USC Enters Last Pac-10 Stretch in Oregon
Feb. 21, 2006
HERE AND NOW
USC sets up for its final regular-season Pac-10 weekend with a road trip to Oregon. The Trojans first pay a visit to Oregon for a 7 p.m. showdown at McArthur Court on Thursday (Feb. 23). USC then faces Oregon State at 7 p.m. at Gill Coliseum on Saturday (Feb. 25).
RANK AND FILE
USC (16-9, 10-6) remains unranked this week. Oregon (14-12, 5-11) and Oregon State (12-12, 6-10) are also unranked. The Trojans enter the final week of Pac-10 play tied at No. 4 in the standings with UCLA. The Beavers and the Ducks are a game apart at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.
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. Sophomore guard Símone Jelks also has been sidelined by a reinjured knee.
Chloé Kerr came on strong for USC with a career-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting to help anchor the Trojans to a vital 77-73 win over host UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. The Bruins took a one-point lead in the final minute of play on a 3-pointer from Noelle Quinn, who finished with a game-high 28 points for UCLA. The Trojans stayed composed, however, and got a pair of crucial free throws from Allison Jaskowiak to take back the lead for good. The four-point victory marked the fifth straight game between the Bruins and Trojans that has been decided by four or fewer points. The lead changed hands six times, and USC led by as much as 15 in the early goings of the second half. The Women of Troy held a 39-30 lead at halftime, then extended that advantage to 45-30 at the 17:55 mark of the second half. The firepower of UCLA was never something that the Trojans overlooked, however, and the Bruins closed back in thanks to a 41-percent shooting effort in the second half -- up from 33 percent in the first. USC, on the other hand, cooled off somewhat from the field, following up a 53-percent effort in the first half with a mild 29 percent in the second. The Bruins were dangerous from the perimeter and in the paint, and Lisa Willis brought UCLA to within two at the 1:40 mark, and with USC unable to work out a basket on its next possession, Quinn went back and hit a three to take back the lead at 73-72 with 50 seconds remaining. Jaskowiak was fouled on her way to the basket soon after, and the junior nailed both free throws to snag the lead back for the Trojans with 21.7 seconds to go. Her solid effort at the line -- along with a pair of key first-half threes -- made Jaskowiak USC's fourth player to hit double figures in the game. But the Trojans weren't through. Nikki Blue was just off on her shot attempt on UCLA's ensuing possession, and Meghan Gnekow went all-out for the rebound, diving on the ground and getting fouled to head back to the free-throw line for USC with 2.1 ticks on the clock. Gnekow missed the first but made the second to close out the senior's game with 13 points and seven rebounds. Eshaya Murphy intercepted UCLA's last-ditch pass downcourt and knocked down her next two throws with 0.7 on the clock, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
The Ducks (14-12, 5-11) sit in seventh place in the Pac-10 after losing their third straight game. Oregon lost to Washington 61-55 and Washington State 68-53 last week. Last season, OU went 21-10, reaching the NCAA Second Round after tying for second with USC in the Pac-10 at 12-6. Bev Smith is in her fifth season at Oregon. The Ducks are led in scoring by Gabrielle Richards with 10.7 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
USC-OU Series Record -- USC is 29-15 all-time against Oregon and 12-9 on the road. USC has won the last meeting with Oregon in a 72-48 win in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, 2005.
The Beavers (12-12, 6-10) sit in sixth place in the Pac-10 after beating Washington State 59-50 and falling to Washington 66-51 last week. Last season, OSU went 6-23 and finished 10th in the Pac-10 at 1-17. LaVonda Wagner is in her first season at OSU. The Beavers are led in scoring by Kim Butler with 18.5 points per game.
USC-OSU Series Record -- USC is 29-15 all-time against OSU and 11-9 on the road. USC has won the past three meetings with OSU. When the Trojans and the Beavers last met, USC posted a 72-62 win in Los Angeles on Dec. 20, 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 94 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 99 career threes. Newcomer to the Top-10 chart is junior Jamie Hagiya, who now sits at No. 10 with 75.
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 19 straight games now -- 24 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 99 threes. She ranked third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.28 spg) and fifth in scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg).
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 3.9 assists per game (fifth in Pac-10) and has scored in double digits in every game but six. 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 3.6 per game and third in steals with 1.5 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 12 Pac-10 games, giving her 16 starts on the season. She's gone from averaging just 7.7 minutes a game as a sophomore to 26.2 mpg as a junior, doubled her career high scoring to 12 points, scored in 19 games and more than doubled her previous career total rebounds and 3-pointers with 106 boards and 10 threes so far this season. Against Washington on Feb. 9, she pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, and she came just one point shy of her career best with 11 crucial points against UCLA on Feb. 18.
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.
KERR IN THE KEY
Junior center Chloe Kerr went big against UCLA on Feb. 18 with a career-high 21 points on 75-percent shooting from the floor. It wasn't quite the .900 mark she hit early in the season vs. Cal State Fullerton, but the big-time scoring effort more than cracked a small slump for Kerr. Kerr had totaled 21 points across the past previous three games before busting loose with career night of 21 all in one game vs. crosstown rival UCLA. She's also ranked No. 3 in the Pac-10 in blocked shots with 1.42 per game.
TAGTEAM, BACK AGAIN
Guards Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir created a dangerous scoring tandem in most of 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 15 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, vs. Oregon State, and at ASU and UCLA, 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.
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.