Women of Troy Prepare For Pepperdine

Dec. 13, 2000

The Facts
The USC women's basketball (4-2) team is riding a four-game win streak after defeating Sacramento State on Saturday, Dec. 9, for their second-straight road victory of the 2000-01 season. The Women of Troy return home this week to face local opponent Pepperdine (7-2) on Friday, Dec. 15, at the L.A. Sports Arena. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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.

This Week's Game Broadcasts
USC vs. Pepperdine
Friday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
Listen live on www.usctrojans.com

Upcoming Promotion: USC Women's Basketball Holiday Food Drive
Bring a nonperishable food item and receive a complimentary admission to the following games:
Friday, Dec. 15, vs. Pepperdine
Thursday, Dec. 28, vs. Notre Dame

Media Teleconference
The first Pac-10 coaches media teleconference of the season will be on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Media members may call in to speak to each Pac-10 women's basketball coach according to the following schedule: 9:35 a.m. - Charlie Turner Thorne (ASU), 9:40 - Joan Bonvicini (ARIZ), 9:45 - June Daugherty (WASH), 9:50 - Jenny Prezekwas (WSU), 9:55 - Chris Gobrecht (USC), 10 - Kathy Olivier (UCLA), 10:05 - Judy Spoelstra (OSU), 10:10 - Jody Runge (ORE), 10:15 - Caren Horstmeyer (CAL), 10:20 - Tara VanDerveer (STAN).

Common Connections
Pepperdine's Assistant Coach Jody Anton is this week's common connection. Anton is a 1996 graduate of USC and four-year letterwinner (1992-96). Under the leadership of head coaches Marianne Stanley, Cheryl Miller and Fred Williams. As a shooting guard, Anton remains third among USC program records for career three-pointers with 103.

Game #6 - vs. Sacramento State (Dec. 9)
Tiffany Elmore led with 20 points as USC routed Sacramento State, 87-61, at Sacramento's Arco Arena on Dec. 9. Elmore guided a 52.1 percent team shooting effort as three Trojans finished in double figures for USC's fourth-straight victory. The Women of Troy opened play with a 16-8 run, and held the Hornets to only two field goals in the first eight minutes. Denise Woods accounted for 10 of USC's first 16 points, hitting five consecutive field goals in the span. The Trojans entered the break with a 45-24 advantage. USC led by as many as 29 points (83-54) in the second half following two free throws by Portia Mitchell with 1:31 remaining on the clock. The Hornets hit only eight field goals in the period, and scored 18 of their 42 points at the line. The Women of Troy out-rebounded Sacramento State, 53 to 29.

Is This The Same Player?
No player has made a more drastic improvement this year than sophomore forward Tennille Grant. After only averaging 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game last season, Grant has returned as one of the team's most effective shooters. She currently leads the team and the Pac-10 with a 60.0 percent shooting average. Grant has contributed 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in an average of 11.0 minutes on the court per game.

Just Can't Get Them Past Her
Since she entered the lineup in 1999-2000, opponents just can't get their shots past her. Senior center Denise Woods finished third in the Pac-10 last season with an average of 1.47 blocks per game. This year she quickly reclaimed her spot on the charts. She leads the conference with an average of 1.67 stops per game.

Opponents with NCAA experience
This season USC must prepare for nothing less than NCAA caliber opponents. Four of the Trojans last six opponents are 2000 NCAA Tournament teams (Drake, UCSB, St. Joseph's and San Diego), and three of the four remaining (Pepperdine, Texas Tech and Notre Dame) also went to the Big Dance. After including conference opponents, the Women of Troy will face 12 total teams that played in the postseason last year (UCLA, Stanford and Oregon... ASU went to WNIT).

-The Women of Troy have defeated their last two opponents by an average of 20.0 points per game.
-The last time the Trojans defeated an opponent by more than 26 points was also against Sac State with a 84-42 win over the Hornets last season (Dec. 11) at the Sports Arena.
-USC's 32 assists against Sac State (Dec. 9) ranks sixth among USC program records.

Tashara Carter surpassed a career-high with seven assists against Sac State (Dec. 9) *** The USC-San Diego game was the first time the Women of Troy shot above 50 percent since January 9, 2000, when the Trojans shot 50.8 in a win over Washington *** Forward Tennille Grant surpassed a career-high with ten points and seven rebounds against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) *** Tashara Carter tied a career-high with four blocks against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) *** 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.

Pressure Defense
Despite its shooting woes, USC has found success over the last three years thanks to a tough defensive effort. In 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the Women of Troy led the conference in turnover ratio, forcing an average of 2.5 more turnovers per game. This season is no different. In five games, the 2000-01 squad is forcing an average of 6.7 more turnovers in each game (USC 15.2, Opponents 21.8). The Trojans are also averaging 10.3 steals per game, while holding opponents to 6.5.

Lots Of New Faces
With two consecutive top 25 recruiting classes, there's a lot of new faces that will be seeing ample playing time this season. USC saw the first glimpse of this 'new generation' on Friday (Nov. 24) against UCSB when three freshman hit the court for the Trojans. Ryane Alexander, Jessica Cheeks and Ebony Hoffman shared the court for nearly a half and made definite contributions to the win. Cheeks and Hoffman have started in four of five games this season.

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.

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.

Injury Report
Freshman Aisha Hollans, who has been sidelined while rehabbing a lower back injury (slipped disk), has begun practicing with the team.

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 371-254 (.598) 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 371 career victories.

