USC Women Face Washington in Pac-10 Tourney
Feb. 28, 2006
HERE AND NOW
USC's hopes for a bid into the NCAA Tournament are still alive as the Women of Troy prepare for the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., this week. The Trojans are the No. 5 seed in the tournament and will face fourth-seeded Washington (18-9, 11-7) at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday (March 4). The winner of that game moves to Sunday's semifinals, facing top-seeded Stanford or the winner of Friday's No. 8 Oregon/No. 9 Arizona play-in game.
RANK AND FILE
USC (17-10, 11-7) remains unranked this week. Washington (18-9, 11-7) also is unranked. The Pac-10 has two teams in the national rankings, No. 13/11 Arizona State and No. 14/13 Stanford.
Junior forward Jamie Funn will be out the remainder of the 2005-06 season after having hip surgery on Jan. 18. Her final game was against No. 25 Washington on Jan. 14. Sophomore guard Brynn Cameron is out indefinitely with a hip injury. Her last game for USC was Jan. 21 against UCLA. Sophomore guard Símone Jelks will remain sidelined with a reinjured knee.
USC came up just short in its rally to reach 18 wins and a third-place finish in Pac-10 play after splitting games in its final regular-season road trip. The split was not for lack of effort on the part of Eshaya Murphy, however, who scored 50 points on the trip, including a 21-point second half in a 69-64 comeback win at Oregon and then a career-high 27 points in a 67-64 loss at Oregon State. Camille LeNoir also hit a career mark on the weekend with five steals against the Beavers. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for USC and became the Trojans' first loss in a game decided by four or fewer points.
After nailing four 3-pointers against Oregon, Eshaya Murphy pulled even with assistant coach Jody Wynn (then Jody Anton) in the all-time charts. Another pair of threes against OSU, however, rang up Murphy's total to 105 career 3-pointers, bumping Wynn down to No. 4 all-time, while Murphy now sits alone at No. 3 in USC 3-point history. Thanks to that hefty 3-point tally, Murphy has hit double figures in 21 straight games.
The second half of Pac-10 play has been a battle for the Trojans. Even in an eventual nine-point loss to Stanford, the final of minute of play was a nail-biter, and that's been the trend throughout. Entering the final minute of play, no game has had more than a six-point margin. Against Cal, USC trailed by five in the final minute; against Stanford it was four; at Oregon it was a three-point game; against Washington and at UCLA it was two; at Arizona it was a one-point game; and at OSU the teams were tied up with a minute on the clock. USC's clash with Washington wound up going into double overtime for the fifth overtime game between the two in series history.
Senior captain Meghan Gnekow has worked her way into and upwards on the USC career 3-point shooting charts and now sits at No. 5 all-time with 96 threes, having passed up injured sophomore Brynn Cameron's 91. Leading the pack of current Trojans on the list is junior Eshaya Murphy at No. 3 with 105 career threes. Newcomer to the Top-10 chart is junior Jamie Hagiya, who sits tied at No. 9 with 77.
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
Junior guard Eshaya Murphy has led USC in scoring 18 times so far this season and has hit double figures in 21 straight games now -- 26 total. In USC's gut-wrenching 67-64 loss at Oregon State on Feb. 25, Murphy hit a career-high 27 points. That was just a game after hitting 21 points in the second half alone at Oregon on Feb. 23. She had a double-double in that Oregon match as well, notching her fifth of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the 69-64 comeback win. Now with 62 three-pointers on the season, Murphy has more than matched her previous career total and now ranks No. 3 all-time with 105 threes. She now ranks No. 45 in the nation in scoring with 17.6 points per game, and is second in steals (2.4 spg), third in 3-pointers (2.3 pg), fourth in scoring and fifth in rebounding (7.5 rpg) in the Pac-10. Murphy was selected to the 2005 Pac-10 All-Tournament Team as a sophomore.
Sophomore point guard Camille LeNoir has been a key part of the balanced attack for the Women of Troy. She's USC's top distributor with 34.0 assists per game (fourth in Pac-10) and has scored in double digits in every game but seven. In her first start for USC on Dec. 20, she finished with just four points, but dished up a season-high six assists. Since then, she hit a new career-high 24 points against California on Jan. 1 that came along with a career-best five 3-pointers, and hit a pair of jumpers to get USC into the lead against No. 9 Arizona State on Jan. 6 in a 13-point outing. Against UCLA, LeNoir knocked in a career night with 27 points (22 in the second half and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line) and seven assists, earning her Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Recently against WSU, LeNoir bettered that career mark with eight assists on Feb. 11. Her next career best came at OSU when she picked off five steals on Feb. 25.
