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USC’s Jordyn Jenkins shines in Pac-12 tournament debut

Southern California freshman forward Jordyn Jenkins posted a career-high 14 points Sunday against UCLA — only to eclipse it on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Jenkins scored 16 to propel eighth-seeded Southern California to a 71-65 victory over No. 9 Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament at Michelob Ultra Arena. The freshman forward was poised and efficient, converting 8 of 10 field goals and securing six rebounds.

Centennial graduate and sophomore forward Eboni Walker came off the bench to score 11 for the Sun Devils, who conclude their season with an 11-10 record.

Jenkins and the Trojans (10-11) advance to play top-seeded Stanford on Thursday. USC coach Mark Trakh was pleased the team’s play, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

“(The players) regrouped and wanted to end (the season) well,” Trakh said. “We took good shots. We set up our teammates with good shots. We shared the ball. We passed the ball.”

Jenkins is from Kent, Washington, and was a five-star recruit per ESPN. That, despite missing her senior season with a torn ACL. The injury delayed the start of her freshman season, and she didn’t begin practicing until late December.

She debuted Jan. 8 as a reserve and is continuing her acclimation to the rigors of Pac-12 play — starting seven of the past eight games.

“Everything is fast paced,” said Jenkins, who played a career-high 33 minutes. “I’ve just gotten better at just running and keeping up. I also think I’ve gotten better just being active in the post.”

Jenkins was plenty active Wednesday near the basket and on the perimeter, using her size and skill to finish in traffic. She made 4 of 5 field goals in the first half, helping the Trojans shoot 70 percent and build a 39-22 halftime lead.

Arizona State rallied in the second half, pulling within single digits in the final 90 seconds. But the Sun Devils ran out of time and could not overcome their first-half struggles.

Trojans sophomore point guard Endyia Rogers had 15 points and 11 assists and senior Jordan Sanders had 14 points and five steals. They’ll gladly share the glory with Jenkins, who has plenty of room for improvement.

“She’s just going to get better and better and better,” Trakh said. “We’ll get to work with her individually, work with her on her moves, have her step out a little so she can shoot (3-pointers). … I think she’s going to be a heck of a player here.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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