Women Of Troy Host Fourth-Ranked Tennessee At Fabulous Forum, Saturday

Dec. 12, 2002

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The Facts
The USC women's basketball team (4-3) will face its fifth ranked opponent of the season and second consecutive Top-5 foe when it hosts No. 4 Tennessee (6-1) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1:30 p.m. at the Forum in Inglewood. The game will be televised nationally on FOX Sports and can also be heard on KMPC-AM 1540 and www.usctrojans.com. This women's basketball classic, featuring two teams that share a combined eight national titles (USC owns two, Tennessee owns six), will also be a 20th anniversary celebration of the Women of Troy's back-to-back NCAA championships. All 12 players from the 1983 and 1984 championship squads will be honored during a halftime presentation. The Women of Troy are coming off a 64-63 win over Pepperdine and a 68-44 loss to fifth-ranked Connecticut last week.

All USC home games can be heard live via the internet at www.usctrojans.com. To find the USC audio broadcast go to the 'Multimedia' link at the top of the homepage. You can also follow the game with Live Stats by going to the women's basketball schedule page.

USC, which advanced to the second round of the Postseason Women's NIT in 2002, looks to carry its late-season momentum into 2003. Under sixth-year head coach Chris Gobrecht, the Women of Troy return four starters and seven total letterwinners from last year's squad which posted a 16-14 overall record and 11-7 mark in the Pac-10 to finish tied for fourth place. This season, USC will look to All-American candidates and returning All-Pac-10 first team selections Ebony Hoffman and Aisha Hollans, in addition to 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection Rachel Woodward to make the difference.

A College Basketball Classic
The USC-Tennessee game this Saturday, Dec. 14, will be an event to remember. In addition to featuring two legendary programs at a legendary arena (Great Western Forum), the afternoon will include a reunion of USC's 1983 and 1984 NCAA Championship teams. Between them, USC and Tennessee have won eight national championships - USC owns two (1983, 1984) and Tennessee claims six (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998).

USC-Tennessee Connections
USC and Tennessee have met a total of three times in postseason play (1982-84-86), including the 1984 NCAA Championship when the Women of Troy defeated the Lady Vols, 72-61, to claim their second straight national title *** Tennessee sophomore guard Loree Moore is a former prep teammate of USC juniors Ebony Hoffman and Jessica Cheeks at Narbonne High.

No. 1 Versus No. 9
Saturday's game will pit No. 1 versus No. 9, when the Women of Troy -- rated No. 9 in this week's RPI (Ratings Percentage Index - computer formula which rates teams based on performance and strength of schedule) -- host No. 1 RPI-rated Tennessee.

Catch Women of Troy Over L.A. Airwaves!
USC's flagship station KMPC-AM 1540 will air six Women of Troy basketball games this season, including this Saturday's match-up with Tennessee. Play-by-play announcer Peter Arbogast and color commentator, and Women of Troy alum, Carmen Krause (USC '01) will call the action at the remaining games: Dec. 14 vs. Tenn., Jan. 12 at UCLA, Jan. 24 vs. Cal, Feb. 8 vs. UCLA and Feb. 14 vs. Arizona State.

Facing NCAA Champions Is Not New
It's no secret that head coach Chris Gobrecht likes to schedule tough... and it doesn't get any tougher than facing former national champions back-to-back-to-back. With Tennessee, USC has now faced three of the last four NCAA Champions, including UConn and Notre Dame. The Women of Troy had their fourth-consecutive meeting with Notre Dame on Nov. 29, their first-ever with UConn last Sunday (Dec. 8) and hosts Tennessee for its second straight meeting this week.

Chris Gobrecht Collects 400th Career Victory
Head coach Chris Gobrecht collected her 400th career victory with a 64-63 win at Pepperdine on Dec. 4. Currently in her 24th season as a head coach, Gobrecht boasts a 400-284 (.585) career record. She is the third active Pac-10 coach to reach the 400-victory plateau behind Arizona's Joan Bonvicini and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer.

Off To A Running Start
The Trojans spent no time at all warming up this season. In just three short weeks, USC has played seven games, faced five ranked opponents (No. 29 Colorado State, No. 4 Kansas State, No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 5 UConn and No. 4 Tennessee), taken four road trips with stops in Colorado, Kansas and Connecticut, and played three home games all before most teams have even had the chance to warm up. The Trojans add to that by heading to Texas and Colorado next week after one more nonconference game at home.

