USC Faces UCLA In Gauntlet Rematch
Feb. 14, 2006
HERE AND NOW
USC sets up for its second Pac-10 showdown with crosstown rival UCLA this week. The Trojans head to Pauley Pavilion to take on the host Bruins at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 18). Live stats of the game will be available at www.usctrojans.com, and the game also will be broadcast live by Fox Sports and on air by KMPC-AM 1540.
RANK AND FILE
USC (15-9, 9-6) and UCLA (15-9, 10-5) both are unranked this week. The Bruins enter the week as the third-place team in the Pac-10, while the Trojans are a half-game out of fourth behind Washington.
Junior forward Jamie Funn will be out the remainder of the 2005-06 season after having hip surgery on Jan. 18. Her final game was against No. 25 Washington on Jan. 14. Sophomore guard Brynn Cameron is out indefinitely with a hip injury. Her last game for USC was Jan. 21 against UCLA.
USC split games last week in the Trojans' final stand at the Sports Arena with a, 87-79 loss to Washington followed by a 75-67 win over Washington State. The Women of Troy pushed their game with Washington into overtime for the fifth time in history against the Huskies. This time, it took double overtime to decide the game (the teams went into triple overtime in 2000, and single overtime in 1999, 2001 and 2002). USC finally shook a cold second-half start that saw the hosts open the half shooting 16 percent from the field. The Trojans got back in the game just in time and tied it up 69-69 on a Camille LeNoir layup with 36 seconds left. The first overtime period saw USC jump out to a 73-69 lead with a LeNoir layup and an Eshaya Murphy putback that gave her a career-high 24 points on the night. A Cameo Hicks 3-pointer -- her fourth of the night -- and a putback from Breanne Watson got Washington back ahead by one, but LeNoir had another slick 3-pointer in her as well and nailed it for a 76-74 edge. Watson scored again after yet another Washington offensive rebound, and the USC sidestepped a heartbreaking late turnover and last-second layup chance by Emily Florence when Florence's layup rolled off the rim as time expired. The game then extended to a second overtime period, but this time Washington took the early lead. Jamie Hagiya made it a one-point game with a 3-pointer with 2:35 to go, only to have Washington stay solid on the boards and strong from the free-throw line to hold off the Trojans.Murphy, LeNoir and Hagiya finished in double figures for USC. Murphy's career-high 24 points were accompanied by eight rebounds, and LeNoir added 20 points. Hagiya ended up with 10 for USC, and Allison Jaskowiak pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. Against WSU, had three players finish in double figures -- Murphy with 22, LeNoir with 21 and Meghan Gnekow with 11 in her final game at the Sports Arena. LeNoir also dished up a career-high eight assists for the Trojans. USC answered WSU's hot first-half perimeter game to take back the lead by halftime and hold onto it thanks to a 50-percent shooting effort from the floor in the game -- marking just the second time this season that the Trojans have hit that mark.
SCOUTING UCLA -- The Bruins (15-9, 10-5) sit in third place in the Pac-10 after beating Washington State and Washington last week. UCLA is not ranked, but is receiving votes in the AP poll. Last season, the Bruins went 16-12 and finished sixth in the Pac-10 at 10-8. Head coach Kathy Olivier is in her 13th season at UCLA. The Bruins are led in scoring by Lisa Willis (18.3 ppg), Noelle Quinn (18.3 ppg) and Nikki Blue (17.5 ppg). USC is 36-31 all-time against UCLA and 15-14 on the road. USC has won the past two meetings with UCLA. When the Trojans and the Bruins last met, the teams went down to the wire for the fourth straight game decided by four points or fewer when USC pulled off a 73-70 win at the Sports Arena on Jan. 21.
ENTER THE GAUNTLET
With the Lexus Gauntlet approaching the halfway mark of the 18-sport crosstown competition, a major weekend looms for both UCLA and USC. Saturday's winner will earn five Lexus Gauntlet points. The rivalry race remains intense with more than 40 Lexus Gauntlet points yet to be determined toward the perpetual trophy presented by the Southern California Lexus Dealers Association. The magic number to clinch the all-sports trophy is 57.5 points. USC enters the week leading this season's battle, 40-15. In the first four years of the Gauntlet competition, the archrivals have alternated winning the trophy. USC won the inaugural trophy in 2002 and again in 2004. UCLA captured the rivalry's crown jewel in 2003 and 2005.
