Women of Troy Host UCSB, St. Joseph's

Nov. 22, 2000

The Facts
After enduring two disappointing road losses against Creighton and Drake to begin the season, USC women's basketball (0-2) returns home to hopefully clean the slate. The Women of Troy open the home schedule against UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the Trojans welcome St. Joseph's at 2 p.m. Both games will be played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

USC, under fourth-year head coach Chris Gobrecht, returns nine letterwinners from a team that posted its first winning record and made its first postseason appearance in three years. Returning All-Pac-10 selections Tiffany Elmore and Tashara Carter will lead a Women of Troy squad that includes a top 20 incoming freshman class.

Game #1 - at Creighton (Nov. 17)
To begin the season, USC suffered a 69-58 loss against Creighton on Friday (Nov. 17). In a game muddled with fouls and team turnovers, the Women of Troy sent Creighton to the line 37 times where the Bluejays shot 67.6 percent (25-37). USC received 18 free throw opportunities and sank 11. From the field, the Trojans converted 22-of-61 shot attempts (36.1), while Creighton hit 21-of-49 (42.9). Creighton led by as much as nine points at the start of the game, and it was not until 2:55 remained in the first half that the Women of Troy would earn their first lead (27-25). USC increased the gap to four (32-28), but the Bluejays returned to tie the score with no time left. The teams entered the break tied at 32 apiece. To begin the second half, Creighton went on a 22-7 run and never looked back. Jessica Cheeks posted team-highs in points (10), rebounds (7) and assists (4). Creighton's Angela Timmons poured in 30 points for the Bluejays, including 17-of-21 at the line (the senior alone attempted more free throws than USC).

Game #2 - at Drake (Nov. 19)
In a closely contested match-up, the Trojans fell to Drake, 55-51, at the Drake Knapp Center on Sunday (Nov. 19). The Bulldogs took a quick lead in the game hitting their first three field goals and increasing their advantage to seven points (22-15) with 5:08 remaining. USC returned with a 8-2 run of its own, led by Lauren Smith Hams' consecutive field goals. The Women of Troy entered the break down by just one point, 24-23. USC took its first lead (30-29) in the second half following a shot by guard Tiffany Elmore at 16:36. To regain the advantage, Drake was sent to the line five times, making nine consecutive free throws to regain the lead, 48-43. In a last minute effort, USC pulled within two (53-51) with 0:11 on the clock after Elmore was fouled on a three point attempt and sank two. The Women of Troy shot 31.9 percent in the game and forced 19 Bulldog turnovers. Drake out-rebounded the Trojans in the final stats, 47 to 41, and shot 34.6 for the afternoon. Elmore led the Women of Troy with 11 points, while freshman Ebony Hoffman collected 11 boards in the contest.

USC In The Polls
In the national preseason polls, the Women of Troy were ranked No. 21 according to WOMENSCOLLEGEHOOPS.com, and No. 24 according to the Women's Basketball Journal, and received mention in numerous others.

Season Openers
USC is 21-4 all-time in season openers ... 6-4 on the road, 10-0 at home and 5-0 at neutral sites. The Trojans are 22-2 all-time in home season openers.

Forward Tennille Grant recorded a career-high on consecutive nights with eight points against Creighton (Nov. 17) and Drake (Nov. 19).

What They're Saying About USC Basketball
'Coach Chris Gobrecht is still working to rebuild the USC program, and the addition of Ebony Hoffman is definitely a step in the right direction. Hoffman, a 6-2 power forward... will be a candidate for national freshman of the year honors.'
- Women's Basketball Journal

'Last year's athletic underdogs pulled their share of upsets and are now joined by perhaps the best incoming freshman in the country in Hoffman. Coach Gobrecht has made steady progress in her first three years, so look for the Trojans to surge in her fourth... a legitimate Pac-10 threat.

'From 7-17 in 98-99 to 16-14 in 99-00 to 20+ wins and the NCAA's in 00-01... We would say that fits the profile of `going up.'

