USC Women Prep For UCLA Clash At Pauley
Jan. 9, 2007
Almost a year ago, USC tacked up its third straight win over crosstown rival UCLA on the Bruins' home court. This weekend, the Women of Troy are aiming to maintain that momentum with their first clash of the season against UCLA. Both teams come in at 3-3 in Pac-10 play, and considering the past five games have been decided by no more than four points, the coming showdown at Pauley Pavilion has all the makings of another true battle. USC (9-7, 3-3) pays a visit to UCLA (9-9, 3-3) at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 13). Live audio and stats will be available online at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
The Women of Troy are unranked in the national polls this week. UCLA also is unranked.
GRAB THE GAUNTLET
This weekend's matchup with UCLA marks another heated battle in the year-long Lexus Gauntlet competition between the rival schools. The Women of Troy are playing to get the school back in contention for the Lexus Gauntlet trophy. The Bruins have jumped out to a 30-5 lead in the annual all-sports competition, which USC won last season. Five points are on the line in Saturday's game. It takes 57.5 points to clinch the Lexus Gauntlet.
USC tacked up a Pac-10 sweep last week, grabbing a 79-71 win over Oregon in the Trojans' first overtime game of the season and then posting a 59-51 victory over Oregon State a day later. The Trojans adjusted to Oregon's 3-point threat that had been so sharp in the first half and tightened their defense enough to steal back a slim lead late in the second half. The Ducks' 10th 3-pointer of the game grabbed back the advantage for Oregon, however, and took a late lead with their 11th. After USC forced a five-second violation on an Oregon inbounds with 20 seconds to go in regulation, Shay Murphy secured her 40th consecutive game in double figures with a layup with 12 seconds to help force overtime. She nailed two 3-pointers in the last 1:30 of the first overtime to pull USC even and force a second overtime period, then added another along with four free throws as USC pulled ahead to secure the win over the Ducks. On Sunday, Oregon State and USC's respective defenses did a solid job of containing each other's top scorers in the game. OSU guard and Pac-10 scoring leader Casey Nash was plagued by foul trouble and fouled out of the game with 4:26 remaining, having scored a season-low 8 points for her first game out of double figures this season. USC's leading scorer Shay Murphy also had a relatively slow scoring day, finally hitting her 41st straight game in double figures with a jumper at 4:12 in the second half and finishing with 12 points. She was all over the boards, however, pulling down a game-high nine rebounds. Instead, USC was led in scoring with 14 points by senior guard Jamie Hagiya for the first time this season, while OSU got a career-high from Judie Lomax with a game-high 18 points. USC's Jamie Funn also hit double digits for the Women of Troy, pouring in 10 points and pulling down eight rebounds, and Nadia Parker matched her mark with 10 points to finish as USC's fourth player in double figures.
The Bruins are 9-9 overall and 3-3 in Pac-10 play after splitting conference games last week. UCLA lost 56-52 to Oregon State and beat Oregon 77-70. Head coach Kathy Olivier is in her 14th season at UCLA. The Bruins went 21-11 last season, finishing third in the Pac-10 at 12-6 and reaching the NCAA Second Round. UCLA ended 2005-06 ranked No. 18. The Bruins return eight letterwinners from that team, including three starters. Noelle Quinn leads UCLA in scoring with 16.6 points per game. USC is 37-31 all-time against UCLA, with the Trojans sweeping last season's games to claim three straight wins over the Bruins. The past five games between the two teams have been decided by four or fewer points. The last meeting was a 77-73 USC win at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 18, 2006.
Out of action: 3 redshirts, 3 injured roster players -- USC will redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and junior Camille LeNoir this year in order to allow the two guards to heal from respective injuries. Gemelos suffered a torn ACL in her final high school game, and LeNoir suffered a broken hip during the offseason. Also redshirting the season will be junior Brynn Cameron. Senior Markisha Lea has been sidelined all season with a knee injury. Freshman Aarika Hughes (foot) has been out of action since the beginning of December, and freshman Hailey Dunham (back) was injured against Stanford on Dec. 20.
WELCOME TO THE CLUBS
Senior guard Shay Murphy reached a landmark last weekend on USC's first road trip of the season. With a 23-point night at South Dakota State, Murphy hit the 1,000 career point-mark on the money on Nov. 17 -- her 91st career game. She began the season with 956 career points and has now extended her double-digit scoring streak to 41 straight games to now hold 1,255 career points and include herself on a legendary list of Women of Troy who have hit that heralded career mark. She becomes the 20th Trojan to break through the 1,000-point plateau, joining USC greats Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, who had their jerseys retired and hung in the Galen Center on Nov. 10. Her 33-point outing at Colorado on Dec. 2 made her just the 14th Trojan to have scored 30 or more points in a game, with the last such effort coming back in 2002.
