USC Take On UCLA At The Galen Center
Feb. 6, 2007
USC's push toward the postseason heats up this week, as the Women of Troy turn to face crosstown rival UCLA for the teams' second showdown of the year. The Trojans (14-9, 8-5) hold a four-game winning streak against the Bruins (13-12, 7-6), and the past six games between the two teams have been tight ones, each decided by no more than four points. This weekend, USC plays host to the Bruins for an 11 a.m. contest on Saturday (Feb. 10) at the Galen Center. The game is scheduled to be televised on FSN, and live stats and audio also will be available online at www.usctrojans.com. For the first time in program history, the game has sold out, with all tickets to Saturday's game having been purchased as of Feb. 1, marking a landmark for the Women of Troy and a certain energetic atmosphere set for the first-ever USC-UCLA women's basketball game at the Trojans' brand-new Galen Center.
IN THE NATION
The Women of Troy are unranked in the national polls this week. UCLA also is unranked.
USC got a road split last weekend, grabbing a heart-stopping 68-65 win at Oregon State before falling 73-63 at Oregon to a determined and defensive Ducks team. In a game of runs at OSU, the Trojans trailed by 11 with 8:30 to go, but manufactured a comeback. Shay Murphy scored the last 10 points for the Women of Troy, tying the game up with a pair of free throws before Jamie Hagiya came up with an offensive rebound and slipped the ball to Murphy deep in 3-point territory. Murphy drained the shot with 2.5 seconds remaining -- her first career game-ending winning shot -- finishing off the senior guard's 47th straight game in double figures with 24 points on the night. Hagiya also hit double figures for the ninth straight game with 11 points, and Chloe Kerr had 10 points. The Beavers' Pac-10 scoring leader, Casey Nash, led all scorers with 27 points and took the final shot with a near-miss on a last-second shot from near halfcourt. USC would not be as productive in their next comeback attempt of the weekend, however. At Oregon, the Ducks shot 48 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the line with four players in double figures, while USC shot 36 pecent and was 58 percent on free throws. What may well have ended up plaguing the Women of Troy the most, however, was a poor showing from the free-throw line. While Oregon went 27-of-30 (90%) from the line, USC was just 15-of-26 (58%). Hagiya and Kerr both finished in double figures with 12 points apiece, but Oregon had four players in double digits led by Tamika Nurse's 16 points -- 14 of which came from the free-throw line. For the first time in 48 games, Murphy missed hitting double digits, finishing with seven points for the Trojans as a result of a solid defensive effort by the Ducks against USC's leading scorer.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins are 13-12 overall and 7-6 in Pac-10 play after losing at Oregon and beating Oregon State last weekend. Head coach Kathy Olivier is in her 14th season at UCLA. The Bruins went 21-11 last season, finishing third in the Pac-10 and reaching the NCAA Second Round. UCLA returns eight letterwinners from last year's team, including three starters. Noelle Quinn leads Bruins with 16.8 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game.
USC-UCLA Series Record: USC is 38-31 all-time against the Bruins, with the Trojans holding a four-game winning streak against UCLA. The past six games have been decided by four or fewer points in the rivalry. USC claimed the most recent win in a 75-72 decision at UCLA on Jan. 13, 2007.
GRAB THE GAUNTLET
Saturday's USC-UCLA face-off puts another valuable five points on the line in the Lexus Gauntlet Challenge, the annual all-sport trophy up for grabs each year between the two schools. UCLA currently leads 35-12.5. USC and UCLA have traded the trophy each year, with the Trojans winning the inaugural trophy in 2002, as well as in 2004 and 2006. The Lexus Gauntlet is presented by the Southern California Lexus Dealers, the leading sponsors of both UCLA and USC athletic departments.
Out of action: 4 redshirts -- 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 and is now tabbed to redshirt. Previously injured freshmen Aarika Hughes (foot) and Hailey Dunham (back) both have recently returned to the floor for USC. Hughes returned at Arizona (1/18) after sitting out since the beginning of December, and Dunham got back to action at OSU (2/1) after being sidelined since Dec. 20.