'Coach Chris Gobrecht has got it going on in L.A., with a big-time recruiting class and plenty of returning talent. In addition, the Trojans are due for a year without injuries, which have plagued them for the last few seasons. The Pac-10 isn't exactly the SEC, either, so if USC can find a point guard, there's room for Gobrecht and company to elbow their way into the Top 25.'
- Street & Smith's College Basketball

'My top five freshmen of influence... Diana Taurasi (UConn), Shereka Wright (Purdue), Ashley Robinson (Tennessee), Iciss Tillis (Duke) and Ebony Hoffman (Southern California).'
- Nancy Lierberman-Cline, USA Today

The Three-Year Vet
Senior Tashara Carter enters the 2000-2001 season as the team's lone three-year veteran of the program, and the only player to play under Coach Gobrecht all three years. A recruit of former USC head coach Fred Williams, Carter endured the first years of instability and transition as the 1998-99 squad posted a 7-20 overall record and finished tied for ninth in the Pac-10. In three years, Carter has played in all 84 games and only missed four starts, helping guide the Women of Troy back to nation prominence.

Mitchell Paid Her Dues
Redshirt freshman Portia Mitchell is back in the lineup much to everyone's delight. A highly touted 1999 recruit out of Narbonne High, Mitchell sat out during the 1999-2000 season after not meeting conditioning requirements. So a year of relentless training has paid-off for the 6-4 center after she proudly met her qualifying times (1 1/2 miles in under 13 minutes) in early September and began practicing with the team on Oct. 14.

Among The Nation's Best
The 2000-2001 freshman class was ranked as high as No. 14 by the Women's Basketball Journal and No. 16 by Athlon. In USA Today, Nancy Lieberman Cline named Ebony Hoffman as one of her top five freshmen of influence. Hoffman was ranked the No. 2 prep recruit of 2000 by USA Today and the Women's Basketball Journal. Guard Aisha Hollans was ranked 21st by the All-Star Girl's Report and the Women's Basketball Journal. The freshman class also includes 5-foot-7 guard Ryane Alexander.

The freshman class only becomes stronger by adding two of 1999-2000's high school recruits. Center Portia Mitchell enters first season as an active player at USC after sitting out last year, and guard Jessica Cheeks also enters her first season after taking junior college courses in 1999-2000. Together, they were originally part of the top-10 recruiting class of 1999 (No. 8 by Athlon and No. 9 by the Women's Basketball Journal).

Last Season In The Stats
For the second consecutive year, USC topped the Pac-10 in turnover margin, forcing an average of 2.5 more opponent turnovers per game... Junior Tiffany Elmore finished ninth in the Pac-10 with a 76.4 free throw percentage... Senior Denise Woods narrowly missed out on making the Pac-10's top 10 list for field goal percentage (.462) and finished third in blocks (1.47 bpg)... USC out-rebounded its opponent by nearly two boards per game last season and finished second in the conference with 16.2 offensive rebounds per outing... In conference play, the Trojans finished second in steals (10.67 spg)... Strangely enough, USC and its opponents averaged the exact amount of points throughout the season - 66.6 ppg.

USC Plans construction of Events Center
On October 21, USC announced plans to begin construction of a multipurpose on-campus events center that will be home to USC basketball and volleyball. Construction is to begin by January 2001 and it is expected that the 12,000-seat arena will be officially completed by 2002. The facility will be located on the southeast corner of Jefferson Blvd. and Figueroa Street, adjacent to the University Park Campus.

Injury Report
Sophomore Camille Norwood may play limited minutes this week. Norwood underwent ACL surgery on her right knee this summer and re-injured the ligament during early-season conditioning. Since then, she has been cleared to play and is still undergoing treatment. Freshman Aisha Hollans is sidelined while rehabbing a lower back injury. Hollans is expected to begin practicing in the coming week.

Head Coach Chris Gobrecht
Chris Gobrecht enters her fourth season at the helm of the USC women's basketball program. Replacing former head coach Fred Williams on May 8, 1997, Gobrecht returned to her alma mater to help guide the Women of Troy back to national prominence. Throughout 22 years of head coaching experience, Gobrecht has amassed a 367-254 (.591) career record with her programs at Cal State Fullerton (six years), Washington (11), Florida State (one) and USC. During her 11-year tenure at Washington, she was twice named Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1987 and 1988). Gobrecht remains the second-winningest coach in conference history with a 162-84 (.659) mark, and she ranks 37th among active Division I coaches with 367 career victories.

