USC Women Look For Upsets In Pac-10 Home Games
Feb. 24, 2009
USC gets back to the Galen Center this weekend for the Trojans' final regular-season games at home. The Trojans will be hosting the coming Pac-10 Tournament and NCAA First and Second Rounds here at the Galen Center, so this weekend marks an important push toward the postseason for the Women of Troy as they host two top-10 teams who sit atop the Pac-10 standings. First up for USC (14-11, 8-6 Pac-10) is No. 4 California (22-3, 13-1), which comes to the Galen Center for a 7 p.m. game on Friday (Feb. 27). Next, the Trojans host another Pac-10 power in No. 2 Stanford (22-4, 13-1) at 12 p.m. on Sunday (March 1).
Both 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 for both games.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls this week. California is ranked No. 4 in both polls, and Stanford is No. 2 according to ESPN/USA Today and is No. 3 in the AP poll.
USC is 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 four games, returning at Cal on Jan. 31. Parker sat out the Jan. 24 game vs. WSU with an ankle injury.
USC completed an important road sweep last weekend with a 68-57 win at Washington State and a 77-53 win over host Washington. At WSU, the Trojans found their groove down the stretch to pull away late in the game. Led by 15 points from Camille LeNoir and a double-double from Nadia Parker, USC got the job done and snapped a two-game losing skid for the Women of Troy. Both teams came out of the gates shooting 43 percent apiece in the first half, and each knocked down five 3-pointers during the half. As the teams settled into the second half, it was a cooler outing everywhere but the free-throw line for the Trojans. USC hit three more 3-pointers but took several more trips to the line. WSU closed in to hold within one of the Trojans until the 1:29 mark when Oliver free throws were followed by a crucial 3-point blast from Cameron to push USC out ahead to stay. USC finished the game shooting 30 percent from the floor, compared to 35 percent from WSU. Washington State won out on the boards 45-43, but USC got a clutch double-double from Parker with 10 points and 11 rebounds. LeNoir and Parker were joined in double figures by Oliver with 10. At Washington, three Women of Troy wound up in double figures on the day, led by 13 points from Cameron along with 12 from Parker and 11 from Gilbreath. The USC defense held Washington to a 24-percent shooting effort in the first half, while the Trojans hit at a 35-percent effort from the floor. In the second, USC upped its shooting to 50 percent to finish out the game at a 43-percent clip. Washington closed down at just under 30 percent from the floor and had no players finish in double digits aside from 10 rebounds from Christina Rozier.
The Bears are 22-3 overall and 13-1 in Pac-10 play after beating Oregon 84-42 and Oregon State 62-40 last week. Ashley Walker leads Cal with 20.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Joanne Boyle is in her fourth season as head coach at Cal. The Bears return nine letterwinners and five starters from last year's team, which went 27-7 overall and finished second in the Pac-10 at 15-3. USC is 31-20 all-time against the Bears, having lost the past seven games including two overtime losses. The past four games have been decided either in overtime or by five or fewer points, with Cal getting a last-second score last month to beat USC 73-71 in Berkeley.
The Cardinal is 22-4 overall and 13-1 in Pac-10 play after beating Oregon State 72-43 and Oregon 68-49 last week. Stanford has won nine straight games entering this week's competition. Jayne Appel leads Stanford with 15.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Tara VanDerveer is in her 23rd season as head coach at Stanford. The Cardinal return 11 letterwinners and four starters from last year's team, which won the Pac-10 Tournament and reached the NCAA final to finish 35-4 overall and was 16-2 in Pac-10 play. USC is 19-41 all-time against the Cardinal after getting a split last season to snap a 10-game losing streak to Stanford. USC beat Stanford 73-72 at the Galen Center and then lost 77-51 in Palo Alto last year, and fell 81-53 last month in Pac-10 play.
No. 2 in the conference and 21st in the nation in scoring, the USC offense is now averaging 73.6 points per game. That's due in large part to a wildly balanced offense in which three different Women of Troy are averaging in double digits and four rank in the Pac-10's top-25 in scoring. Camille LeNoir leads the way with 12.6 ppg, followed closely by 11.3 from Briana Gilbreath, 10.8 from Nadia Parker and 9.2 from Ashley Corral.
HOME AND AWAY
The Galen Center has largely been good to the Trojans. The numbers USC puts up on its home court this season have been markedly stronger than their road production almost across the board, although USC did finalyl grab its first road sweep of the season last weekend. The road warrior of note has been Camille LeNoir, who has made a habit of carrying her Trojans on the road by providing 20 percent of their road scoring. Consider the differences:
Record PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG TOPG SPG BPGHOME 9-3 78.2 .418 .343 .670 39.7 16.9 18.5 12.3 3.6leader Parker/Gilbreath Parker LeNoir Corral Parker LeNoir Gilbreath Parker 12.2 .566 .455 .846 5.8 4.2 2.3 1.5AWAY 4-5 70.9 .392 .322 .703 41.0 13.1 18.0 8.3 4.8leader LeNoir LaPlante Oliver Corral/Cameron Gilbreath LeNoir Gilbreath Parker 14.3 .480 .417 1.000 6.7 3.1 1.8 1.3
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 13 games. In total, USC has outrebounded opponents 1012-987 so far, upping its average on the boards to 40.5 per game, led by a group of Trojans: Nadia Parker with 6.0, Aarika Hughes with 5.7 and Briana Gilbreath with 5.6.
BRYNN BRINGS IT
Senior guard Brynn Cameron has hit double digits in six Pac-10 games this year and nailed 31 threes in the past 17 games to average 8.1 points per game. Now 18-of-19 (.947) 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 169 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. Thanks to a 28-point effort across the two games, LeNoir moved into the history books by the weekend's close. She has joined elite company as one of only 21 Trojans to achieve the 1,000-point feat, and continues to shoot up in the all-time ladders at Troy. She has since leapfrogged into the No. 13 all-time slot in career scoring, now holding 1,294 points. 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. Three more on Thursday pushed her past another USC great -- Cheryl Miller. She now stands alone at No. 3 with 430 after 10 assists last weekend. She also already has taken up residence as USC's No. 3 all-time 3-point shooter, just behind teammate Brynn Cameron, with 142 career threes. LeNoir is one of three Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in a team-leading 12.6 ppg overall, and she's averaging 13.9 ppg during Pac-10 play. For her 19-point game vs. UCLA on Feb. 8, LeNoir was named Pac-10 Player of the Week.
USC senior center Nadia Parker has ensured that she will leave her name in the USC history books. Now with 30 blocks this season, Parker has moved up to rank No. 8 all-time in career blocked shots. She holds 109 career blocks, and is also within reach of the 1,000-point club as she has scored 906 career points to date.
Plagued by foot problems through her first two seasons, junior guard/forward and captain 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 is second on the team with 5.7 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 another hit at Washington, Corral has tallied a team-high 44 threes to date -- the seventh-most in USC single-season history -- and enters the week averaging 1.8 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, and guards Cameron and LeNoir now hold down the No. 2 and 3 slots all-time in career 3-pointers.
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 994 points and accumulated 583 rebounds in its collective USC career.
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 11.3 ppg. Gilbreath also has started every game this season for the Trojans. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 44 threes so far and is averaging the team's fourth-best scoring mark of 9.2 ppg.
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 gone 31-10 on its home court (9-3 this season) 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.
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.