Senior captain Meghan Gnekow has worked her way into and upwards on the USC career 3-point shooting charts and now sits at No. 5 all-time with 92 threes, having passed up injured sophomore Brynn Cameron's 91. Leading the pack of current Trojans on the list is junior Eshaya Murphy at No. 4 with 97 career threes. Newcomer to the Top-10 chart is junior Jamie Hagiya, who now sits at No. 10 with 73.
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
Junior guard Eshaya Murphy has led USC in scoring 16 times so far this season and has hit double figures in 18 straight games now -- 23 total. In USC's double-overtime loss to Washington on Feb. 9 Murphy hit a career-high 24 points, and hit her pervious high of 22 for the fourth time this season when the Trojans beat WSU two days later. In USC's first win over WSU, Murphy pinned up her first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and got a second one vs. UCLA with 20 points, 12 rebounds. Now with 54 three-pointers on the season, Murphy has more than matched her previous career total and now ranks No. 4 all-time with 97 threes.
Sophomore point guard Camille LeNoir has been a key part of the balanced attack for the Women of Troy. She's USC's top distributor with 4.0 assists per game and has scored in double digits in every game but five. In her first start for USC on Dec. 20, she finished with just four points, but dished up a season-high six assists. Since then, she hit a new career-high 24 points against California on Jan. 1 that came along with a career-best five 3-pointers, and hit a pair of jumpers to get USC into the lead against No. 9 Arizona State on Jan. 6 in a 13-point outing. Against UCLA, LeNoir knocked in a career night with 27 points (22 in the second half and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line) and seven assists, earning her Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Recently against WSU, LeNoir bettered that career mark with eight assists on Feb. 11.
HAGIYA HEATS UP
USC junior point guard Jamie Hagiya had a hot night against Washington State on Jan. 12, matching her career high of 16 points on four 3-pointers and a 100 percent effort from the free-throw line. She began the season by going from season highs to career highs in a span of two games when she first nailed a season-best 13 points and three 3-pointers against LMU, and then upped the ante with four 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 16 points and grabbed a career-best seven steals against Cal State Northridge. She's second on the team in assists with 3.5 per game and third in steals with 1.6 per game.
JASKOWIAK OFF THE PINE AND ON THE RADAR
Allison Jaskowiak is a bench-warmer no more. Stifling defensive pressure and tenacious rebounding have earned the junior guard/forward a starting job in USC's past eight Pac-10 games, giving her 14 starts on the season. She's gone from averaging just 7.7 minutes a game as a sophomore to 26.0 mpg as a junior, doubled her career high scoring to 12 points, scored in 17 games and more than doubled her previous career total rebounds and 3-pointers with 99 boards and eight threes so far this season. Against Washington on Feb. 9, she pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds.
PARKER IN THE PAINT
Freshman center Nadia Parker has made a home for herself in the key. She scored in 11 straight Pac-10 games, and set career marks in rebounds with seven against Cal on Jan. 1 and then topped out with 10 points and a pair of steals against Arizona on Jan. 8.
TAGTEAM, BACK AGAIN
Guards Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir created a dangerous scoring tandem in USC's biggest wins this season. As the trend goes, Murphy was the hot-handed one in the first half, followed by LeNoir's cool and collected second-half spikes. In the Jan. 6 win over then-No. 9 ASU, Murphy scored 11 points -- all from the field -- in the second half and finished with a career-best 22. LeNoir then stepped in and drilled eight of her final 13 in the second. The following weekend at No. 25 Washington, Murphy poured in 13 first-half points (finished with 19), and LeNoir pumped in 14 second-half points on the way to an 18-point night. In a tight win over UCLA, Murphy nailed four 3-pointers and had 16 points by halftime before giving way to LeNoir's sharpshooting from the field and the free-throw line. Murphy finished with 20 points on 67 percent shooting, and LeNoir added a career-high 27 -- 22 of which came in the second half (11 in second-half free throws).
USC has now hit the .500 mark in shooting percentage twice this season, going .526 in a 94-54 win over Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 16, 2005, and then hitting 50 percent on the money against Washington State on Feb. 11, 2006. Chloé Kerr had a big role in the .526 output with a .900 effort on 9-of-10 shooting. No Trojan had hit such a high mark since 1987, leaving Kerr tied at No. 5 all-time for her single-game shooting percentage against the Titans.
The home courts at Troy (Sports Arena and Lyon Center) largely have been a secure place for the Women of Troy. Only two teams got the best of the Trojans at home last season, and the 2005-06 ride marks the final season before the opening of the new, highly anticipated 10,258-seat Galen Center (set to open for the 2006-07 season).USC recently hosted its final final conference game on Sports Arena hardwood, and closed down its run at the Arena with a 75-67 win over Washington State to finish with a 9-4 record at home this season.