Hoffman Seeing Double
Forward/center Ebony Hoffman was seeing double last week as she recorded back-to-back double-doubles and averaged 21.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. Hoffman posted 20 points and 15 rebounds against Pepperdine, then followed it with a 22-point, 14-rebound performance at UConn.

Hollans Starts to Hit Stride
After a rough start to 2002, junior guard Aisha Hollans is starting to hit her stride. Last year's Pac-10 second-leading scorer, Hollans sat out the first game of the season with a team suspension, then did not start in the following five games. But since facing Pepperdine on Dec. 4, Hollans has averaged 14.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and made her first start of the season at UConn.

Keep Your Eye On The Ball
There is one category that the Trojans have definitely dominated this season - turnovers! Despite averaging 23.1 turnovers in the first seven games, the Women of Troy have used it to their advantage by forcing opponents to turn the ball over 27.9 times per outing. With a fast-paced pressure defense, USC has also managed to collect 10.7 steals per game.

Game Recap: USC def. Pepperdine, 64-63
With two driving layups in the final minute by guard Jessica Cheeks, USC came away with a 64-63 victory over Pepperdine in Malibu on Dec. 4. The Trojans had three players finish in double figures, including a double-double effort from Ebony Hoffman who had 20 points and 15 rebounds. Hoffman also matched her career high with four blocks. The Waves jumped out on top first thanks to the sharp shooting of guard Damaris Hinojosa who hit her first 3-of-3 three-pointers. But the game was plagued with fouls and USC managed to tie the score at 20-20. Pepperdine went cold at the nine-minute mark and allowed the Trojans to pull ahead. USC entered the break up 40-33. The Women of Troy pushed to a 10-point lead, 52-42, at the start of the second half, but their lead did not last long as the Waves used a 7-0 run to pull within three (56-53) at 5:56. Pepperdine took its first lead, 59-58, since the start of the game with two minutes remaining (59-58). Trailing by three, Cheeks took the inbound pass and drove the length of the court for a jumper that put USC within one, 63-62, as the clocked hit 1:00. Then on the ensuing possession, Cheeks raced past Pepperdine's Shandrika Lee for a driving layup that would eventually seal the win for the Women of Troy, 64-63, with 16 seconds left.

Game Recap: #5 UConn def. USC, 68-44
Despite another double-double performance from Ebony Hoffman, the Women of Troy could not get their shots to fall as they lost 68-44 to No. 4 UConn in front of a sold-out crowd in Hartford, Conn., on Dec. 8. USC (4-3) turned in the worst shooting performance in program history, going 12-of-66 (18.2 percent). But USC managed to force 30 Huskie turnovers in the effort. UConn compensated by banging inside and outrebounding the Trojans 52-44, with a 38-12 scoring edge in the paint. Hoffman led USC with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Aisha Hollans added 11 points. Hoffman scored the first 10 points of the second half for the Trojans, but by then UConn had the game in hand. UConn led 37-19 at halftime despite committing 17 turnovers. The Huskies made up for it with 52 percent shooting and strong post play. UConn closed out the half on a 14-4 run, triggered by a three-pointer. The Trojans went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal, ending the drought on a Jessica Cheeks' floater with 56 seconds to play.

2003 Player News N' Notes
* Ebony Hoffman matched her career high with four blocks against Pepperdine (Dec. 4).
* Rachel Woodward scored a career high 22 points against Notre Dame (Nov. 29).
* Ebony Hoffman posted a career high seven steals in win over New Mexico (Nov. 23).
* Ebony Hoffman collected a career-high 18 rebounds in a double-double effort against Northern Arizona (Nov. 15).

The Last Time...
Before beating No. 19 Colorado State in the first week of the season, the last time the Women of Troy beat a ranked opponent was on Jan. 19, 2002 when they defeated No. 23 Arizona State.

USC Boasts Nation's Second-Toughest Schedule
The Women of Troy have a definite challenge ahead of them this season - actually the No. 2 toughest challenge, according to the WBCA and its preseason nonconference strength of schedule rating. The Trojans are ranked No. 17 in overall strength of schedule. The 2003 schedule features Notre Dame (Nov. 29) at the Sports Arena and Tennessee (Dec. 14), who boasts the No. 1-rated toughest schedule, at the Forum, road games against New Mexico (Nov. 23), Pepperdine (Dec. 4), SMU (Dec. 18), Colorado (Dec. 21) and UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 9), and a Dec. 8 match-up at defending national champion Connecticut in Hartford, Conn.