This Week's Opponents

UC Santa Barbara (1-1)
The then-ranked No. 25 Gauchos defeated Louisville, 78-67, on Friday (Nov. 17) in their season opener and advanced to the championship game of the Time Warner Cable Classic ... Guard Jess Hansen led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three, 3-pointers ... UCSB fell to Nebraska in the final tournament game, 61-69 ... With 22 points against the Huskers, forward Kayte Christensen was named to the all-tournament team ... Last season the Gauchos received a final No. 9 national ranking after advancing to the NCAA West Regional ... UCSB finished first in the Big West (15-0) and posted a 30-4 overall record ... The team returns six letterwinners and three starters ... Head coach Mark French enters his 14th season at UCSB and boasts a 258-130 overall record.

USC-UC Santa Barbara Series Record
USC and UCSB will meet for the 20th time in program history. The Gauchos own a 11-8 advantage in the series and have won the last three meetings. Last season, USC was routed at Santa Barbara, 77-53. The two teams have met once in USC's home opener. On Dec. 3, 1994, the Women of Troy defeated the Gauchos, 75-71.

St. Joseph's (1-0)
The Hawks are coming off a season-opening win over Pennsylvania, 81-75, on Nov. 18 ... On Friday (Nov. 24), St. Joseph's will face Stanford before traveling to Los Angeles ... Against Penn, the Hawks were led by senior guard Angela Zampella who had 29 points, shooting 6-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 at the line ... Forward Stephanie Graff led with 10 rebounds ... In 1999-00, Zampella finished second in the nation with 7.8 assist per game ... Last season, St. Joseph's finished with a 25-6 overall record and 14-2 mark in the Atlantic 10, finishing first in the East division ... The Hawks return nine letterwinners and four starters from the 1999-00 squad which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament ... Head Coach Stephanie Gaitley enters her tenth season at St. Joe's and boasts a 187-81 record.

USC-St. Joseph's Series Record
Sunday's game will mark the second meeting between USC and St. Joseph's. The Trojans previously defeated the Hawks, 96-66, at the Maryland Tournament in College Park, Md., on Nov. 29, 1985.

2000-2001 Women of Troy

#1 Ayeshia Smith
Guard * 5-5 * Senior * Philadelphia, Pa. * Cowley County CC
Ayeshia Smith begins her senior year at USC and second year in the basketball program... Looking to make an impact this year after losing her junior season to injury (broken finger)... A scoring threat on the floor, she adds energy to the point guard position.
This Season: Has made 1 start and appeared in 2 games.
Started against Creighton (Nov. 17) and collected one steal and two assists in 15 minutes ... Against Drake (Nov. 19), went 2-for-5 in 13 minutes.

#3 Tiffany Elmore
Guard * 5-10 * Junior * Sacramento, Calif. * Florin HS

Tiffany Elmore begins her junior season with the Women of Troy as one of two returning starters... Primarily a two-guard, she was the go-to player last season and played a big role in a lot of key wins... Will establish herself as one of the top guards in the conference this season... A 2000 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection and Pac-10 Player of the Week (Feb. 21).
This Season: Has made 2 starts.
Against Creighton (Nov. 17) she collected eight points (4-12) ... Led with 11 points (4-9), two assists and two steals at Drake (Nov. 19).

#5 Camille Norwood
Guard * 5-8 * Junior * Los Angeles, Calif. * Washington HS

Camille Norwood enters her junior season with the Women of Troy... A player who has proven to be one of the steadiest performers on the team... Her progress made a huge impact last season and she expects to do the same this year... A dependable player who is tough to rattle at the point.
This Season: Has played in 1 game.
Is expected to played limited minutes in nonconference play while still rehabbing from ACL surgery she underwent in July ... Played eight minutes off the bench against Creighton.

#10 Jessica Cheeks
Guard * 5-9 * Freshman * Los Angeles, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Jessica Cheeks begins her first season with the Women of Troy... A player with great instincts for the game... An excellent shooter who provides a terrific backcourt threat... Will be able to play well with a three guard lineup.
This Season: Has made 1 start and appeared in 2 games.
Led with 10 points (3-8), seven boards and three assists against Creighton (Nov. 17) ... Made her first collegiate start against Drake (Nov. 19) but had nine points with a 3-of-13 effort.

#13 Denise Woods
Center/Forward * 6-3 * Senior * Richmond, Calif. * Univ. of San Francisco

Denise Woods begins her senior year with the Women of Troy... She will be looked upon for her maturity and leadership on a young team... She has made a huge commitment in her final season and is prepared to play at a peak level... Will make an impact in the conference in the post.
This Season: Has made 2 starts.
Shot 50.0 percent (3-6, 7 points) with two boards against Creighton (Nov. 17) ... Had six rebounds and three blocks against Drake (Nov. 19).

