USC Women Visit Utah For 2008 Wrapup
Dec. 26, 2008
USC's home stretch is interrupted this week with a quick trip to Utah before the New Year arrives. The Women of Troy (6-4) will pay a visit to Utah (4-6) for a Tuesday night game in Salt Lake City. The Trojans take on the Utes at 8 p.m. MT on Dec. 30.
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, will be available online for Tuesday's game through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com. The game will also be televised regionally by the Mtn. network.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls this week. Utah also is unranked.
USC will be without two McDonald's All-Americans once again following season-ending knee injuries sustained by both Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath. Nadia Parker (traffic accident) and Hailey Dunham (hand) missed the first two games, but both returned to full competition on Nov. 24.
USC came away with an impressive split at the Women of Troy Classic held Dec. 19-20 at the Galen Center. The Trojans opened against No. 8-ranked Duke, going to overtime against the Blue Devils before falling in an eventual 97-89 decision. USC had led the top-10 Duke squad by as much as 17 during the second half, but the Blue Devils upped their pressure late and forced overtime. Brynn Cameron nailed four 3-pointers to join Ashley Corral as USC's scoring leaders with 16 points apiece, while Duke was led by 22 from Chante Black and Jasmine Thomas. The next day, USC set new season highs in a 95-74 win over Harvard, shooting a high mark of 54.2 percent from the floor. Named to the All-Tournament Team, freshman Briana Gilbreath had set a new career high for herself by halftime, holding 17 of her final 22 points thanks to a 7-of-8 effort from the floor in the first half. Meanwhile, Ashley Corral, Hailey Dunham and Camille LeNoir served up a flashy 18 combined assists in the game. Corral's seven dishes and Dunham's six set a new career high for both players, helping the Trojans hit a season-high mark of 28 total assists in the game. Joining Gilbreath in double figures for USC where LeNoir and Nadia Parker with 14 apiece and Heather Oliver with 12. Harvard was led by 16-point outings from Emma Markley and Emily Tay. USC knocked down six 3-pointers and outpaced the Crimson with a 57-percent shooting effort from the floor to hold a 55-36 lead by halftime.
The Utes are 4-6 overall after taking two losses before the holiday, losing 65-63 at Weber State and falling 64-51 to Mississippi State. Morgan Warburton leads Utah with 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Elaine Elliott is in her 26th year as head coach at Utah. The Utes return nine letterwinners and three starters from last season's team, which went 27-5 overall, winning the Mountain West and reaching the NCAA First Round. USC is 5-2 all-time against Utah, last recording a 62-45 win over the Utes in a nonconference match at the Galen Center last year.
BIG ON THE BOARDS
After averaging 36.3 rebounds per game last season, USC has been bent on the boards this year. The Trojans have hit a season-high 51 rebounds in two different games to now outrebound their opponents 423-360 so far, upping their average on the boards to 42.3 per game, led by Aarika Hughes' 6.3 rpg.
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. She has since leapfrogged into the No. 18 all-time slot in career scoring, now holding 1,089 points. She is one of four Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in 11.0 ppg. What's more, with seven assists against Montana State, LeNoir took over the No. 7 all-time slot for career assists, now having served up 376 in her time as a Trojan.
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 at the Wolfpack Invitational. 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. She has continued to hold court on the boards, leading the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.
IN THE BOOKS ALREADY
In just her third game as a Trojan, freshman guard Ashley Corral solidified a place for herself in USC history, hitting a program-record six 3-pointers in a single game to help lift USC to a win at Pepperdine on Nov. 24. Teammate and fellow sharpshooter Brynn Cameron was the last to hit six, having done so in 2005. With 23 threes to date, Corral is averaging 2.3 per game to currently rank fifth in the Pac-10.
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.
Each junior has a different story to tell, but all four have found a home at USC. Hailey Dunham (Los Angeles, Calif.), Jacki Gemelos (Stockton, Calif.) and Aarika Hughes (Beaverton Ore.) all entered Troy as freshmen in 2006, while Heather Oliver (Victoria, Australia) and Daniela Roark (Los Altos, Calif.) joined the team last year as transfers. Dunham and Hughes both are playing in their third season for the Trojans; Oliver is settling into her second year of action; and Roark is eligible for competition this year after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. All together, the USC junior class has combined to score 763 points and accumulated 411 rebounds.
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 boasts a solid group of first-year additions to the gameplan. Guard Daniela Roark makes her debut this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. And three true freshmen 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 teams back up with fellow All-American Briana Gilbreath as fast fits in the USC backcourt as freshmen, along with 6-3 freshman forward Michelle Jenkins. Selected to the Women of Troy Classic All-Tournament Team after setting a new career high with 22 points against Harvard, Gilbreath stands as USC's leading scorer to date, averaging 12.5 ppg. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 23 threes so far and is averaging the team's third-best scoring mark of 10.8 ppg.
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.
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.