USC Closes Pac-10 Play with Bay Area Road Trip
Feb. 20, 2007
USC heads into its final weekend of the Pac-10 regular season, winding down the conference competition against California and No. 8 Stanford. The Women of Troy (15-10, 10-6 Pac-10) first face the Bears (20-7, 10-6) at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 22) in Berkeley. Cal and USC currently are tied for third in the standings, making this game a big one as the Pac-10 Tournament approaches. Live stats and audio will be available for that game at www.usctrojans.com. Next, USC takes on the Cardinal in a 12 p.m. televised game on Sunday (Feb. 25) in Palo Alto. That game will be broadcast by Fox Sports.
IN THE NATION
The Women of Troy are unranked in the national polls this week. California dropped out of the rankings this week, while Stanford is No. 8 according to AP and 10 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
USC wound up with a split in its final home regular-season series last week. The Trojans were unable to pull out an upset of No. 8 Arizona State falling 68-57 on Thursday. USC worked things out in its second half against Arizona days later, however, posting a 66-42 win over the Wildcats after USC honored its six graduating seniors in a pregame ceremony at the Galen Center. Against ASU, USC was led in scoring by Jamie Hagiya, who scored in double figures for the 12th straight game with her 15-point performance. Shay Murphy had her 10th double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds for USC, only to have ASU get four players in double figures. Both teams made sure to press each other hard, and the pressure was working to USC's advantage as the Trojans led 20-12 until ASU turned things around. USC fell into a serious scoring slump, unable to score from the floor for the last 10 minutes of the half while the Sun Devils reeled off 21 points to erase USC's lead and build a 33-24 Sun Devil halftime lead. USC was able to manufacture an 8-2 scoring run to get back into the game, and closed to within four in the final 1:30 but ASU's 18th fast break points of the night came next and the rest were free throws to put USC out of reach of an upset. USC dominated the boards to the tune of a 43-32 rebounding advantage (including 21 offensive rebounds by the Trojans) and put up a season-high blocks count with nine. For the first time since a loss at OSU in 2005-06, USC had two players foul out of a Pac-10 game, with centers Chloe Kerr and Nadia Parker sidelined in the second half. On Saturday against Arizona, USC had all five of its senior starters score on Senior Day, as the Trojans closed down their regular-season home schedule with a 66-42 win. Murphy led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds in her 26 minutes of play for her 25th game in double figures this season, and sophomore Nadia Parker was next with 14 points and nine rebounds for the Trojans. After a spotty shooting effort in the first half, USC opened the second half of play with an 11-2 run in the first four minutes and led 50-27 with 10 minutes to go in the game thanks in part to an 11-0 run by the Women of Troy. With the 24 percent shooting percentage of the first half well behind it, USC upped its scoring mark to 40 percent as it worked its way ahead 62-35 as the final five minutes of action approached. The Trojans' 47-31 rebounding advantage and a feisty defensive effort forced the Wildcats to a season-low 42 points, while USC shot 56 percent and was 43 percent from 3-point range in the second half to help power up to the win.
The Bears are 20-7 overall and 10-6 in Pac-10 play after losing 62-42 at Oregon and beating OSU 67-61 in overtime last week. Head coach Joanne Boyle is in her second season at Cal. The Bears went 18-12 last season, reaching the NCAA First Round after placing sixth in the Pac-10 at 10-8. Cal returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last year's squad. Ashley Walker leads the Bears with 16.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and Devanei Hamption adds 15.9 ppg and 7.7 rpg. USC is 31-16 all-time against Cal, but the Bears have won the past three meetings, including Cal's 62-53 win over USC at the Galen Center on Jan. 22, 2007.
The Cardinal are 23-4 overall and 15-1 in Pac-10 play after beating OSU 70-55 and Oregon 74-56 last week on the road. Head coach Tara VanDerveer is in her 21st season at Stanford. The Cardinal went 26-8 last season, reaching the NCAA Elite Eight after finishing first in the Pac-10 at 15-3. Stanford returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's squad. Candice Wiggins leads the Cardinal in scoring with 16.3 points per game. USC is 18-37 all-time against Stanford, with the Cardinal claiming eight straight wins over the Trojans, including a 62-46 win at the Galen Center this season. USC last beat Stanford 59-56 at home on Jan. 25, 2004.
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.
Saturday's game vs. Arizona marked the final home regular-season game for USC's six seniors. Five are regular starters for the Women of Troy, and altogether the group averages 51.5 points and 27.8 rebounds per game. That accounts for 71 percent of USC's scoring and 59 percent of its rebounding. This year's heralded senior class includes Jamie Funn, Jamie Hagiya, Allison Jaskowiak, Chloe Kerr, Shay Murphy and Kristen Travers.
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. With back-to-back double-doubles, however, Murphy got back on track and now boasts double-digit scoring in 50 of the past 51 games. Murphy currently holds 1,427 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. With five steals against ASU, Murphy passed up Lisa Leslie on USC's career steals charts and now ranks No. 6 all-time with 232.
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 55-33.
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 254-156.
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 125 career threes, with fellow senior Shay Murphy holding the No. 1 all-time spot with 175.
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 12 straight games until hitting six points (along with seven assists) against Arizona last week. She's averaging 10.3 points per game, and 11.2 in Pac-10 play, and is serving up 4.4 assists per game. USC went 11-5 when Hagiya scores in double figures so far this season, and was 9-3 during her recent double-digit streak. 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 398 career assists -- within 15 of tying up another USC legend, Cheryl Miller.
Senior center Chloé Kerr has scored in double figures in 19 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 41.
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 21 games this year, Berberet has gone from averaging 3.0 minutes per game in USC's first eight games, to averaging 10.5 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 18.
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 Pac-10's second leading scorer (18.1 ppg) and 3-point shooter (2.42 pg) and is No. 1 in rebounding (8.7 rpg), steals (2.31 pg), free-throw percentage (.867) and offensive rebounds (3.50 pg). Her free-throw percentage also ranks her No. 18 in the nation. 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 also is 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 activities.
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 9-3 with Funn back in the lineup, and the senior is averaging 6.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game so far. .
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Senior center Chloe Kerr is USC's second leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and second leading rebounder (6.6 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 135 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. 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
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 HS -- 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. Medlock -- a McDonald's All-American -- has started seven games for the Women of Troy and is averaging 6.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg in her first year at Troy. Against UCLA on Jan. 13, 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.
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.
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.