WELCOME TO THE CLUBS
Senior guard Shay Murphy reached a landmark 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 extended her double-digit scoring streak to 47 straight games before missing her first game in double figures on Feb. 3. Murphy currently holds 1,388 career points, including herself on a legendary list of Women of Troy who have hit that heralded career mark. She has become 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. Murphy broke that barrier for the second time with 30 against Arizona on Jan. 18, becoming just the seventh Trojan to have repeat 30-point outings in a single season. The last player to do so was Tina Thompson in the 1996-97 season.
THE BIG 5-0
We're not talking birthday candles, but rather a nice half-century mark of wins for USC head coach Mark Trakh. With the Trojans' 77-68 victory over Arizona on Jan. 18, Trakh recorded his 50th win at USC. His overall record at Troy is now 53-32.
AND THE BIGGER 2-5-0
If these were candles, Mark Trakh may still be blowing them out. Instead, he's now free to celebrate hitting the 250 career win mark, having grabbed his 250th victory with USC's 65-47 win over WSU on Jan. 26. Trakh's career collegiate coaching record is now 252-155.
With five 3-pointers in USC's winning home series against Oregon and OSU, 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. Wynn finished her Trojan career with 103 three-pointers. After a trio of threes against Arizona and another at ASU, Hagiya vaulted herself into sole possession of the No. 2 spot all-time, where she now stands alone with with 121 career threes, with fellow senior Shay Murphy holding the No. 1 all-time spot with 171.
As USC's lone healthy scholarship point guard, pressure has been heaped on senior Jamie Hagiya's shoulders. Hagiya has willingly accepted that role, and performed. A proven ball-handler in her four years at Troy, Hagiya has also stepped up her scoring, pumping in double figures in the past 10 games. She's averaging 10.3 points per game, and 11.4 in Pac-10 play, and is serving up 4.3 assists per game. USC is 10-4 when Hagiya scores in double figures so far this season, and is 8-2 during her double-digit streak to date. On USC's Oregon trip, Hagiya passed up Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time career assists ladder. Having displaced Cooper, Hagiya now ranks No. 5 all-time and holds 384 career assists.
Senior center Chloé Kerr has joined Murphy in double figures in all but four of USC's 23 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, and replicated that effort with a game-high 19 at UCLA on Jan. 13. She also leads the team in blocks with 37.
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 20 games this year, Berberet has gone from averaging 3.0 minutes per game in USC's first eight games, to averaging 11.0 minutes per game during Pac-10 play. She has nabbed 10 steals and is 2-for-3 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. She's also second on the team in blocks with 17.
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
WIth her game-winning efforts at OSU on Feb. 1, Shay Murphy extended her double-digit scoring streak to 47 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. This season, she has improved across the board once again. Entering this week's action, Murphy is the second leading scorer (18.8 ppg) and rebounder (8.5 rpg) in the Pac-10, and is No. 1 free-throw percentage (.890), 3-pointers made (59, 2.57 pg), steals (2.26 spg) and in offensive rebounds (3.26 pg). Her free-throw percentage also ranks her No. 13 in the nation, and she is tied at No. 24 in 3-pointers per game. 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. She is also a candidate for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award, an honor celebrating a student-athlete's outstanding athletic abilities as well as personality, leadership, perseverance and extracurricular actvities.
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 was sidelined for the start of the 2006-07 season, but has now finally returned to the court for the Women of Troy. USC is 7-2 with Funn back in the lineup, and the senior is averaging 5.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game so far. .
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Senior center Chloe Kerr is USC's second leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and second leading rebounder (6.8 rpg) this season. At 6-3, Kerr boasts the height and experience to stand strong as the Trojans' go-to post player. This season, she 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. USC's top blocker this season, Kerr now boasts 131 career blocks, ranking her No. 5 all-time in USC's history books.
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.
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.
TOP CLASS -- WITH A PAINFUL 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 to three freshmen have left Medlock as the only one in the class to appear in every contest 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 had been sidelined since the end of November with a stress fracture in her foot until returning on Jan. 18, 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 lineup until their injuries struck, but still 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 6.7 ppg and 4.6 rpg in her first year at Troy. Against UCLA, Medlock pumped in seven straight points on her way to an 11-point outing for her fourth double-digit game of the season, and hit double figures again with 10 at ASU.
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 March 17 & 19.
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.
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. This year, Trakh again has utilized nine different starting lineups, with three freshmen having seen at least one start.
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.