Pili perseveres in the face of being focal point of every defense

February 21, 2021

Alissa Pili

With Pac-12 defenses collapsing on Anchorage’s Alissa Pili down low, scoring points in the post has been a challenge this year.

Rather than force it, she let it fly.

Pili ramped up her 3-point attempts this weekend and showed off a smooth stroke from the perimeter with the post locked down.

For a premier post player to have the ability to step out and knock down 3-pointers is next level.

That’s exactly what makes the hard-to-guard Pili one of the best players on the conference.

Her long-range game was on full display during USC’s two-game weekend homestand as she made 4-of-9 3-pointers and scored 27 points against Oregon State and Oregon.

Pili, of Dimond High fame, also surpassed the 600-point benchmark over the weekend to put the underclassman on pace to reach the elite eight among Alaska scoring leaders at the D1 level.

The 6-foot forward is averaging 10.4 points per game, down from her 16.4 average as a freshman.

An ankle injury forced her to miss the first 10 games of this season and her return was slowed by limited minutes as she worked her way back.

But over the last three weeks, Pili has come alive.

She has improved her scoring average from 5.5 points in the first four games to 13.7 points in the last six games.

Meanwhile, her rebounds average jumped from 2.8 to 4.8 and her 3-point percentage skyrocketed from 20 percent to 36 percent.

She did this even though opponents have keyed on the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year with what looks like a box-in-one defense, limiting her space to operate in the middle of the court.

Between the injury, COVID and USC’s disappointing seventh-place standing in the Pac-12, it looked like a lost season for the Alaskan.

Nonetheless, Pili has persevered by doing whatever it takes to score and provide the Trojans a bright spot in an otherwise dim 10-loss season.