No. 25 USC Women Face TCU In Home Opener

Nov. 29, 2005

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The USC women's basketball team is back at home after beginning the 2005-06 season with four straight road games. This year's home opener brings in TCU, which the Trojans host at the Sports Arena at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 4).

USC (2-2) is ranked No. 25 in this week's USA Today/ESPN Poll, and dropped out of the AP poll this week. TCU (2-2) is unranked in both polls.

The Trojans were tagged with their first losses of the 2005-06 season last week. The first came in a disappointing 51-46 loss at Long Beach State. The Trojans struggled from the start and could not manage to generate the offense needed to pass up the 49ers. Both teams slumped in the first half and were stuck at 17-17 at halftime. Camille LeNoir paced the Trojans with 15 points, and Eshaya Murphy added 14 to finish as the only Women of Troy in double figures. The frustrating team performance seemed to wake up the Women of Troy, and the Trojans came to play in a tough road game against No. 13 Notre Dame but lost 73-62 to their first ranked opponent of the year. The lead changed hands 14 times, and the Women of Troy had an eight-point lead during the first half. The Fighting Irish battled to tie it 33-33 at halftime, and worked ahead of the Trojans in the final few minutes of play thanks in part to several trips to the free-throw line. Four Women of Troy scored in double figures against Notre Dame, led by Chloe Kerr's double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. LeNoir added 12, Murphy had 11, and Jamie Hagiya scored 10 points for the Trojans in the loss. The loss marked USC's seventh straight to Notre Dame.

The Trojans' return home to the friendly and familiar floor at the Sports Arena this week brings the Women of Troy back into a winning atmosphere that may help USC snap its two-game losing slump. The home courts at Troy (Sports Arena and Lyon Center) largely have been a secure place for the Women of Troy, as USC boasts a 25-2 all-time record in home openers. Only two teams got the best of the Trojans on their home floor last season, and the 2005-06 ride will mark the final season before the opening of the new, highly anticipated 10,258-seat Galen Center (set to open for the 2006-07 season). This season's Pac-10 schedule opens up at the Lyon Center and the final 2005-06 conference game on USC hardwood is set for Feb. 11 at the Sports Arena.

For the first time since the 2002-03 season, USC jumped out to a 2-0 start with a pair of wins at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic. The Trojans had split in their first two games for the previous two seasons. After their opening win against Hawai'i, the Women of Troy now improve to 24-5 all-time in their season openers and 17-10 in opening road games.

The USC women's basketball team has had four players score in double figures in three games so far this year. At the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic. Chloé Kerr, Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir all hit double digits in both games, as the Trojans had eight and seven different scorers, respectively, emerge against Hawai'i and Eastern Illinois. Against Notre Dame, the Women of Troy produced another balanced attack with Kerr, Murphy, LeNoir and Jamie Hagiya all scoring in double digits in the hard-fought loss to the then-No. 13 Fighting Irish.

USC rang up a hefty number of rebounds on Nov. 20 against Eastern Illinois. The Women of Troy hit the boards and ripped down 52 total rebounds, including 27 offensive rebounds. That mark bettered last season's top offensive boards mark of 26, set on Feb. 12, 2005 against Arizona. The Trojans last tallied 52 total rebounds also against Arizona last season on March 5.

Last season's 20-11 overall record, second-place finish in the Pac-10 and second-round NCAA Tournament appearance -- coupled with a daunting 10 returners back -- translated into several preseason rankings for the Women of Troy. In 2004-05, the Trojans were one of five Pac-10 teams to reach the NCAA Tournament and win at least one game. This season, USC has been picked to finish No. 2 behind No. 1 Stanford in the Pac-10 Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Pac-10 Media Poll behind UCLA. In the larger 2005-06 scene, USC also was chosen among the elite top 25 teams in the nation, selected at No. 22 standing in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Poll and a No. 24 slot in the Associated Press Top 25 Women's Basketball Poll. The Women of Troy join five other Pac-10 schools in the national preseason polls. In the Athlon preseason poll, USC picked up its highest ranking at No. 16, while Lindy's has the 2005-06 Trojans at No. 21.

