USC Women Pay A Visit To Pepperdine
Nov. 19, 2008
USC is back in California this week but is still over a week away from its home opener, as the Women of Troy aim to tack up another win with a quick trip to Pepperdine. USC (1-1) will shuttle over to Malibu on Monday (Nov. 24) for a 7 p.m. nonconference clash with the Waves (1-1).
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through GameTracker will be available online through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked, but received votes in the preseason AP Poll.
USC will be without two McDonald's All-Americans once again following season-ending knee injuries sustained by both Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath. Currently center Nadia Parker and guard Hailey Dunham are out indefinitely due to injuries sustained during the preseason.
USC came away with a split on the road last weekend, falling 62-60 to Charlotte and topping Milwaukee 77-65 during the Wolfpack Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. Junior Aarika Hughes earned herself All-Tournament Team honors thanks to a dominating performance on the boards, grabbing her first double-digit rebounding outings of her career with 11 against Charlotte and 13 against Milwaukee. Freshman Ashley Corral led USC with 15 points and Camille LeNoir added 13 in the loss. The next day, LeNoir led the Trojans with 15 and in the process pushed herself into the 1,000-point club, as the senior now holds 1,007 career points. Also punching in double digits in USC's win over Milwaukee were freshmen Briana Gilbreath (14 pts) and Corral (10 pts) and junior Heather Oliver (11 pts).
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Camille LeNoir broke the 1,000-point mark on Nov. 16, 2008 at the Wolfpack Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. Coming into the weekend and the season, LeNoir had recorded 979 points in a USC uniform. With her 13-point performance against Charlotte on Nov. 15, LeNoir was just eight points from the achievement with 992 points. The next day against Milwaukee, LeNoir tacked up 15 points, putting herself over the barrier at 1,007 points, where she is in elite company as one of only 21 Trojans to achieve the 1,000-point feat. Her current 1,007 points ranks her No. 20 all-time in career scoring at USC.
Plagued by foot problems through her first two seasons at USC, junior guard/forward Aarika Hughes stepped up big-time for the Trojans in the first two games of the year. With center Nadia Parker on the sidelines coming back from a traffic accident, Hughes went big on the boards and hauled in her first double-digit rebounding efforts of her career. She had 11 rebounds in game one and followed that with 13 on day two to lead all players on the boards and earn her first All-Tournament team honors of her USC career.
Seniors Brynn Cameron and Camille LeNoir have both battled through season-ending hip surgeries as they now enter their final seasons at Troy along with senior center Nadia Parker. Together, Cameron, LeNoir and Parker stand as the three Women of Troy who have had a taste of the NCAA Tournament. Cameron and LeNoir were freshmen when the Trojans snapped a seven-year absence from the postseason in Mark Trakh's first season at Troy. Parker joined in as a freshman in the 2005-06 season when USC made it back-to-back NCAA appearances. Now all on the same track to graduation, the two guards and center are joined by former walk-on Nicole Berberet as Trakh's senior class of talent and leadership. Cameron, LeNoir and Parker have all garnered All-Pac-10 honors during their USC careers to date.
Added incentive for a strong regular season is the promise of hosting both the Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds at USC's Galen Center. The Galen Center became the new home to the Women of Troy in 2006, and USC has won 22 of 29 games on its home court since then. USC will host the Pac-10 Tournament from March 12-15, and has NCAA First and Second Round games set for March 21 and 23 at the Galen Center.
Six of USC's top seven scorers are back for more this season, including the Trojans' top three point producers Brynn Cameron, Camille LeNoir and Heather Oliver. All told, USC returns those three starters along with Cameron -- who matched LeNoir with 40 threes last year -- sophomore center Kari LaPlante and versatile juniors Hailey Dunham and Aarika Hughes as key contributors from the 2007-08 squad.
USC also boasts a solid group of first-year additions to the gameplan. Guard Daniela Roark will make her debut this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. And three true freshmen will hit the hardwood at Troy as well. Two of those newcomers were teammates as McDonald's All-Americans -- and opponents as first- and second-place finishers in the national 3-point shootout following the game. Three-point champ Ashley Corral will team back up with fellow All-American Briana Gilbreath (younger sister of Stefanie) as fast fits in the USC backcourt as freshmen, along with 6-3 freshman forward Michelle Jenkins.
Until a week before the season began, there were two additional shining Trojan stars set to make their long-awaited debuts at Troy. McDonald's All-Americans Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath came to USC a year apart, but both now remain sidelined by repeat knee injuries. Gilbreath's redshirt freshman season has been stalled by a second tear to her right ACL, and Gemelos will now miss a third consecutive season at USC after tearing her ACL and cartilage in her left knee -- this after back-to-back tears in her right knee kept her off the court for her first two years at Troy.
GOING BIG ABROAD
Freshman Ashley Corral gathered some valuable international experience this summer, winning gold as a starter with Team USA at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championships in Argentina. The Trojan was the United States' top scorer against Puerto Rico, and finished the tournament leading her team in minutes played.
RIGHT ON SCHEDULE
The 2008-09 test begins on the road for the Trojans, with USC's schedule kicking off with a trip to Raleigh, N.C. After a visit to the Wolfpack Invitational to open against Charlotte and then face either North Carolina State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USC returns to California to play Trakh and his staff's former program, Pepperdine. Aside from a trip to Hawai'i for the Women's Seasider Challenge for matchups with Utah Valley and BYU, the bulk of the nonconference stretch will be played on home turf. USC has UC Santa Barbara, Michigan, Montana State and Utah tabbed for visits to Troy and the Women of Troy Basketball Classic bringing Duke, Harvard and Siena to town. The Trojans take on the Blue Devils in a bigtime clash on December 19. After a December 30 tilt with Utah, 2009 marks the start of conference clashes. The Pac-10 has been a battleground for years, and the competition level for the coming season has the makings of yet another full plate for conference squads.
In 2008-09, the Trojans played out 12 games that were decided by five or fewer points. One of those nailbiters turned out to be one of the most exciting wins by the Women of Troy in years, as USC edged No. 2 Stanford 73-72 for its first win over the Cardinal since 2004. Stanford would go on to reach the NCAA championship game, but the Trojans would fall short of the postseason after the injury bug bit again late in the season, taking top scorer and rebounder Parker out of the picture with a knee injury during the final week of the regular season. USC finished 17-13 overall on the year after earning the No. 4 seed into the Pac-10 Tournament with a 10-8 conference mark.