USC In the Preseason WNIT
The Trojans advanced to the semifinals of the Preseason Women's NIT to start 2002 after twice appearing in the postseason tournament (2000, 2002). As the fourth Pac-10 team to compete in the preseason event since its inception in 1994, the Trojans are the first to ever advance past the second round. Pac-10 teams are now 5-4 all-time in the preseason tourney.

USC In The Polls
Since its upset victory over 19th-ranked Colorado State (which dropped to 24th in the AP poll) to start the season, USC has been receiving votes in both polls. This week, the Trojans are 36th on the AP poll with 8 votes and 41st on the USA Today/ESPN poll with 9 votes.

Hoffman Named Candidate For Naismith Award
Ebony Hoffman was named to the list of women's preseason candidates for the 2003 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

Hoffman Leads USA World Championship Team To Gold Medal
Finishing with a perfect 4-0 record, the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team claimed the gold medal with an 81-50 victory over host Brazil (4-1) on July 21 thanks to an 18-point, 11-rebound effort from junior Ebony Hoffman. Averaging a tournament leading 102.8 points an outing, the United States had five players finish with scoring averages in double digits, three of whom finished among the top 10 in the tournament in scoring. Leading the charge was Hoffman, who averaged a tournament fourth-best 13.3 points.

Trojans Welcome New Assistant Coach
Steve Brooks, a former prep basketball coach with more than 20 years of coaching experience, was named an assistant coach for the USC women's basketball team by head coach Chris Gobrecht in July. Brooks will be in charge of overseeing the individual development of the USC players, as well as on-campus recruiting, conditioning and scouting. He replaces Colleen Matsuhara, who became head women's coach at West Los Angeles Community College.

Returning Honorees
Forward Ebony Hoffman and guard Aisha Hollans were both named to the All-Pac-10 first team in 2002 - a first for the two standout players and the first, first-team selections for the Women of Troy since the 1999 season (also the first time USC has had two named to the first team since the 1994 season). Rachel Woodward also received her share of honors by being named to the conference All-Freshman team. Woodward finished the season third on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg), assists (1.8 apg) and blocked shots (0.6 bpg), and fourth in rebounding (4.9 rpg).

Rometra Craig To Join Team Dec. 19
A key to USC's success this season is the addition of Rometra Craig (Portola Valley, Calif.) - a 2002 junior transfer from Duke who will be eligible on Dec. 19 (one full year after her transfer date). A unanimous prep All-American at Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, Calif., Craig was a member of Duke's heralded recruiting class of 2002. Before transferring, the junior averaged 17.9 minutes, 6.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game with the Blue Devils. Craig will have one-and-a-half years of remaining eligibility at USC.

Two New Additions
There are two new additions to this year's Women of Troy roster - junior college transfer Tiffany Hicks and freshman Meghan Gnekow. Hicks is an experienced point guard who helped lead Iowa Western Community College to its first-ever district championship in 2002, while Gnekow will likely play at the 2/3 guard position and is expected to provide the team with necessary three-point shooting at those positions. She prepped at Lincoln (Neb.) High.

Even Newer Additions
At the start of the season, the Women of Troy added two freshmen walk-ons to the 2002-03 roster. An academic sophomore, Alessandra Albrizzio is a 5-9 guard who hails from Holy Names High in El Cerrito, Calif. Albrizzio will wear No. 20. The newest addition is freshman forward Reva Evero who prepped at Alta Loma High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Evero will wear No. 4.

USC Signs Six To Letters Of Intent
USC signed six players to letters of intent - including four prep All-American selections - for the 2004 season, head coach Chris Gobrecht announced on Nov. 18. Jamie Funn of Los Angeles, Markisha Lea of Riverside, Eshaya Murphy of Van Nuys, Chloe Kerr of Bollingbrook, Ill., Allison Jaskowiak of Chesterfield, Mo., and Katie Henderson of Redmond, Wash., make up what has already been ranked as the nation's No. 9 recruiting class of 2003 in Blue Star Report. 'This is the kind of recruiting class that establishes a foundation for the future,' said Gobrecht, who is in her sixth season at USC. 'These student-athletes are not only excellent basketball players, but also strong students and outstanding people. They are the type of recruits you can build your program on.'