With five three pointers over the weekend, senior point guard Jamie Hagiya passed up current USC assistant coach Jody Wynn (then Jody Anton) on USC's all-time 3-point shooting list. Hagiya now ranks as the No. 4 all-time 3-point shooter at Troy with 106 career threes, while Wynn finished her Trojan career with 103.
Shay Murphy isn't the only Trojan to have hit her scoring stride. Senior center Chloé Kerr has joined Murphy in double figures in all but two of USC's 16 games this season. She had scored in double digits in 14 straight games stretching from last season's NCAA Tournament action until a slow night at Washington. Kerr made sure to pick up the pace the following game, however, leading all scorers with 19 points against WSU on Dec. 31.
WALK RIGHT UP
USC guard Nicole Berberet is a junior academically, a freshman eligibility-wise, and on paper may well be the last player opponents would expect to see in a scouting report. But despite not having played competitive basketball since her sophomore year of high school, Berberet made the USC roster as a walk-on this year and earned herself a starting role at point guard on Dec. 29. Appearing in 14 games this year, Berberet has gone from averaging 3.0 minutes per game in USC's first eight games, to averaging 14.5 minutes per game during Pac-10 play. She has nabbed five steals and is 2-for-2 from 3-point range
Sophomore center Nadia Parker had a career weekend at the Women of Troy Classic. After hitting double figures only twice in her freshman season at Troy, Parker posted back-to-back double-digit efforts and led the Trojans in scoring for the first time in her career in both games -- first with a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds against Prairie View A&M, and then with a game-high 16 points against Houston.
HIGHS AND LOWS
USC's winning efforts at the inaugural Women of Troy Basketball Classic saw the Trojans hit some new bests for the 2006-07 season. USC hauled down a season-high 54 rebounds (54) against Prairie View A&M, and then bettered that mark by an additional board the next game against Houston. 55 was USC's best rebounding mark last season as well. On the other end of the spectrum, USC held both teams to season-low scoring marks in the first half. Houston's 11 points in the first half stands as the second lowest scoring mark all-time by a USC opponent in a half.
This season, the 2006-07 Trojans were tabbed the No. 22 team in the nation according to the AP and USA Today preseason polls. The Women of Troy also weighed in at No. 15 according to ESPN.com and No. 25 according to Street & Smith. One of five Pac-10 teams to receive a preseason top-25 rank from ESPN.com, the Women of Troy were also tabbed as one of ESPN's 'Three Programs On the Rise.'
RANK AND FILE
USC has five scheduled opponents that were ranked in the final 2005-06 USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. Three of those are Pac-10 foes whom USC sees at least twice this season. The Trojans were 2-7 against ranked teams in 2005-06. The first top-25 team on tap for USC -- which received votes in the final poll -- was No. 10 Ohio State on Nov. 19 in Columbus, Ohio. Two weeks later, USC came up against No. 12 Utah, again on the road, on Dec. 4 in Salt Lake City. The Trojans' next three ranked opponents are Pac-10 teams: No. 7 Stanford, No. 17 Arizona State and No. 18 UCLA. USC lost three times to the Cardinal in 2005-06, split games with the Sun Devils, and swept the Bruins during Pac-10 action.
A record six Pac-10 teams reached the NCAA Tournament in 2006. Five won their first-round games, and three ended the season ranked in the Top 25. Six teams are also ranked in the nation's top 25 this year, and six Pac-10 players received WBCA/Kodak All-America honors last season. Four of those athletes are back for more this year, including USC senior Shay Murphy.
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
With her double-figure efforts against Oregon and OSU over the weekend, Shay Murphy extended her double-digit scoring streak to 41 games -- an accomplishment that carries over from her junior season in which she received Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mention. She provided team-high scoring (17.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), steals (2.4 spg) and 3-pointers made (69) and finished out the year ranked among the top-10 in the Pac-10 in seven categories. Murphy's 2006-07 preseason honors now include: State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Candidate, John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team, Street & Smith Preseason Honorable Mention, Preseason All-Pac-10 Team. Most recently, Murphy was tabbed a Naismith Trophy Preseason Candidate.
Junior Camille LeNoir is now one of three USC athletes hailing from nearby Narbonne High School. Senior forward Jamie Funn is the eldest of the trio, with freshman Morghan Medlock rounding out the high school connections on the Trojan roster. Four years ago, the three were teammates on Narbonne's Los Angeles City Section champion team.
Senior forward Jamie Funn is one of seven seniors on the USC squad. Her junior season was cut short when an offseason hip injury required surgery halfway through the year. Thanks to a broken nose suffered early in the season, Funn donned a face mask for the 16 games she appeared in. She notched nine starts and averaged 5.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She has been sidelined for the start of the 2006-07 season, but has now finally returned to the court for the Women of Troy, having averaged seven points and five rebounds in her first two games back.