This season marks the final stint for the USC women and men in the Lyon Center and Sports Arena, as the Trojans eagerly await the completion of the highly anticipated Galen Center. The Galen is set to be the new home for basketball and volleyball for the 2006-07 season. All systems are go over at the new site, with construction in its final stages for the impressive facility. The structure is located on the corner of Jefferson and Figueroa, and will contain a 255,000 square-foot arena capable of seating 10,258 fans. Locker rooms, practice courts, offices and more will also find shelter within the Galen Center walls.

USC returns 10 players from last season to this year's roster, and has added to it one highly regarded recruit, one walk-on player and a complete coaching staff with their first season at Troy tucked solidly under their belts. All told, almost 80 percent of the Trojans' scoring production returns to the court for the 2005-06 campaign. Leading the way are a pair of sophomore guards -- Camille LeNoir and Brynn Cameron -- who started as freshmen and emerged as the Trojans' top two scorers. The pair accounted for 18.5 points per game last season. Even mightier as a group is this year's junior class of six -- comprised of Jamie Hagiya, Jamie Funn, Eshaya Murphy, Chloe Kerr, Allison Jaskowiak and Markisha Lea. That group averaged a combined 27.1 ppg, 17.2 rpg, 6.16 apg and 5.0 spg last season as sophomores, and all six are set to hit the court in 2005-06 as well. Now the lone senior on the squad, Meghan Gnekow brings back her experience and adept skills on the boards as the team's leading rebounder (5.8 rpg last season) and defensive stopper.

Of USC's 11 losses in 2004-05, six were against Top-25 teams, six were by four points or fewer and nine came on the road.

Four Opponents Ranked In Top 25
USC's schedule features four opponents ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 preseason polls, including No. 4 Ohio State (Dec. 11), No. 11/10 Stanford (Dec. 30 and Jan. 29), No. 15 Notre Dame (Nov. 27), and No. 20/18 Arizona State (Jan. 6 and Feb. 2). UCLA, TCU, Oregon and Arizona also all received votes in the polls.

The Horned Frogs are 2-2 this season after splitting games last week with a 72-52 win over Mississippi State and a 77-54 loss to NOrth Carolina at the Caribbean Classic in Mexico. Their one common opponent with USC this season is Long Beach State, which TCU beat in overtime 71-68 in their season opener on Nov. 18. TCU went 23-10 overall last season and finished tied for third in the Conference USA at 10-4. Head coach Jeff Mittie is in his seventh year at TCU. The Horned Frogs return three starters and 10 letterwinners and are led this season by junior guard Natasha Lacy, junior forward Ashley Davis and senior forward Vanessa Clementino. All three are averaging in double figures with 12.3, 11.5 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.

USC-TCU Series Record -- USC won the only meeting between the Trojans and the Horned Frogs with a 71-70 victory last season in Texas.

TCU Connections
• USC has no players from Texas.
• TCU has two players from California. Sophomore forward Lorie Butler-Rayford is from Inglewood (Morningside HS), and freshman forward Marissa Rivera is from Chula Vista (La Jolla Country Day School).

Women's Basketball On LA Airwaves
KMPC-AM 1540 -- USC's flagship station -- will air six Women of Troy basketball games this season, beginning with USC's home opener against TCU on Dec. 4. Pete Arbogast, the voice of Trojan football, will provide play-by-play, and former Trojan women's basketball standout Denise Woods ('00) will provide color commentary for the following games: Dec. 4 vs. TCU; Jan. 6 vs. Arizona State; Jan. 21 vs. UCLA; Jan. 27 vs. California, Jan. 29 vs. Stanford; and Feb. 18 vs. UCLA.

TRI-CAPTAINSThis season's team captains are senior Meghan Gnekow and juniors Chloé Kerr and Allison Jaskowiak.


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