on the stat sheet) this past season. There’s no reason to think it won’t be next season. With more and better offensive players coming into the program, Marshall should have more room to operate on offense, making the game more manageable for her, and ensuring that she can continue to excel on defense.
The future is bright for USC for a lot of reasons, one of them named Rayah Marshall.
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