USC Women Await Washington and WSU This Week
Jan. 20, 2009
USC is back on home turf this week after a three-game stretch on the road. The Women of Troy (9-7, 3-2 Pac-10) welcome the Washington schools to the Galen Center this week, opening with a 7 p.m. game against Washington (5-10, 1-4) on Thursday (Jan. 22). The Trojans then face Washington State (8-8, 1-4) at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 24).
This week's games will be broadcast live through Trojans All-Access at usctrojans.com with live video along with audio provided by Pete Arbogast and Jon Horn. Live stats through GameTracker also will be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls this week. Washington and WSU also are 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. Dunham suffered a foot injury on Jan. 11 vs. UCLA and was sidelined for both the Arizona and ASU games but is expected to return to competition this week.
USC picked up a Pac-10 road split last week, beating Arizona 77-71 in overtime and falling 83-71 at ASU. The victory at Arizona marked USC's first win in overtime since a double-OT win over Oregon on Jan. 22, 2007. The Trojans had lost their last four overtime games (2006-07 at Cal, 2007-08 at UCSB, 2007-08 at Cal, 2008-09 vs. Duke) until Thursday's win. Freshmen Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral and senior Camille LeNoir had big nights in the victory. Gilbreath recorded the first double-double of her career with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Corral served up half her team-high 16 points during overtime, and LeNoir delivered 14 along with four steals. After an 0-for start to the night, USC picked up the scoring pace and crawled out of an 11-0 hole to lead 42-34 going into halftime. A 50-percent shooting effort helped the Trojan cause in the first-half comeback. But the tables turned again in the second half as the Trojans cooled off considerably and saw the Wildcats spur off on scoring runs. USC was staring at a 10-point hole with 10 minutes left in regulation before managing to close in and tie things in the final minute to force a successful surge in overtime. At ASU, the Sun Devils capitalized on free throws and 3-point shots to pin up an 83-71 win. USC got season-highs from LeNoir (22 points) and Kari LaPlante (12 points) along with 11 from Brynn Cameron in the game, but could not pass up the Sun Devils late in the game. ASU came away shooting hotter from outside the arc than from the floor as a whole, hitting 8-of-15 (.533) from 3-point range on the way to a 45.8 percent overall effort. The Trojans managed a better clip on the day, going 47.5 percent from the floor, but were plagued by foul trouble. Four Women of Troy were carrying four fouls by the final buzzer, though most problematic was Nadia Parker's foul count of two at halftime and four by the 13-minute mark of the second half. Thanks to USC fouls, the Sun Devils cashed in on a 21-of-27 free-throw effort, including 18-of-20 in the second half.
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 and outrebounded opponents in 11 games. In total, USC has outrebounded opponents 658-593 so far, upping its average on the boards to 41.1 per game, led by Aarika Hughes' 6.1 rpg.
BRYNN BRINGS IT
Senior guard Brynn Cameron has hit double digits in three of five Pac-10 games this year and has nailed 16 threes in the past eight games to now average 8.2 points per game. Now 17-of-18 (.944) from the free-throw line on the year, Cameron earned her first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award on Jan. 5 after putting in 13 points in a Pac-10 opening win over Oregon and then dumping in four more 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 20 points in a win over Oregon State. Against the Beavers, Cameron had set a new season high by halftime, going 7-of-8 from the floor (4-of-5 from 3-point range) to hold 18 points after the first half. She currently ranks No. 2 all-time in career 3-pointers with 154 to trail leader Shay Murphy's 181.
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 that 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. 16 all-time slot in career scoring, now holding 1,167 points to sit just 2 points away from the No. 15 position. With three straight double-digit efforts, LeNoir is one of four Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in a team-leading 11.8 ppg. What's more, with five assists against Oregon on Jan. 2, LeNoir passed up Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time career assists list to take over the No. 6 slot for career assists. LeNoir has now served up 395 assists in her time as a Trojan.
Plagued by foot problems through her first two seasons, 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 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, and now averages a team-best 6.1 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 three more last week, Corral has tallied a team-high 31 threes to date, and enters this week averaging 1.9 per game to rank fifth in the Pac-10 just ahead of Cameron at No. 7 with 1.6.
Seniors Brynn Cameron and Camille LeNoir have both battled through season-ending hip surgeries as they now engage in 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, Jacki Gemelos and Aarika Hughes all entered Troy as freshmen in 2006, while Heather Oliver and Daniela Roark 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. Altogether, the USC junior class has combined to score 849 points and accumulated 489 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 second leading scorer to date, averaging 11.6 ppg. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 31 threes so far and is averaging the team's fourth-best scoring mark of 10.1 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.