USC Women Get Back To Galen For More Pac-10 Play

Feb. 16, 2010

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THIS WEEK
Home again after three games on the road, the USC women are focused on turning the tide on a losing skid in Pac-10 play as the Trojans set up to host Washington State and Washington this week at the Galen Center. USC had fallen in its past four games since opening up conference play with a powerful 7-1 start. Now 13-10 overall and 7-5 in Pac-10 action, USC will first host Washington (9-14, 4-9) in a 7 p.m. game on Thursday (Feb. 18). Two days later, USC has a televised clash with Washington State (6-18, 1-12) at 8 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 20) at the Galen Center.

FOLLOW ALONG
Thursday's game vs. Washington will be broadcast live through Trojans All-Access at usctrojans.com with live video along with audio provided by Chris Fisher and USC's all-time 3-point leader Brynn Cameron. Saturday's game against WSU will be televised live by Fox Sports with Jim Watson doing play-by-play along with analyst Mary Murphy. Live audio will also be available online through Trojans All-Access with play-by-play by Chris Fisher and color by USC's all-time 3-point leader Brynn Cameron. Live stats through GameTracker for both games also will be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.

IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in this week's national polls. Washington and Washington State also are not ranked.

THINK PINK
A proud supporter of the WBCA's 'Pink Zone' initiative, the USC women's basketball team is all set to promote breast cancer awareness during this Saturday's game against Washington State. Fans are encouraged get in on the action as well by wearing pink to the 8 p.m. game at the Galen Center on Saturday (Feb. 20). Wear pink on Saturday and get in free to the game. Also get ready to catch pink shirts tossed into the crowd during the game. Fans attending Saturday's game also can purchase the Pac-10 4 Pink Package at a discounted price.

JACKI'S BACK
After almost four years on the sidelines with knee injuries, Jacki Gemelos -- a high school All-American and the nation's top recruit as a freshman in 2006 -- took to the court for the first game action of her Trojan career on Feb. 4 at Cal. She got in the game in the first minute of play and played 28 minutes, finishing with eight points, five assists and five rebounds. In USC's next game at Stanford, Gemelos led USC in scoring with 13 points and had six rebounds. Now with three games under her belt, Gemelos is averaging 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for the Trojans. Gemelos is academically a senior with plans to start up graduate study next semester. This week's games marks Gemelos' first-ever game competition at the Galen Center.

SCOUTING WSU
The Cougars are 6-18 overall and 1-12 in Pac-10 play after falling 62-44 to California and 98-67 to No. 2 Stanford last week. April Cook leads WSU in scoring with 14.0 points per game. June Daugherty is in her third season as head coach of the Cougars, who went 11-19 overall and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 4-14 last season. Eight letterwinners return from that team, including three starters. USC is 38-11 all-time against the Cougars, extending its win streak over WSU out to 19 straight with last month's 61-51 win over the Cougars in Pullman.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON
The Huskies are 9-14 overall and 4-9 in Pac-10 play after falling 58-36 to No. 2 Stanford and 75-68 in overtime to California last week. Sami Whitcomb leads UW with 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Tia Jackson is in her third season as head coach of the Huskies, who went 8-22 overall and finished 10th in the Pac-10 at 3-15 last season. Eleven letterwinners return from that team, including four starters. USC is 24-28 all-time against Washington, having won the past four meetings against the Huskies after last month's 69-65 victory in Seattle.

LAST WEEK
USC was outplayed by host UCLA at Pauley Pavilion over the weekend, as a troublesome first half put the Trojans in a hole they couldn't climb out of. UCLA captured a 74-56 win, leaving USC with a four-game losing streak.UCLA was on task to start the game, stymieing the USC offense in the first half to the tune of a 37-18 Bruin lead by halftime. UCLA got off more than double the shots that the Trojans managed as USC committed 14 first-half turnovers. UCLA was 16-of-39 (41.0 percent) from the floor in the half, ahead of USC's 6-of-17 (35.3) effort. USC improved things and took better care of the ball in the second half, but the first-half hole was too great with the Bruins staying in stride with USC down the stretch for the win. USC finished the game shooting 35 percent in the game to UCLA's 45 percent outing. The Bruins dominated the boards 44-29 and had four players in double figures. Markel Walker, Jasmine Dixon and Erica Tukiainen all had a game-high 13 points while USC got three players to finish with 11 points apiece -- Kari LaPlante, Jacki Gemelos and Ashley Corral.