Head Coach Chris Gobrecht
Chris Gobrecht enters her sixth season at the helm of the USC women's basketball program. Replacing former head coach Fred Williams on May 8, 1997, Gobrecht returned to her alma mater to help guide the Women of Troy back to national prominence. Throughout 24 years of head coaching experience, Gobrecht has amassed a 400-284 (.585) career record with her programs at Cal State Fullerton (six years), Washington (11), Florida State (one) and USC. During her 11-year tenure at Washington, she was twice named Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1987 and 1988). Gobrecht remains the second-winningest coach in conference history with a 171-99 (.633) mark and she ranks among the top 50 active Division I coaches with 400 career victories.

Opponent Notes

#4 Tennessee (6-1) -- The Lady Vols boast a 6-1 record so far this season, including recent wins over No. 15 Louisiana Tech and Saint Louis last week. The team's only loss of the season was to No. 1-ranked Duke, 76-55, on Nov. 24. Forward Gwen Jackson leads the team with 19.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Tennessee is coming off a 29-5 season (14-2 for first place in the Southeastern Conference) where it advanced to the NCAA semifinals and finished the season ranked sixth. Under 29th-year head coach Pat Summitt, the Lady Vols returned nine letterwinners and three starters from the 2002 squad.

USC-Tennessee Series Record -- USC owns a 7-7 (.500) all-time record against the Lady Vols. Saturday's game will mark the third-consecutive meeting between the two squads. Last season, the Trojans fell to the Lady Vols in Knoxville, Tenn., 106-66.

Tennessee Probable Starters
No. Name Pos. Ht. ppg rpg apg spg

13 Gwen Jackson F 6-2 19.6 7.6 1.0 0.6
33 Ashley Robinson C 6-5 4.0 6.7 0.3 0.7
20 Kara Lawson G 5-9 13.1 3.4 4.0 1.7
21 Loree Moore G 5-9 7.3 3.0 4.1 3.0
3 Tasha Butts G 5-11 8.0 4.7 2.1 1.0

Player Profiles

#3 Rometra Craig (Guard * Junior TR)
Rometra Craig will begin her first season with the Women of Troy on Dec. 19, 2002... Transferred from Duke midway through the 2001-02 season and must sit-out one complete year to become eligible... Becomes eligible to join the team on Dec. 19... A talented guard who brings additional speed and aggressiveness to USC's backcourt... An All-American caliber player.

#4 Reva Evero (Forward * Freshman)
Reva Evero enters her first season with the Women of Troy as a walk-on.
This Season:
Added to the roster on Nov. 22... vs. New Mexico (11/23): DNP... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): DNP... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): DNP... at UConn (12/8): DNP...

#5 Meghan Gnekow (Guard * Freshman)
Meghan Gnekow enters her first season at USC after starring at Santa Ynez (Calif.) County Union High... A guard with the potential of playing at the 2 or 3 spots... Expected to help the team because of her perimeter shooting... An athletic player who can handle the ball and make things happen.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): 4 points (1-5), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal... vs. CSU (11/15): 4 points (2-6), 4 rebounds... vs. KSU (11/20): 12 points (5-12), 4 rebounds, 2 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): 5 points (1-6), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 7 steals... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): 2 rebounds, 1 steal... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): 6 points (2-3), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks... at UConn (12/8): 3 points (0-8), 6 rebounds, 1 assist...

#10 Jessica Cheeks (Guard * Junior)
Jessica Cheeks begins her third season with the Women of Troy... Was moved to the point guard position as a freshman, but may return to a more natural 2/3 position as a junior... Is a great asset to the team because of her size and agility in the backcourt... An all-around athlete with great instincts for the game... A returning starter.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): started (at two guard), 13 points (6-13), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals... vs. CSU (11/15): started, 11 points (5-11), 7 rebounds, 7 assists... vs. KSU (11/20): started, 7 points (1-9), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 15 points (7-10), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): started, 10 points (4-8), 2 rebounds, 3 assists... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): started, 14 points (6-11) - including game-winner - 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals... at UConn (12/8): started, 3 points (1-7), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals...

#20 Alessandra Albrizzio (Guard * RS Freshman)
Alessandra Albrizzio enters her first season with the Women of Troy as a walk-on.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): DNP... vs. CSU (11/15): DNP... vs. KSU (11/20): DNP... vs. New Mexico (11/23): DNP... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): DNP... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): DNP... at UConn (12/8): DNP...

