USC Women Back On Mainland For Two Tests
Nov. 27, 2007
USC is back on the mainland this week, setting up for a pair of local games as the Trojans aim to improve on their 2-2 overall record. The Women of Troy first pay a visit to Cal State Fullerton (1-2) for a 7 p.m. matchup on Friday (Nov. 30). On Monday (Dec. 3), USC is back at the Galen Center to host Utah (3-2) for a 7 p.m. game.
Live stats for Friday's game at Cal State Fullerton will be available online on Gametracker through the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com. On Monday, there will be live video of USC's game vs. Utah available online through Trojan All-Access also at usctrojans.com, as well as Gametracker live stats.
IN THE NATION
USC has received votes in this week's AP polls. Cal State Fullerton and Utah both are unranked.
USC picked up a split last weekend at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, posting a comeback win over Virginia Tech before falling in another tight match with No. 8 Georgia. In the tourney opener against Virginia Tech, USC got a career-high outing from junior Nadia Parker and the final go-ahead bucket from Camille LeNoir to get a 65-64 win over the Hokies. Parker delivered 21 points and 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her career, and set another career mark with a 9-of-11 effort from the floor. Brynn Cameron also had a career high day with five steals, and Simone Jelks added a career-high 12 points for the Women of Troy, who improved to 2-1 overall as they handed the Hokies (3-1) their first loss of the season. Trailing the entire first half, Parker sparked a fire under the Trojans with six consecutive points. Down 35-20 with less than two minutes left in the first half, USC went on a 7-0 run, led by a 3-pointer by Jelks, and two late free throws and a buzzer beater layup by Cameron to cut the Hokies' lead to 35-27 heading into the locker room. The Trojans trailed by as many as 15 points with 9:53 left in the game, before going on an 11-2 run to take the lead 63-62 with 1:22 left in the game. The next night vs. No. 8 Georgia, the Bulldogs led by as many as seven in the opening minutes, before missing 12 of its final 15 shots of the period. The Women of Troy closed the half on an 8-2 run, with 3-pointers from Aarika Hughes -- who led USC with 11 points in the game -- and Heather Oliver as USC took a 34-28 lead into the locker room. USC cooled off from 3-point range early in the second half, with its first seven all failing to connect, and Georgia made a 19-6 run to get the `Dogs a 47-40 lead. Back-to-back threes from LeNoir and Brynn Cameron put USC up 48-47 with 7:33 to play, and the lead changed hands five times in the next 2 1/2 minutes. Georgia knocked down one of two free throws for a 59-57 lead with 12.9 seconds left, and LeNoir's 3-point try to win was just off the mark, ending the game in at Georgia victory.
SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON
The Titans are 1-3 overall after falling to San Francisco 73-63 and to UTEP 78-71 last week. Toni Thomas and Lauren Chow lead CSF in scoring, averaging 23.8 and 18.5 points per game, respectively. Head coach Dr. Maryalyce Jeremiah is in her 12th season at Cal State Fullerton, which went 16-16 overall and finished fifth in the Big West at 7-7 last year. USC is 18-8 all-time against Cal State Fullerton, having won the past three meetings. The Trojans won the most recent game 94-54 in the 2005-06 season.
The Utes are 3-2 overall after going 2-1 at the Oahu Classic last week, when Utah fell in overtime to Marist 70-66 and beat Akron 71-60 and Nebraska 56-44. The Utes have three players averaging double figures: Leilani Mitchell (16.8), Kalee Whipple (16.6) and Morgan Warburton (15.6). Head coach Elaine Elliott is in her 25th season at Utah, which went 19-14 overall last year, racking the WNIT Second Round after a fifth-place finish in the Mountain West. USC is 4-2 all-time against Utah after falling 70-66 to the Utes in Salt Lake City last season.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but has been sidelined since October 2006 by hip surgeries as well as the birth of her son Cole. In her first two games back in action, the junior guard stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game. With 10 threes now this season, Cameron holds 101 career threes to rank No. 6 all-time at Troy.
USC has had some close games this season. Aside from a 13-point win over Colorado, the other three matches this year have been tight. USC's season opener was an overtime decision, where the Trojans fell to UC Santa Barbara, and the two Junkanoo Jam games were both nail-biters, as USC topped Virginia Tech by a single point and then fell to No. 8 Georgia by two.
Nadia Parker made herself well at home in the Bahamas, serving up 28 points and 18 rebounds in the two games on her way to her first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The junior center had a career day in USC's comeback win over Virginia Tech, tallying career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds (also her first career double-double) and a shooting percentage of 9-of-11 (.818) to help spark USC to victory. She now stands as USC's second leading scorer (10.0 ppg) and top rebounder (7.3 rpg).