#14 Carmen Krause
Forward * 6-1 * Junior * Prescott, Ariz. * Prescott HS

Carmen Krause returns for her junior season with the Women of Troy... An athlete who plays with passion and intensity... Her defense has improved tremendously over the past two seasons and the team will rely on her toughness at the post.
This Season: Has played in 2 games.
Played 13 minutes against Creighton (Nov. 17) and 23 minutes with nine points (2-5) against Drake (Nov. 19).

#15 Lauren Smith-Hams
Guard * 5-7 * Sophomore * Los Altos, Calif. * Pinewood HS

Lauren Smith-Hams begins her sophomore season with the Women of Troy... Recruited to be a shooting force for the team at guard, but instead became one of the team's most solid defenders... This season, she will again be utilized on defense and will be relied on as one of the team's most reliable shooters off the bench.
This Season: Has played in 2 games.
Added four points in 13 minutes against Creighton (Nov. 17) and five points in 22 minutes against Drake (Nov. 19).

#20 Tennille Grant
Forward * 5-10 * Sophomore * Kansas City, Mo. * Northeast HS

Tennille Grant returns for her sophomore season with the Women of Troy... She has worked hard in the off-season to get stronger and improve her defense... Will likely be used as a post or wing player this year... A natural player who can score with her back to the basket.
This Season: Has played in 2 games.
Recorded a career-high eight points on 4-of-6 shooting against both Creighton (Nov. 17) and Drake (Nov. 19).

#21 Erin Young
Guard * 5-11 * Sophomore * Dallas, Tex. * Highland Park HS

Erin Young enters her sophomore season with the Women of Troy as a walk-on guard... Will return to the court with high expectations after a solid freshman campaign... Looks to become a more consistent shooter, primarily at the two... Has an exceptional ability to learn and will continue to get better with each season.
This Season: Has played in 1 game.
Played nine minutes against Drake (Nov. 19).

#22 Tashara Carter
Forward * 6-0 * Senior * Harbor City, Calif. * Bishop Montgomery HS

Tashara Carter begins her senior season with the Women of Troy as one of two returning starters... A do-everything player at forward, she contributes points, rebounds, assists and steals... She brings experience as the only three-year starter on the team... A 2000 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection.
This Season: Has made 2 starts.
Contributed six points and six rebounds against Creighton (Nov. 17) ... Added six points, 10 rebounds against Drake (Nov. 19).

#23 Aisha Hollans
Guard * 5-10 * Freshman * Berkeley, Calif. * Berkeley HS

Aisha Hollans begins her first season with the Women of Troy... An extremely talented young athlete who possesses all the qualities of a great wing player... Brings a completely different dimension to the game with her ability to create opportunities... A gifted and knowledgable basketball player.
This Season: Injured.

#24 Ryane Alexander
Guard * 5-7 * Freshman * Copperas Cove, Tex. * Copperas Cove HS

Ryane Alexander begins her first season with the Women of Troy... A classic point guard who likes to dish the ball and run the show when she is on the court... A hard-nosed player with great intensity and toughness... The type of player who does what the team needs her to do at all times.
This Season: Has not played.

#32 Ebony Hoffman
Forward * 6-2 * Freshman * Harbor City, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Ebony Hoffman enters her first season with the Women of Troy... A player with the potential to have a dominating influence and make a significant impact on the team... One of the country's best post players, she can run the floor and hit an outside shot... She plays a power-quickness game which will make her an exceptional player in the Pac-10.
This Season: Has made 2 starts.
Made first collegiate start against Creighton (Nov. 17) and went 1-for-12 from the field with five points and three rebounds ... Against Drake (Nov. 19), she led with 11 rebounds but still suffered with 2-of-10 shooting.

#35 Portia Mitchell
Center * 6-4 * RS Freshman * Los Angeles, Calif. * Narbonne HS

Portia Mitchell begins her redshirt freshman year at USC... A player with great size, a soft touch around the basket and excellent skills... Her commitment to her conditioning last year has already payed off this season... Mitchell ran a mile and a half in 13 minutes, one second on Sept. 8 to fulfill her requirements and begin team workouts... The team will benefit greatly from having her at the post.
This Season: Has played in 2 games.
Made her collegiate debut against Creighton (Nov. 17), collecting three rebounds in six minutes ... Played two minutes against Drake (Nov. 19).

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