USC Women Play Host To Pac-10 Tournament This Week
March 10, 2009
USC sets up camp on its home turf for this year's Pac-10 Tournament, having secured the No. 6 seed for this season's action taking place at the Galen Center. The sixth-seeded Trojans (15-14) will face No. 3 seed Arizona State (15-3) in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal game on Friday (March 13). A win would push the Women of Troy into a 6 p.m. semifinal on Saturday (March 14), with the conference championship game -- where an automatic NCAA bid is up for grabs -- set for 6 p.m. on Sunday (March 15).
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn and Pete Arbogast, as well as live stats through GameTracker will be available online for all USC games at the Pac-10 Tournament through the women's basketball page at www.usctrojans.com. Live video of all tournament games also is available at www.pac-10.org. The semifinals and final will be televised live by FSN.
Conference champion Stanford (26-4, 17-1) is the top seed into the Pac-10 Tournament for the ninth straight season. Cal (24-5, 15-3) is the No. 2 seed and Arizona State (23-7, 15-3) is the No. 3 seed. UCLA (18-11, 9-9) earned the No. 4 seed thanks to a regular-season win over Cal. Oregon State (19-10, 9-9) picked up the No. 5 seed ahead of No. 6 USC (15-14, 9-9) due to the Beavers' stronger overall record, which served as the tiebreaker between the teams. Coming in behind USC is No. 7 Oregon (9-20, 5-13). Washington State (11-18, 4-14) got the No. 8 seed ahead of No. 9 Arizona (11-18, 4-14) because of the Cougars' sweep of the Wildcats during Pac-10 play. Washington is the No. 10 seed.
IN THE NATION
USC remains unranked in the national polls this week. The Pac-10's three ranked teams are No. 2 Stanford, No. 12 Cal and No. 16 Arizona State.
USC VS. ASU
USC is 47-16 all-time against Arizona State. The Wildcats have claimed the past seven wins over the Trojans, including a tight 72-69 ASU win over USC at the Galen Center last month. USC's last win came in a 58-50 victory on Jan. 6, 2006 at USC. This will be the first time that USC and Arizona State have faced at the Pac-10 Tournament.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
Entering the 2008 Pac-10 Tournament last season, USC was 17-12 overall and earned the No. 4 seed in the tourney with a 10-8 Pac-10 finish and a sweep of UCLA during the regular season to leave the Bruins as the No. 5 seed. A late season-ending injury to center Nadia Parker left the Trojans short-handed in their final stretch, however, and USC lost its first game to the Bruins since 2005, falling 73-52 at HP Pavilion in the quarterfinals to leave USC with a 17-13 overall record on the season.
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. On March 5 at Oregon State, Parker suffered an injury to her right knee, leaving the senior center unavailable for the Pac-10 Tournament.
USC came away from Oregon with a split in its last Pac-10 road trip of the year, losing 61-58 at Oregon State and beating Oregon 94-64. At OSU, USC saw its two leading rebounders sidelined with injuries and came up short of a comeback. USC senior center Nadia Parker got just one minute and two points into the game before going to the sideline with an injury to her right knee. The Trojans soldiered on and shot 40 percent from the floor in the half to stay ahead of OSU's 36 percent. The Beavers cut in closer thanks to a number of trips to the free-throw line, as OSU was 9-of-12 from the line compared to 2-for-2 by USC in the half. OSU picked things up on the boards for the second half and outrebounded the Trojans 17-2 through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Soon after, USC's leading scorer and rebounder to that point, Briana Gilbreath, was sidelined after a knock to the head, leaving the Trojans to struggle further on the boards. OSU led by as much as nine points in the second half, although the Trojans would close to tie things with two minutes to go. Camille LeNoir and Ashley Corral nailed clutch 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but OSU's Talisa Rhea was flawless from the free-throw line and kept crucial padding on the Beavers' lead en route to victory. USC ended the game shooting 40 percent, ahead of OSU's 36 percent, and made no trips to the free-throw line during the second half. After a 21-13 USC rebounding advantage at the half, OSU ended up on top 45-30 by the final buzzer. The Beavers had three finish in double figures led by 18 from Rhea, who was 7-of-8 in free throws. Alex Mitchell had a double-double for the Beavers with 16 points and 10 rebounds. In addition to Oliver's team-high 15, Trojans LeNoir, Gilbreath and Kari LaPlante each had 10. At Oregon on Saturday, USC snapped a three-game losing skid by getting all 12 available Trojans in on the scoring against the Ducks. The Trojans escaped a first-half 5-point deficit and didn't look back as they built up their largest margin of victory this season. A pair of 8-0 scoring spurts by the Trojans helped USC make some room ahead of the Ducks going into halftime. USC had trailed by five midway through the half, but forced 14 turnovers out of the Ducks in the first half, leading 47-30 at halftime. An even hotter second half saw USC drill out a 63-percent scoring outing to finish up shooting a season-high 57 percent on the day. Oregon finished at 35 percent. Of USC's 12 scorers in the game, Heather Oliver led them all for the second straight game, hitting 16 to be followed closely by 15 from Brynn Cameron, 13 from LeNoir and 12 by Gilbreath.
No. 2 in the conference and19th in the nation in scoring, the USC offense is averaging 73.5 points per game entering this week. That's due in large part to a wildly balanced offense in which three different Women of Troy finished the regular season averaging in double digits and five ranked in the Pac-10's top-30 in scoring. Camille LeNoir leads the way with 12.7 ppg, followed by 10.8 from Briana Gilbreath,10.7 from Nadia Parker, 9.0 from Heather Oliver and 8.8 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 finally grab its first road sweep of the season in Washington. 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 entering this week's trip to Oregon: 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 1.4ROAD 6-9 70.3 .405 .329 .722 39.9 14.0 18.4 8.9 4.1leader LeNoir LaPlante Corral Cameron Hughes LeNoir Corral/Gilbreath LaPlante 13.1 .506 .375 1.000 6.2 3.2 1.5 1.1
BRYNN BRINGS IT
Senior guard Brynn Cameron has nailed 14 threes in the past seven games to average 7.9 points per game and is a near-perfect 22-of-23 (.957) 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 175 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 1,346 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 450, including a new 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 149 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 13.7 ppg during Pac-10 play. For her 19-point game vs. UCLA on Feb. 8, LeNoir was named Pac-10 Player of the Week.
Even though her playing career has been cut short by a knee injury, USC senior center Nadia Parker has ensured that she will leave her name in the USC history books. With 31 blocks this season, Parker has moved up to rank No. 8 all-time in career blocked shots. She holds 110 career blocks to go along with 934 career points scored as a Trojan.
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 5.1 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 another hit at OSU, Corral has tallied a team-high 49 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 are now engaged 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 1,089 points and accumulated 612 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 10.8 ppg. Gilbreath also has started every game this season for the Trojans. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 49 threes so far and is averaging the team's fifth-best scoring mark of 8.8 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).