#21 Erin Young (Forward * Senior)
Erin Young enters her senior year with the Women of Troy at forward... After joining the team as a freshman walk-on guard, she earned a scholarship for her final three seasons... Her shooting abilities are crucial to the team... Looks to become much more explosive after quiet sophomore and junior campaigns.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): started (only 2nd career start), 4 points (1-4), tied career high with 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block (first of career)... vs. CSU (11/15): started, 6 points (1-6), 5 rebounds, 2 assists... vs. KSU (11/20): started, 6 points (3-7), 2 rebounds... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 5 points (1-6), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 7 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): started, 1 rebound... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): 2 rebounds... at UConn (12/8): started, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal...

#23 Aisha Hollans (Guard * Junior)
Aisha Hollans begins her third season with the Women of Troy... One of the most gifted guards in the conference and a crucial player to have on the court at all times... Named to the 2002 All-Pac-10 First Team... A 2003 ALL-AMERICAN candidate... A returning starter on the perimeter.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): DNP (academic suspension)... vs. CSU (11/15): 8 points (4-16), 4 rebounds, 1 assist... vs. KSU (11/20): 11 points (4-17), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal... vs. New Mexico (11/23): 6 points (3-9), 3 rebounds, 1 assist... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): 9 points (3-9), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): 17 points (5-10), 6 rebounds, 1 assist... at UConn (12/8): started, 11 points (4-16), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals...

#24 Tiffany Hicks (Guard * Junior TR)
A transfer from Iowa Western Community College, Tiffany Hicks begins her first season at USC... She has two years of eligibility available with the Women of Troy... A classic point guard who will be relied upon heavily this season... A very responsible player who will defend and get the ball to all the right people.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): started, 9 points (4-10), 2 rebounds3 assists.. vs. CSU (11/15): started, 3 points (1-3), 5 assists, 3 steals... vs. KSU (11/20): started, 2 points (1-4), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 4 rebounds, 2 assists... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): 2 rebounds, 8 assists... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): started, 2 points (1-5), 2 assists, 1 steal... at UConn (12/8): 1 point, 2 rebounds, 1 steal...

#32 Ebony Hoffman (Forward * Junior)
Ebony Hoffman enters her third season with the Women of Troy... One of the most dominating post players in the conference who had outstanding freshman and sophomore campaigns... Named to the 2002 All-Pac-10 First Team... Competed with the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team this summer... A 2003 ALL-AMERICAN candidate... A returning starter in the post.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): started, double-double with 14 points (5-11) and career-high 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals... vs. CSU (11/15): started, 5 points (1-5), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals... vs. KSU (11/20): started, 10 points (4-10), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 18 points (6-11), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, career-high 7 steals... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): started, 10 points (4-11), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): started, 20 points (7-11), 15 rebounds, 3 assists, career-high 4 blocks, 2 steals... at UConn (12/8): started, 22 points (6-17), 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 steals...

#33 Rachel Woodward (Forward * Sophomore)
Rachel Woodward enters her second season with the Women of Troy... A talented passer who runs the floor well... She can catch, pass and finish on the move... Works well in transition and possesses strong rebounding skills... Brings great size to the forward position... Named to the 2002 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team... A returning starter.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): started, 15 points (5-15), 4 rebounds, 3 assists2 steals... vs. CSU (11/15): started, 20 points (9-13) including game-winning three-pointer, 8 rebounds, 1 block... vs. KSU (11/20): started, 13 points (4-9), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 steals... vs. New Mexico (11/23): started, 11 points (3-11), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): started, career high 22 points (10-19), 2 assists, 1 steal... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): started, 3 points (1-4), 2 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals... at UConn (12/8): started, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals...

#44 Kim Gipson (Center * Sophomore)
Kim Gipson begins her second season with the Women of Troy... A terrific, big-time physical player who has continued to excel as her skills and understanding of the game have improved... An exceptional, bright athlete whose natural skills will bring her much success.
This Season:
vs. NAU (11/15): 4 points (2-2), 2 rebounds, 1 assist... vs. CSU (11/15): 2 points (1-3), 3 rebounds... vs. KSU (11/20): 3 rebounds, 2 assists... vs. New Mexico (11/23): 1 rebound, 1 assist... vs. Notre Dame (11/29): 6 points (3-4), 1 rebound, 1 steal... vs. Pepperdine (12/4): started, 2 points (1-5), 3 rebounds, 1 steal... at UConn (12/8): 4 points (1-1), 3 rebounds...

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