USC Women Enter Last Home Stand Of The Year
Feb. 26, 2008
USC is lined up to play its final Pac-10 regular-season games at home, where the Women of Troy hold a solid 11-1 record. Coming to the Galen Center to face the Trojans this week are Arizona and Arizona State. USC (17-10, 10-6 Pac-10) is set to play Arizona (9-18, 3-13) at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 29), and then faces Arizona State (18-9, 12-4) in a 11 a.m. match on Saturday (March 1), which will be televised live by FSN.
Both games will be available on the web through Trojan TV All-Access at www.usctrojans.com. Live video and audio is available for the Arizona game, as well as live stats on Gametracker also linked from the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com. On Saturday, the USC-ASU matchup will have live stats and audio available, and will be televised live by Fox Sports Net, with play-by-play from Jim Watson and color commentary by Mary Murphy.
IN THE NATION
USC, Arizona and Arizona State are unranked in this week's polls, though the Sun Devils are receiving votes in both polls.
On Saturday, USC will recognize and honor its six departing seniors for their careers at Troy. Heading into their final home game as Trojans are seniors Nicole Berberet, Kate Henderson, Allison Jaskowiak, Simone Jelks, Markisha Lea and Lisa Yamasaki. Jaskowiak and Lea have been members of the USC program since 2003-04, having extended their careers with redshirt seasons while at Troy. Jelks has contributed four seasons as a Trojan; and Berberet, Henderson and Yamasaki have played two seasons each for the Women of Troy.
The Wildcats are 9-18 overall and 3-13 in Pac-10 play after falling 60-58 to Washington and losing 67-54 to WSU last week. Ashley Whisonant is Arizona's leading scorer with 15.6 points per game. Head coach Joan Bonvicini is in her 17th season at Arizona, which went 11-21 overall and finished ninth in the Pac-10 at 4-14 last year. USC is 44-16 all-time against the Wildcats, having won the past six meetings including a 77-70 decision in Tucson earlier this season.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
The Sun Devils are 18-9 overall and are in third place ahead of the Trojans at 12-4 in Pac-10 play after beating Washington State 59-30 and Washington 69-53 last week. Lauren Lacey and Briann January lead ASU with 12.9 and 11.0 points per game, respectively. Head coach Charli Turner Thorne is in her 12th season at ASU, which went 31-5 overall with a trip to the Elite Eight after finished second in the Pac-10 at 16-2 last season. USC is 47-13 all-time against the Sun Devils but has lost in the past four meetings after a 66-63 loss in Tempe earlier this season.
USC wound up with a frustrating Pac-10 road split last week, beating Oregon 66-58 for USC's fourth straight win before having that streak snapped in a 55-54 loss at Oregon State. Against the Ducks, three Women of Troy finished in double figures in the victory, led by 17 points from Nadia Parker -- who had 13 in the second half -- and a double-double from Morghan Medlock with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Kari LaPlante scored 10 for her fourth time in double figures for the Trojans this season. Parker had played only three minutes in the first half thanks to a pair of early fouls, but the center poured in 13 in the second half to finish with her game-high 17 points in 16 minutes. Oregon's 3-point threat helped the Ducks with a response to USC's 45-percent shooting from the floor in the first half. Oregon shot 41 percent out of the gates, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc as USC took a 31-23 lead into halftime. The teams ended up matched at 40 percent shooting overall, and USC led the rebounding game 35-33 while committing a season-low 10 turnovers. Oregon got to within three points during the second half, but the Trojans worked back out ahead and held their lead through a series of free throws on both ends. The teams finished even with 16 free throws made apiece. A controversial timing issue at the end of the game played out in Oregon State's favor two night later, leaving the USC women's basketball team with a 55-54 loss. After closing in to within one in the final minute, USC forced a turnover in the final second. The referees inadvertently whistled the play dead, and gave USC the ball on the sideline with 0.3 seconds on the clock. Allison Jaskowiak sent an arcing pass to Parker in the paint, and Parker pushed the ball over the rim and into the basket, seemingly before the buzzer. The referees, however, waved off the shot, and after reviewing the play on the monitor, upheld the initial call of no basket. USC was led by a game-high 20 points and four blocks from Parker, and got 17 points and seven assists from Camille LeNoir, who scored 16 points in the second half. USC shot just 30 percent and committed eight turnovers in the first half while OSU shot at 38 percent and nailed four 3-pointers to take a 28-18 lead by halftime. In the second half, USC picked things up, shooting 56 percent in the half and pulling to within one several times late in the game. Oregon State remained composed from the stripe, however, going 10-of-10 on free throws in the second half to hold its lead, finishing 84 percent on 16-of-19 free-throw shooting in the game. USC was 6-of-11 (55 percent) on free throws in the game, and wound up matched 33-33 on the boards with the Beavers. The Trojans also committed 15 turnovers to the Beavers' 13.
USC expects to have all active players available this week. In addition to the loss of redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and true freshman Stephanie Gilbreath following offseason knee surgeries, sophomore guard Aarika Hughes had been sidelined indefinitely by a foot injury as of Jan. 21, but she returned on Feb. 23 vs. OSU. 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. USC was without Heather Oliver against OSU on Feb. 23 after the sophomore suffered a concussion at Oregon on Feb. 21, but she is expected to return this week.
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 36 threes this season, Cameron stands all alone in the No. 3 all-time slot with 127 career 3-pointers -- five 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 10.4 points, 4.1 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 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 is in a three-way tie at No. 5 all-time at USC in career threes with 110. Against UCLA on Feb. 17, LeNoir added seven assists to her season tally, pushing her into the all-time top 10 at USC. She has since moved up to now rank No. 9 with 329 career assists (102 this season). She also leads the Pac-10 with her assist/turnover ratio of 1.70.
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 (12.4 ppg) and top rebounder (6.7 rpg). She's hit double figures in 18 of USC's 27 games to date, including a current streak of six straight double-digit outings.
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 4.7 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 also has knocked down 16 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 19 games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.4 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 17 games before a concussion sidelined her for the Feb. 23 game at OSU.
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 (136 pts, 61 asts) and LeNoir (259 pts, 102 asts) is averaging 15.4 points and 6.4 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 5.0 points, 2.6 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 three more double-figure outings, LaPlante now averages 4.6 points and 2.7 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 12.2 this year. Hughes upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she averages 5.7 ppg and has nailed 17 threes. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 6.5 ppg and 5.3 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 eight 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.
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