HAGIYA HEATS UP
USC junior point guard Jamie Hagiya had a hot night against Washington State on Jan. 12, matching her career high of 16 points on four 3-pointers and a 100 percent effort from the free-throw line. She began the season by going from season highs to career highs in a span of two games when she first nailed a season-best 13 points and three 3-pointers against LMU, and then upped the ante with four 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 16 points and grabbed a career-best seven steals against Cal State Northridge. She's second on the team in assists with 3.7 per game and third in steals with 1.5 per game.
JASKOWIAK OFF THE PINE AND ON THE RADAR
Allison Jaskowiak is a bench-warmer no more. Stifling defensive pressure and tenacious rebounding have earned the junior guard/forward a starting job in USC's past 15 Pac-10 games, giving her 19 starts on the season. She's gone from averaging just 7.7 minutes a game as a sophomore to 26.2 mpg as a junior, doubled her career high scoring to 12 points, scored in 19 games and more than doubled her previous career total rebounds and 3-pointers with 111 boards and 12 threes so far this season. Against Washington on Feb. 9, she pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, and she came just one point shy of her career best with 11 crucial points against UCLA on Feb. 18.
PARKER IN THE PAINT
Freshman center Nadia Parker has made a home for herself in the key. She scored in 11 straight Pac-10 games, and set career marks in rebounds with seven against Cal on Jan. 1 and then topped out with 10 points and a pair of steals against Arizona on Jan. 8.
KERR IN THE KEY
Junior center Chloe Kerr went big against UCLA on Feb. 18 with a career-high 21 points on 75-percent shooting from the floor. It wasn't quite the .900 mark she hit early in the season vs. Cal State Fullerton, but the big-time scoring effort more than cracked a small slump for Kerr. Kerr had totaled 21 points across the past previous three games before busting loose with career night of 21 all in one game vs. crosstown rival UCLA. She's also ranked No. 3 in the Pac-10 in blocked shots with 1.45 per game.
TAGTEAM, BACK AGAIN
Guards Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir created a dangerous scoring tandem in many of USC's biggest wins this season. As the trend goes, Murphy was the hot-handed one in the first half, followed by LeNoir's cool and collected second-half spikes. In the Jan. 6 win over then-No. 9 ASU, Murphy scored 11 points -- all from the field -- in the second half and finished with a career-best 22. LeNoir then stepped in and drilled eight of her final 13 in the second. The following weekend at No. 25 Washington, Murphy poured in 13 first-half points (finished with 19), and LeNoir pumped in 14 second-half points on the way to an 18-point night. In a tight win over UCLA, Murphy nailed four 3-pointers and had 16 points by halftime before giving way to LeNoir's sharpshooting from the field and the free-throw line. Murphy finished with 20 points on 67 percent shooting, and LeNoir added a career-high 27 -- 22 of which came in the second half (11 in second-half free throws).
USC has now hit the .500 mark in shooting percentage twice this season, going .526 in a 94-54 win over Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 16, 2005, and then hitting 50 percent on the money against Washington State on Feb. 11, 2006. Chloé Kerr had a big role in the .526 output with a .900 effort on 9-of-10 shooting. No Trojan had hit such a high mark since 1987, leaving Kerr tied at No. 5 all-time for her single-game shooting percentage against the Titans.
The USC women's basketball team has had at least three players score in double figures in 17 games so far this year, suffering their first loss with three double-digit scorers on Jan. 29 vs. Stanford. In an earlier dominating win over Cal State Northridge, six players nailed double digits and all 10 players who hit the court scored in the game. At the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic, four players hit double digits in both games. Chloé Kerr, Eshaya Murphy and Camille LeNoir all hit double digits twice, as the Trojans had eight and seven different scorers, respectively, emerge against Hawai'i and Eastern Illinois. Against Notre Dame, Cal State Fullerton, vs. Oregon State, and at ASU and UCLA, the Women of Troy produced another balanced attack with four double-digit scorers, although the Notre Dame and ASU games saw the Trojans get stuck with a loss despite that widespread scoring production.
BACK ON THE BOARDS
USC's 27 offensive rebounds in its season opener against Eastern Illinois bettered last season's top offensive boards mark of 26, set on Feb. 12, 2005 against Arizona. USC had 52 total rebounds in that game, but bettered that mark once more against Cal State Fullerton with 55 rebounds. USC hasn't hit such a high mark on the boards since tearing down 58 against New Mexico on Nov. 21, 2003.
COUNTDOWN TO GALEN
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.
You can follow USC's Pac-10 Tournament action with Gametracker and Live Audio at www.usctrojans.com. The audio broadcasts can be accessed by purchasing a Trojan All-Access Pass through the multimedia link at usctrojans.com. Jonathan Horowitz and Felix Rodrigues-Lima will be providing your audio coverage of the game.
BACK IN ACTION
USC returns 10 players from last season to this year's roster that registered a 20-11 overall record, second-place finish in the Pac-10 and second-round NCAA Tournament appearance, 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, Chloé 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. 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.
PRESEASON PICK 'EM
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 had the 2005-06 Trojans at No. 21.