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
The first thing fans and followers will notice about this season's pack of Women of Troy is a group of faces who haven't quite been on the forefront of the Trojan lineup in a while. Three players who redshirted last season due to injuries et al are back in the mix. Standout point guard Camille LeNoir has healed up following hip surgery; Markisha Lea steps back in as a senior with cartilage intact in her knee; Brynn Cameron sustained her second hip surgery and gave birth to her first child on her way back to the court. Further balancing out the departure of five 2007 graduates are a pair of seniors who have extended their Trojan careers in unique ways. Kate Henderson and Allison Jaskowiak were freshmen together in 2003-04. Henderson wound up transferring after that season, but has since returned to USC and has worked her way back into the picture. Jaskowiak was granted a medical redshirt for that freshman season and has thus received another season of eligibility that allows her to return for her final year on the Trojan roster. With LeNoir, Cameron and Jaskowiak alone back on the court, USC taps back into the talent pool that helped spark the Women of Troy's resurgence to the NCAA Tournament scene with back-to-back postseason runs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake loose of the Women of Troy yet. USC will have two players sidelined this season with torn ACLs. For redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos -- considered the best player in the country coming out of high school in 2006 -- it is an all-too-familiar situation. Gemelos tore her ACL in her final high school game before coming to USC, redshirting her first season. She then reinjured the same knee in the offseason, bringing up a second surgery and pushing the highly anticipated guard's return to the floor back further. True freshman Stefanie Gilbreath endured the same injury just before the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game, leaving the Trojans short another outstanding newcomer for the 2007-08 season.
Lined up to add a depth charge to the backcourt is transfer Heather 'Ollie' Oliver, a member of the Australian Under-21 National Team, which won silver at the U-21 Women's World Championships this summer. She brings a smooth outside shot as well as stifling defensive abilities to the Trojan roster. She recently tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18. She now is averaging 4.3 points per game.
USC boasts a couple of different looks to the point this season, as 5-6 junior floor general Camille LeNoir returns to action after a year out to heal from hip surgery. She's complimented by 6-2 sophomore Hailey Dunham. Despite the height difference, the pair combine forces well in running the Trojans offense, each bringing their own spark to the offense to keep opposing defenses on their toes. LeNoir had her return to the court this season delayed a week, but when the junior point guard hit the floor for her first game against Colorado on Nov. 18, she came out strong with nine points and three assists in the game. The Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham (12 pts, 12 asts) and LeNoir (29 pts, 13 asts) is averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 assists per game.
The Women of Troy welcome three new members to the Trojan family this season. Assistant coach Jody Wynn recently gave birth to her second daughter, Kaeli, in October 2007, and junior Brynn Cameron has her son, Cole, fresh off his first birthday. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
MOVING ON UP
There's no pricetag you can put on experience, but USC returners Nadia Parker, Morghan Medlock and Aarika Hughes are aiming to at least rack up a hefty amount of points for the Women of Troy this season. Now a junior, Parker is charged with the go-to role in the paint after having backed up 2007 grad Chloe Kerr for the past two seasons. Medlock and Hughes boast a versatility that can go unmatched and are primed for success as they get back on court as sophomores following strong freshman seasons. Medlock earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention last season.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante carries the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year. Freshman guard Stefanie Gilbreath will redshirt following offseason knee surgery. LaPlante towers as the tallest Trojan on the roster, setting up the 6-5 freshman to see significant time in the paint this year. She tallied her first points as a Trojan in USC's win over Colorado on Nov. 18, putting in two points and pulling down six rebounds for the Women of Troy.
RANK AND FILE
USC has four scheduled opponents that are ranked in the national AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. 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 preseason polls -- is No. 9/10 Georgia, which the Trojans could well meet on the second day of the Women of Troy Basketball Classic on Nov. 24. The Trojans' next three ranked opponents are Pac-10 teams: No. 7/8 Stanford, No. 12/12 Arizona State and No. 13/14 California. All told, the USC schedule contains seven teams that reached the 2007 NCAA Tournament (Georgia, Prairie View A&M, Nebraska, Arizona State, California, Stanford and Washington) and three teams that ended the year ranked in the top-25 (No. 13/13 Georgia, No. 8/10 Arizona State and No. 16/5 Stanford).
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 4 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll and the Media Poll. The Trojans received 56 points in the coaches poll to come in behind top pick and defending conference champ Stanford (79 points), No. 2 Arizona State (71) and No. 3 pick California (68). Sitting below the Trojans in fifth is UCLA with 44 points.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year. Six players who saw time as starters return for 2007-08 -- sophomores Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock and seniors Nicole Berberet, Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks.
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