INJURY REPORT
Out for the season with ACL injuries are 2007 McDonald's All-American Stefanie Gilbreath, freshman Vicky Tagalicod, and sophomore Michelle Jenkins, who suffered her season-ending knee injury (left ACL) on Nov. 19 vs. Gonzaga.McDonald's All-American Jacki Gemelos returned to game competition for the first time in her USC career on Feb. 4 after the 2006 top recruit had been sidelined for the past three complete seasons with knee injuries.

NO BACKING DOWN
USC's opening run at the 2009-10 season has been an impressively competitive stretch. The Trojans played six straight games on the road and faced four different ranked teams during USC's first eight games of the year. En route to a current 12-6 overall mark, USC has served up upset wins over ranked Texas, Mississippi State and Arizona State, while falling to ranked Xavier in overtime, ranked Duke after leading for most of the game in Durham and most recently to No. 2 Stanford. USC's other losses on the year have come in road games vs. Gonzaga and Rutgers and a tough loss at home to NC State. In total, eight of USC's first nine opponents played in last year's NCAA Tournament, and the Trojans have posted three wins over ranked teams to date -- all on the road. Thanks to a five-game win streak during Pac-10 play, USC matched its best Pac-10 start since the 2004-05 season with a 7-2 run through the first half of conference action.

COMEBACK KIDS
USC's five-game win streak was pieced together primarily through come-from-behind victories. The Trojans trailed at halftime in five straight Pac-10 games, but only No. 2 Stanford was able to sidestep a victorious second-half comeback effort by the Women of Troy. In four straight comeback wins, USC outscored opponents Cal, UCLA, Washington and Washington State -- 152-109 in the second half, thanks to a combined 47 percent second-half shooting effort. During the second half, USC trailed by as much as 10 to Cal, 7 to UCLA, 9 at Washington and 6 at Washington State before rallying back to wins down the stretch. USC's win over Oregon State made it five straight wins for the Trojans, but marked the first time in six games that USC was in the lead through the entire game.

WINS AND SEA
USC had a largely successful run at the competitive Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving, as the Trojans took second place in the Reef Division with a 2-1 record after upending two ranked opponents. USC opened with a 66-51 Thanksgiving Day loss to Rutgers before bouncing back for a pair of big upsets as the Trojans shocked No. 13 Texas 61-54 and then topped No. 19 Mississippi State 64-60. Poor shooting plagued the Trojans in their loss to Rutgers as USC shot a season-low 25 percent from the floor. Ashley Corral had a game-high 24 points for the Women of Troy, but USC could not keep pace offensively with Rutgers in the losing effort, despite a perfect 12-for-12 outing from the free-throw line. The next day, however, the Trojans put together a balanced game with a much improved shooting output as USC stayed ahead of No. 13 Texas by shooting 46 percent from the floor and getting four players in double figures. Briana Gilbreath led USC with 13 points while Aarika Hughes and Kari LaPlante each had 12. Meanwhile, Corral served up a career-high eight assists and nine rebounds. For USC's third game in three days and sixth straight game against a 2009 NCAA Tournament team, the Trojans faced No. 19 Mississippi State and got another impressive win. Thanks in part to clutch free throws late in the game from Gilbreath and Corral along with a career-high 14 points from Hughes on 6-of-8 shooting, USC dealt MSU a 64-60 blow that boosted the Trojans to a 3-3 overall record.

OPENING WEEKEND
USC turned some heads in its opening weekend of play, as the Trojans took No. 11 Xavier to overtime in USC's season opener at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy recovered from an eight-point halftime deficit to rally back and force overtime against the Musketeers. Size advantage came through in overtime for Xavier, however, with the Musketeers pulling through for an 81-71 win. Sophomore point guard Ashley Corral led the way for USC with a career-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Two days later, USC went up against another tournament team in Fresno State. Again, USC trailed at halftime -- this time by three points -- and even fell behind by seven in the second half before generating a comeback to win. USC held the Bulldogs scoreless for almost six minutes to take back the lead, and a late-game steal from Briana Gilbreath helped the sophomore to a team-high 17 points while also helping clinch a 68-63 win for USC -- head coach Michael Cooper's first collegiate coaching victory. Corral added a career-high seven assists in the win over Fresno State.

