USC Women Close Down Regular Season On The Road
March 3, 2009
USC's last Pac-10 road trip of the year is ahead for the Women of Troy this week. The Trojans (14-13, 8-8 Pac-10) will first visit Oregon State (17-10, 7-9) for a 7 p.m. game on Thursday (March 5) in Corvallis. Then, USC will head to Eugene to take on Oregon (9-18, 5-11) in a 12:30 game on Saturday (March 7). The games mark the final push toward a solid seeding at the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament, to be held at USC's own Galen Center from March 12-15.
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through GameTracker will be available online for both games through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls this week. Oregon State and Oregon also are unranked.
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 held tight to the Pac-10's two top-five teams last week, only to wind up short of upsets to No. 4 California and No. 2 Stanford. Once again, the Trojans took the Bears down to the wire, but Cal won out 66-64 in the end. USC out-shot Cal down the stretch in a 45-percent shooting night compared to a 39-percent effort by the Bears. But Cal won out with trips to the free-throw line, and held off a late-game push by the Trojans, although USC closed to within one with a minute to go. USC had three players finish in doubles figures, with 13 from Nadia Parker, 12 from Camille LeNoir and 10 from Hailey Dunham, while Cal got a game-high 22 from Alexis Gray-Lawson. Cal's Gray-Lawson was 4-for-4 from 3-point range out of the gates for the Bears and had 16 points by halftime, but USC countered Cal's heat from outside the arc with a more effective outing from the floor in the half. USC was shooting 44 percent and took a late one-point lead into halftime, while Cal hit six threes but was 31 percent from the floor. USC was effective in keeping Cal's dangerous posts from doing much damage, holding Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton to just eight points combined form the floor. But Walker got to double figures thanks to a pile of trips to the free-throw line. Cal took 29 free throws in the game, compared to 11 by the Trojans. The Bears finished the game shooting 39 percent from the floor and was 19-of-29 from the free-throw line. USC shot 45 percent from the floor and hit 10-of-11 free throws. On Sunday, USC saw No. 2 Stanford pull away after six ties scores and six lead changes to take a 85-74 Cardinal win. After holding two points and six assists at halftime, LeNoir wound up with a team-high 17 points and nine assists to lead the Women of Troy. USC and Stanford were neck-and-neck during much of the first half, trading the lead six times with five tie-ups. The Cardinal slipped ahead late in the half on some scores in the paint, getting Stanford a 41-36 lead by halftime with the Cardinal shooting 52 percent and USC at 48 percent. As the second half got underway, the Trojans forced their way into an early tie before Stanford's offense heated up to 68 percent in the half. And while USC closed from down 14 to make it an eight-point game entering the final minute, Stanford pulled ahead and pocketed the win behind 20 points from Kayla Pedersen and Jayne Appel. LeNoir was joined in double figures by Parker with 15 points and 12 from Heather Oliver.
The Beavers are 17-10 and 7-9 in Pac-10 play after beating Oregon 70-41 last week. Brittany Davis and Talisa Rhea lead OSU in scoring with 14.1 a,d 13.9 ppg, respectively. LaVonda Wagner is in her fourth season as head coach at OSU. The Beavers return eight letterwinners and four starters from last year's team, which went 12-19 overall and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 4-14. USC is 33-17 all-time against Oregon State. The team split games last season, with USC winning 59-47 at the Galen Center, and OSU getting a 55-54 win in Corvallis. USC won this year's first meeting in a 78-54 victory in Los Angeles.
The Ducks are 9-18 overall and 5-11 in Pac-10 play after falling 70-41 to Oregon State last week. Micaela Cox leads Oregon in scoring with 13.4 points per game. Bev Smith is in her eighth season as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks return eight letterwinners and three starters from last year's team, which went 14-17 overall and finished seventh in the Pac-10 at 7-11. USC is 34-16 all-time against Oregon after two wins last season, a 46-42 home victory and a 67-58 win in Eugene. USC won this year's first meeting in a 66-56 win in Los Angeles.
No. 2 in the conference and 20th in the nation in scoring, the USC offense is averaging 73.3 points per game entering the week. That's due in large part to a wildly balanced offense in which three different Women of Troy are averaging in double digits and five rank in the Pac-10's top-30 in scoring. Camille LeNoir leads the way with 12.7 ppg, followed closely by 11.1 from Nadia Parker, 10.8 from Briana Gilbreath,8.9 from Ashley Corral and 8.5 from Heather Oliver.
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 finally 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 9-5 76.9 .421 .352 .676 37.9 16.4 18.9 12.1 3.6leader Parker Parker LeNoir Oliver Gilbreath LeNoir Gilbreath Parker 12.5 .555 .475 .842 5.5 4.4 2.1 1.4AWAY 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
BRYNN BRINGS IT
Senior guard Brynn Cameron has nailed 11 threes in the past five games to average 7.9 points per game and is a near-perfect 20-of-21 (.952) from the free-throw line on the year. On Jan. 5, Cameron earned her first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award 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 172 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 1,323 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, and she later also pushed past another USC great -- Cheryl Miller. She now stands alone at No. 3 with 442 after a career-high 9 assists vs. Stanford. She also already has taken up residence as USC's No. 3 all-time 3-point shooter, just behind teammate Brynn Cameron, with 146 career threes. LeNoir is one of three Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in a team-leading 12.7 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 31 blocks this season, Parker has moved up to rank No. 8 all-time in career blocked shots. She holds 110 career blocks, and is also within reach of the 1,000-point club as she has scored 934 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 third on the team with 5.3 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 another hit against Stanford, Corral has tallied a team-high 46 threes to date -- the seventh-most in USC single-season history -- and entered the week averaging 1.7 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 1,036 points and accumulated 593 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 third leading scorer to date, averaging 110.8 ppg. Gilbreath also has started every game this season for the Trojans. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 46 threes so far and is averaging the team's fourth-best scoring mark of 8.9 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 31-12 on its home court (9-5 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.
TWO MORE NEW TROJANS NAMED MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS
In what seems to have become a trend of USC head coach Mark Trakh's recruiting classes, two more Trojan newcomers have been tabbed McDonald's High School All-Americans. Both forward Christina Marinacci and center Monique Oliver were recently named to the elite list of top high school seniors, and their trips to Troy next season will bump the USC talent pool up to a whopping six McDonald's All-Americans on the roster.
Marinacci - a 6-2 forward out of Santa Ana's Foothill High School - will team up early on the McDonald's All-American West squad with 6-2 center Oliver, who hails from Long Beach Poly. The two talented post players are all set to join the Trojan roster for the coming 2009-10 season, where four other McDonald's All-Americans await their new teammates. Guards Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath both earned All-American honors before being sidelined by ACL injuries coming into USC. Current freshmen guards Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath are already impact players for the Trojans, as Corral leads USC's 3-point shooting charge and Briana Gilbreath is USC's third leading scorer.
'That puts us in the top-10 among all Division I schools with six McDonald's All-Americans next year,' Trakh pointed out. 'Hopefully we'll get them all playing at the same time. It will be great to have all six going next season.'
Joining Marinacci and Oliver as new USC signees are Kendall Hackney (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) and Vicky Tagalicod (Honolulu, Hawai'i/Hilo HS).