USC Women Aim For Road Sweep
Feb. 19, 2008
USC holds a three-game win streak as it sets its sights set on its first Pac-10 road sweep of the season. The Trojans aim to get their second wins of the year against Oregon and Oregon State. USC (16-9, 9-5 Pac-10) first pays a visit to Oregon (11-15, 5-10) in a 7 p.m. game on Thursday (Feb. 21) in Eugene, Ore. The Trojans then head to Corvallis to face Oregon State (10-16, 3-12) in another 7 p.m. match on Saturday (Feb. 23).
USC's final home game against Arizona State is now scheduled to be televised live on FSN. The Trojans host the Sun Devils at 11 a.m. on March 1 at the Galen Center.
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through Gametracker will be available online for both games this week through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC, Oregon and Oregon State are unranked in this week's polls.
USC kept its crosstown rivals quiet last weekend, holding UCLA to just over half its season average and its lowest scoring total in program history with a 49-36 win over the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion. En route to their seventh straight win over UCLA, the Women of Troy were led by a double-double from Nadia Parker, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and 10 points from Camille LeNoir. Meanwhile, the Bruins were left with no players in double figures. UCLA's top scorer was Tierra Henderson with seven points on the day. The Trojans put forth its most powerful first-half defensive effort of the season in holding the Bruins to just 12 points on 13 percent shooting while the Women of Troy worked out to a 22-12 halftime lead thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Hailey Dunham. The Bruins had entered the game averaging almost 70 points per game, but by the final buzzer UCLA was just over half that total after being held to a 23 percent shooting effort on the day by the Trojans. USC, meanwhile, shot 36 percent in the game. The Bruins won out on the boards 46-42, while USC held the advantage in turnovers (16-20), steals (11-8) and assists (10-7). LeNoir dished out seven of those USC assists, and committed no turnovers while grabbing four steals for the Trojans in the game.
The Ducks are 11-15 overall and 5-10 in Pac-10 play after losing 61-60 to Washington and beating Washington State 70-67 last week to snap a seven-game losing streak. Taylor Lilley leads Oregon with 12.3 points per game. Head coach Bev Smith is in her seventh season at Oregon, which went 17-14 and finished sixth in the Pac-10 at 8-10 last season. USC is 32-16 all-time against the Ducks after getting a 46-42 win in Los Angeles last month. The teams split last season in Pac-10 play, as USC beat Oregon 79-71 in overtime in Los Angeles and lost 73-63 in Eugene.
The Beavers are 10-16 overall and 3-12 in Pac-10 play after losing their eighth straight last week. OSU fell 56-52 to Washington State and 58-53 to Washington last week on the road. Ashley Allen leads OSU with 16.2 points per game. Head coach LaVonda Wagner is in her third season at OSU, which went 9-19 and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 4-14 last season. USC is 32-16 all-time against the Beavers after posting a 59-47 win last month in Los Angeles. USC has won the past three meetings against OSU, last falling 67-64 in Corvallis in 2006.
In addition to the loss of redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and true freshman Stephanie Gilbreath following offseason knee surgeries, sophomore guard Aarika Hughes has been sidelined indefinitely by a foot injury as of Jan. 21. Freshman center Kari LaPlante had been out with a foot injury as of Feb. 7 until returning on Feb. 17 against UCLA. Morghan Medlock, missed the last Oregon series with injury but returned to the lineup on Jan. 31. Gemelos, Gilbreath and Medlock all came to USC as McDonald's All-Americans, and Hughes has participated at the U.S. Under-20 National Team trials.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but had 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. Now with 34 threes this season, Cameron stands all alone in the No. 3 all-time slot with 125 career 3-pointers -- seven short of former teammate Jamie Hagiya at No. 2
Greatly missed from the USC lineup last season was point guard Camille LeNoir, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Following surgery, the junior returned to the floor this season as a redshirt junior, and wasted little time getting right back to her impressive ways on court. She's set up camp as USC's second leading scorer this season, averaging 10.6 points, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Against Cal State Fullerton, LeNoir matched Trojan great Cheryl Miller's 100 percent effort on the floor from 1985, coming one short of Miller's 10-of-10 outing by going 9-for-9 and finishing with a season-high 19 points. LeNoir also served up a career-high eight assists in USC's Pac-10 opener against Arizona, and recently knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers in USC's upset win over then-No. 2 Stanford. With two more threes against Oregon, LeNoir passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books, and LeNoir now ranks No. 6 all-time at USC in career threes with 108. Against UCLA on Feb. 17, LeNoir added seven assists to her season tally (now at 92), pushing her into the all-time top 10 at USC, as she now sits at No. 10 with 319 career assists.
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 has since hit a new career high, scoring 23 points in a win over WSU on Feb. 10. Parker has now recorded a total of five double-doubles, most recently grabbing 10 rebounds and adding 18 points in USC's Feb. 17 win over UCLA. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and top rebounder (6.7 rpg). She's hit double figures in 16 of USC's 25 games to date.
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.
Known for their stifling defense, USC seniors Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks have also come up strong on the offensive end this season. Jelks averaged 2.6 points per game last season as a junior, and has upped her tally to 4.9 ppg so far this season to help in USC's balanced offensive effort. Jaskowiak has also increased her offensive role, going from 3.1 ppg last season to 3.6 this year. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed 16 to doubles up last year's mark of seven, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 15 so far to beat last year's 11.
Adding a serious 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 tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18, and has now become a mainstay in the starting lineup, starting the past 18 games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.5 points per game after setting new career highs with 21 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers against Washington State on Feb. 10. She has posted double-digit efforts in nine of the past 16 games.
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 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 (128 pts, 57 asts) and LeNoir (240 pts, 92 asts) is averaging 15.5 points and 6.3 assists per game.
DUNHAM DOES IT ALL
When fellow sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock were both out of the lineup with injuries, Hailey Dunham had to expand her role from back-up point guard to a flexible guard/forward that has put the sophomore in the 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots on the court for the Women of Troy. So far so good, as the flexible 6-2 Dunham showed her versatility during that stretch with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and a 4-for-4 free-throw effort in games against OSU and Oregon for the Trojans. She averages 5.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante has carried the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year until a foot injury sidelined LaPlante for two games (Feb. 8 and 10). 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 for 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. After a career night against OSU where she led USC with 13 points and two more double-figure outings against Oregon and Stanford, LaPlante now averages 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds 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, who turned 1 in October. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
Although injuries have hampered the amount of time they've been able to spend on the court recently, sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock both have stepped up as key contributors in their second season at Troy. Both versatile players with ball-handling skills and a slick 3-point shot to go along with size and strength, the pair picked up the pace on all accounts this year. Hughes and Medlock combined for 9.0 points per game last season, and have averaged a combined 12.4 this year. Hughes upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she was averaging 6.1 ppg and nailed 17 threes until her foot injury sidelined her indefinitely. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 6.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg this season.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake completely 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.
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. This year USC is on a similar page, with nine different players getting at least one starting nod, as the Trojans have utilized seven different starting lineups.
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.