CORRAL'S BREAKTHROUGH
Sophomore point guard Ashley Corral has been busy this season. She averages 36.4 minutes per game, and has been using that time to the max. Early this year, Corral broke the USC all-time record of single-game 3-pointers by nailing seven on the road vs. Duke, while also setting new career highs for herself with 27 points (at Arizona), 11 rebounds (at Long Beach State), 9 assists (at Duke), 5 steals (at Gonzaga) while going a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line (at Gonzaga), and shooting 60 percent (9-of-15) vs. Xavier. Entering this week, she leads the Pac-10 with 4.7 assists per game [No. 58 in the nation], is second in the conference with 2.7 threes per game [No. 29 in the nation], is No. 5 in free throws with an .845 average (71-of-84) [No. 46 in the nation], and is seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring with 15.9 points per game [No. 104 in the nation]. She's also made a home in the USC all-time top-10 for career 3-pointers, ranking No. 5 all-time with 115 career threes to date. She also holds the fourth-best single-season 3-point tally at USC with 61 this season so far.

BRI'S TOP BLOCKS
Briana Gilbreath served up a career-high six blocks in USC's win over Long Beach State and has continued to deliver stuffs on defense. She had nine blocks in two games against OSU and Oregon, helping to push the sophomore to the No. 3 slot on the Pac-10 charts on the year entering the week with 39 blocks and an average of 1.7 blocks per game. That's also good enough to rank Gilbreath 65th in the nation in blocks.

SUPER SOPHS
Youth reigned supreme for the Trojans in their first weekend of play, led by the All-American sophomore tandem of Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral. Corral had back-to-back new career highs, topping out with 25 points against No. 11 Xavier and then serving up seven assists against Fresno State. Gilbreath pushed through with 19 points in the opener and then 17 points to lead the Trojans in game two. Corral has continued to raise the bar for herself in big games, as she picked up Paradise Jam Reef Division All-Tournament Team honors after 23 points vs. Rutgers and career-high rebounding and assists marks in USC's wins over No. 13 Texas and No. 19 Mississippi State. The pair is still dominating the top of the Trojan stats ladders as USC's two top scorers. Corral is averaging 15.9 points per game, and Gilbreath is next with 13.4. Each has scored in doubles figures in 17 games apiece.

OLLIE GRINDS OUT BIG SHOTS
Senior guard Heather Oliver has proven a comeback kid for the Trojans, nailing clutch 3-pointers to key Pac-10 road wins at No. 17 Arizona State and at Arizona. In the Jan. 1 upset of ASU, Oliver nailed 4 threes in under 7 minutes to get USC ahead after trailing by nine with 5 minutes left and on to a 60-56 upset win over the Sun Devils -- USC's first win in Tempe since the 2001-02 season. Oliver finished second on the team in scoring with 14 points in that one, and was second again two days later with 19 points in an overtime win at Arizona. Oliver again knocked down huge 3-pointers for USC as the Trojans came back from a 13-point deficit to bring up an overtime push. Oliver's 19 points all came in the second half and overtime. She hit her four 3-pointers in a span of eight minutes -- the first coming with 7:05 to go in regulation, and the fourth drained in overtime. Oliver had seven points in OT to help USC to an 81-78 road win over the Wildcats. She's fourth on the team in scoring with 7.7 ppg, and ranks No. 6 all-time at USC in career threes with 111 to date. Oliver also stands out as USC's sharpest shooter from beyond the arc, holding a 38.5% mark from 3-point land so far in her USC career. Her current season mark of .396 is the fourth best in the conference to date, and she averages 1.6 threes per game.

PAC-10 COMES HOME
As in 2009, postseason play kicks off on USC's home court. At the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center, the Trojans served up a quarterfinal upset of then-No. 16 Arizona State before taking down No. 12 California in the semifinals. The Trojans turned a lot of heads with their late push during the conference tourney, and they'll have a chance to take the tournament by storm once again with the 2010 Pac-10 Tournament coming back to the Galen Center from March 11-14.

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