The USC women's basketball team has had at least three players score in double figures in 14 games so far this year, suffering their first loss with three double-digit scorers on Jan. 29 vs. Stanford. In an earlier dominating win over Cal State Northridge, six players nailed double digits and all 10 players who hit the court scored in the game. At the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic, four players hit double digits in both games. Chloé Kerr, Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir all hit double digits twice, as the Trojans had eight and seven different scorers, respectively, emerge against Hawai'i and Eastern Illinois. Against Notre Dame, Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State and at ASU, the Women of Troy produced another balanced attack with four double-digit scorers, although the Notre Dame and ASU games saw the Trojans get stuck with a loss despite that widespread scoring production.
BACK ON THE BOARDS
USC's 27 offensive rebounds in its season opener against Eastern Illinois bettered last season's top offensive boards mark of 26, set on Feb. 12, 2005 against Arizona. USC had 52 total rebounds in that game, but bettered that mark once more against Cal State Fullerton with 55 rebounds. USC hasn't hit such a high mark on the boards since tearing down 58 against New Mexico on Nov. 21, 2003.
PRESEASON PICK 'EM
Last season's 20-11 overall record, second-place finish in the Pac-10 and second-round NCAA Tournament appearance -- coupled with a daunting 10 returners back -- translated into several preseason rankings for the Women of Troy. In 2004-05, the Trojans were one of five Pac-10 teams to reach the NCAA Tournament and win at least one game. This season, USC has been picked to finish No. 2 behind No. 1 Stanford in the Pac-10 Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Pac-10 Media Poll behind UCLA. In the larger 2005-06 scene, USC also was chosen among the elite top 25 teams in the nation, selected at No. 22 standing in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Poll and a No. 24 slot in the Associated Press Top 25 Women's Basketball Poll. The Women of Troy join five other Pac-10 schools in the national preseason polls. In the Athlon preseason poll, USC picked up its highest ranking at No. 16, while Lindy's had the 2005-06 Trojans at No. 21.
COUNTDOWN TO GALEN
This season marks the final stint for the USC women and men in the Lyon Center and Sports Arena, as the Trojans eagerly await the completion of the highly anticipated Galen Center. The Galen is set to be the new home for basketball and volleyball for the 2006-07 season. All systems are go over at the new site, with construction in its final stages for the impressive facility. The structure is located on the corner of Jefferson and Figueroa, and will contain a 255,000 square-foot arena capable of seating 10,258 fans. Locker rooms, practice courts, offices and more will also find shelter within the Galen Center walls.
Women's Basketball On LA Airwaves
KMPC-AM 1540 -- USC's flagship station -- is airing six Women of Troy basketball games this season, beginning with USC's home opener against TCU on Dec. 4. Pete Arbogast, the voice of Trojan football, will provide play-by-play, and former Trojan women's basketball standout Denise Woods ('00) will provide color commentary for the following games: Dec. 4 vs. TCU; Jan. 6 vs. Arizona State; Jan. 21 vs. UCLA; Jan. 27 vs. California, Jan. 29 vs. Stanford; and Feb. 18 vs. UCLA.
All of USC's home games can be followed with Gametracker and Live Audio at www.usctrojans.com. The audio broadcasts can be accessed by purchasing a Trojan All-Access Pass through the multimedia link at usctrojans.com. For games not broadcast by KMPC-AM 1540, Jonathan Horowitz will provide the play-by-play and Alex Schneiders will provide color commentary.
BACK IN ACTION
USC returns 10 players from last season to this year's roster, and has added to it one highly regarded recruit, one walk-on player and a complete coaching staff with their first season at Troy tucked solidly under their belts. All told, almost 80 percent of the Trojans' scoring production returns to the court for the 2005-06 campaign. Leading the way are a pair of sophomore guards -- Camille LeNoir and Brynn Cameron -- who started as freshmen and emerged as the Trojans' top two scorers. The pair accounted for 18.5 points per game last season. Even mightier as a group is this year's junior class of six -- comprised of Jamie Hagiya, Jamie Funn, Eshaya Murphy, Chloé Kerr, Allison Jaskowiak and Markisha Lea. That group averaged a combined 27.1 ppg, 17.2 rpg, 6.16 apg and 5.0 spg last season as sophomores. The lone senior on the squad, Meghan Gnekow brings back her experience and adept skills on the boards as the team's leading rebounder (5.8 rpg last season) and defensive stopper.