This Week's Opponents
Pepperdine (7-2)

After dropping two of its first four games this season, Pepperdine is currently riding a five-game win streak... Most recently, the Waves defeated Cal State Fullerton by a 48-point margin (103-55) on Dec. 6, and Cal Poly 79-64 on Dec. 9... Against the Mustangs, guard Damaris Hinojosa led with 20 points and nine assists... Hinojosa ranks second on the team, averaging 12.7 points per game... This season the Waves are paced by forward Nadja Morgan who averages 13.1 points, 61.3 percent shooting and 8.1 boards per outing... In 1999-2000 Pepperdine posted a 21-10 overall record and 12-2 mark in the West Coast Conference... After finishing first in conference play, the Waves were upset by San Diego in the WCC tournament for the NCAAs automatic berth... Pepperdine received an at-large bid to the 2000 NCAA Tournament and fell to Virginia, 74-62, in the first round... The Waves return 10 letterwinners, including four starters this season... Head Coach Mark Trakh has guided the team for seven seasons and boasts a 124-85 overall record.

USC-Pepperdine Series Record
In 13 meetings, dating back to 1977, USC has never lost a game against Pepperdine. With a 13-0 all-time series record, the Women of Troy have won seven games at home, five in Malibu and one at a neutral site. The most recent meeting occurred on Dec. 29, 1992, when USC defeated Pepperdine 76-61 in the USC Christmas Challenge.

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 5 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 ... Played three minutes off the bench against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Did not play against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Came off the bench to add four points, three rebounds and two assists against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 6 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) ... Added 14 points and four steals against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Struggled offensively, hitting 1-of-9 shots, but provided two blocks and four steals against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Collected six rebounds against San Diego (Dec. 2) despite shooting 1-for-6 ... Returning to her hometown, she led with 20 points (8-14) against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 made 1 start and played in 4 games.
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 ... Played eight minutes off the bench and made one steal against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Contributed two assists and two points in 18 minutes against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Played 14 minutes against San Diego (Dec. 2) ... Made her first start of the season against Sac State (Dec. 9), adding four assists despite four turnovers.

#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 4 starts and appeared in 5 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 ... Added eight points, four steals and hit 2-of-4 from three-point range against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Added eight points against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Posted double figures against San Diego (Dec. 2) with 13 points hitting 6-of-8 from the field ... Did not play against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 6 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) ... Led with 16 points , three blocks and five boards against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Hit 4-of-6 for 11 points against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Continues to improve with another top performance against San Diego (Dec. 2), including a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds ... Began USC's first scoring run against Sac State (Dec. 9) by accounting for the first five of six field goals in the game and finishing 14 points (7-9).

#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 made 1 start and played in 5 games.
Played 13 minutes against Creighton (Nov. 17) and 23 minutes with nine points (2-5) against Drake (Nov. 19) ... Hit 2-of-4 off the bench against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Made her first start against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) and contributed four points, rebounds and assists ... Did not play against San Diego (Dec. 2) ... Hit 2-of-4 from the field, including 1-of-1 three-pointers for six points against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 4 games.
Added four points in 13 minutes against Creighton (Nov. 17) and five points in 22 minutes against Drake (Nov. 19) ... Did not play against UCSB (Nov. 24) and St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Came off the bench for 11 minutes against San Diego (Dec. 2) and hit 2-of-3 from the field ... Was 2-of-3 from three-point range for six points against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 6 games.
Recorded eight points on 4-of-6 shooting against both Creighton (Nov. 17) and Drake (Nov. 19) Only played two minutes off the bench against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Surpassed her previous career-highs with 10 points and seven rebounds against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Played 14 minutes against San Diego (Dec. 2) with four points and two rebounds ... Shot 50.0 percent (3-6) and added seven rebounds against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 5 games.
Played nine minutes against Drake (Nov. 19) ... Came off the bench early and played nine minutes with two assists against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Played three minutes against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Added one rebound and one steal in four minutes against San Diego (Dec. 2) ... Grabbed five rebounds in 15 minutes on the court against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 6 starts.
Contributed six points and six rebounds against Creighton (Nov. 17) ... Added six points, 10 rebounds against Drake (Nov. 19) ... Fouled out after only adding four points and two boards against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... With an outstanding performance, she led with 14 points (4-10), 10 rebounds, four blocks and four assists against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Was the second-leading scorer against San Diego (Dec. 2) with 14 points (6-8) in addition to two assists, two steals and five rebounds ... Added a career-high seven assists and three steals against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#23 Aisha Hollans (i-EE-sha 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 .... Began practicing with the team the week of Dec. 4.

#24 Ryane Alexander (RYAN 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 played in 4 games.
Made her collegiate debut against UCSB (Nov. 24) and played 15 minutes in which she made a crucial defensive stop to clinch the win for the Trojans ... Played seven minutes against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Played seven minutes against San Diego (Dec. 2) ... Played six minutes against Sac State (Dec. 9).

#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 5 starts and appeared in 6 games.
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 ... In her best performance, she added 12 points (5-10), five rebounds and three assists against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Did not start but led with 14 points (4-8) and added four rebounds and two blocks against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Resumed her starting position against San Diego (Dec. 2) and led with eight rebounds and three steals, in addition to 11 points ... Was one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double against Sac State (Dec. 9) after contributing 14 points and a team-high nine boards and eight assists.

#35 Portia Mitchell (POR-sha 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 5 games.
Made her collegiate debut against Creighton (Nov. 17), collecting three rebounds in six minutes ... Played two minutes against Drake (Nov. 19) ... Added three rebounds in six minutes of play against UCSB (Nov. 24) ... Did not play against St. Joseph's (Nov. 26) ... Collected three rebounds in seven minutes off the bench against San Diego (Dec. 2) ... Played eight minutes against Sac State (Dec. 9) but hit only 1-of-7 from the field.

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