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Center Chloé Kerr was USC's third leading scorer (9.4 ppg) and the Pac-10's third leading shot blocker (1.5 bpg) as a junior. At 6-3, Kerr boasts the height and experience to stand strong as the Trojans' go-to post player. She recently nailed a career-high 25 points -- including an 11-of-11 effort from the free throw line to rank No. 3 all-time in single-game free throw percentage -- against Nebraska, earning her first career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week.
TOP CLASS -- WITH A TWIST
USC drummed up four standout freshmen to the roster for 2006. Heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, the foursome of Jacki Gemelos, Aarika Hughes, Hailey Dunham and Morghan Medlock put the finishing touches on Trakh's 2006-07 lineup. However, in a surprising and frustrating turn of events, injuries have knocked three of those freshmen out of action this season. Gemelos -- tabbed the No. 1 recruit in the nation and a McDonald's All-American in her senior year at St. Mary's High School -- suffered a torn ACL at the close of her prep season, and the sharp-shooting guard is redshirting her first season at Troy to fully heal from the setback. Guard Hughes has been sidelined since the end of November with a stress fracture in her foot, and point guard Dunham sustained a back injury on Dec. 20 against Stanford to become the third member of the 2006 recruiting class to be painfully forced to the USC bench. Both Hughes and Dunham had seen time in the starting lineuStill in action for the Trojans is Medlock -- a McDonald's All-American. She has started seven games for the Women of Troy and is averaging 6.3 ppg and 5.0 rpg in her first year at Troy.
As an overwhelming welcoming gift to the new-and-improved USC team, the Women of Troy kick off their 2006-07 season in a new home. The impressive Galen Center facility offers a plush and state-of-the-art forum for the Women of Troy to build on their tradition of success. Coach Trakh and his troops have 15 home games on the schedule -- not including the 2007 NCAA First and Second Rounds that the Women of Troy plan to be a part of in March.
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 3 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll. The Trojans received 63 points to come in behind top pick and six-time defending conference champ Stanford (81 points) and No. 2 Arizona State (70). Tied up in fourth place with 53 points are California and Washington, with UCLA coming in at No. 6 with 46 points.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year, and eight of them return this season. Already this year, Trakh has utilized eight different starting lineups, with all three active freshmen having seen at least one start this year.
While Allison Jaskowiak was a starter for USC at the 2006 NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Va., her sister Emily Jaskowiak started for Tulsa at the NCAA tournament in Chicago. Both sisters helped lead their schools to the second round. Also, on the same night that USC point guard Camille LeNoir helped lead the Women of Troy to a Pac-10 Tournament win against Washington on March 4 with 17 points and five assists, her younger sister Danielle, a former ball girl at USC, had 10 points and four steals as her Narbonne High School won the Los Angeles City Section championship.
A LOOK BACK
USC is coming off a 2005-06 season where it posted an 11-7 mark in Pac-10 play to finish tied with Washington in fourth place behind Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. Eight Pac-10 regular-season games were decided by five or fewer points for the Trojans, leaving USC with a 5-3 mark in those tight conference games. After three straight down-to-the-wire games at the close of the regular season, USC pulled out possibly its most crucial win with a tense 70-67 victory over Washington in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. That effort gave the Trojans their 18th win to lock them into the NCAA Tournament.
THE TOUGH GET GOING
USC returns two of its hardest working senior guards in Jamie Hagiya and Allison Jaskowiak. A well-respected point guard, Hagiya stands out as the Pac-10 leader in assist/turnover ratio and was second on the team in assists as a junior. She has climbed the Trojan career charts as the No. 6 all-time 3-point shooter (97 career threes) and the No. 7 all-time assists leader (339 career assists). This season, Hagiya's defensive tenacity, ball-handling and distribution skills will again be a huge factor in the gameplan for the Women of Troy. Now with a freshly healed knee, Jaskowiak is back for more after a phenomenal junior season for the Trojans. As the USC roster was thinned out by injuries, Jaskowiak made it known to her teammates and opponents that she wouldn't let the Women of Troy down, even with a banged-up body of her own down the final stretch of the 2005-06 season. She hadn't started a game in her first two years at USC, but as a junior she proved a crucial part of the Trojans' starting lineup. Jaskowiak started 23 games and averaged 26.4 minutes per game, standing out as an unselfish player with dominating defensive skills and an ability to both hit the boards and the perimeter shot.
In contrast to USC's load of seniors, the Trojans have just one sophomore in center Nadia Parker. Also towering in the key at 6-3, Parker provides a strong one-two punch at the post when paired with Kerr. Parker played in every game as a freshman, generating 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game to go along with 19 blocks. An enthusiastic presence in the paint, Parker brings size, strength and a deepening pool of experience to the center position at USC.
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