USC Women Line Up For Pac-10 Tournament
Feb. 27, 2007
USC makes its postseason push this weekend at the Pac-10 Tournament at HP Pavilion in San Jose, working to increase its standing in the NCAA's eyes for a shot at a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Women of Troy open the Pac-10 Tournament against the same opponent it beat in the quarterfinals last year, fourth-seeded Washington (18-11). The fifth-seeded Trojans (16-12) square off against the Huskies at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday (March 3). A win would put USC in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (March 4), and the Pac-10 championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday (March 5). The semifinals and final will be televised by Fox Sports. Live audio also will be available for all USC games at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC remains unranked in the national polls this week. Top-seeded Stanford is ranked at No. 7 (AP) and 8 (USA Today/ESPN), followed by second seed No. 9/7 Arizona State and third seed No. 25/24 California.
USC put up a solid fight in its final weekend of Pac-10 regular-season action, but got stuck with two tight losses to Conference powers Cal and Stanford. In Berkeley, USC was edged out in overtime by the Bears, seeing a second-half lead eclipsed in the last few minutes of regulation before Cal worked ahead on free throws to claim an 86-79 win. USC was led by a 22-point night by Shay Murphy and 16 points from Jamie Hagiya. Nine different Women of Troy scored in the game, but Cal had a powerhouse night from two posts, Ashley Walker (32 points, 11 rebounds) and Devanei Hampton (25 points) and double figures from Natasha Vital (15) and Keanna Levy (11) to anchor the Bears to victory. Hagiya had 14 points by halftime as she helped lead USC in a strong 3-point outing to open the game. USC made good on six 3-pointers -- four from Hagiya and two from Allison Jaskowiak -- in the first half for a 52 percent overall shooting effort from the floor. Cal wasn't far behind, going 48 percent from the floor by halftime. USC's defense was effective in taking a lot of time away from Cal's offensive setup, but the Bears had the advantage on the boards throughout. The Bears were successful in keeping the Trojans relatively quiet on the offensive boards. The rebounding game weighed in Cal's favor to the tune of a 39-27 rebounding advantage (season-low rebounds for USC). That edge was most glaring in overtime, when USC earned no second chances, leaving USC forced to foul. Walker finished the game with 14 points off free throws, leading a 29-of-37 effort from the line by Cal. USC hit nine threes in the game and ended with a 44.6 shooting percentage compared to 47.3 by Cal along with five 3-pointers -- three in the second half and two from Levy in the last 4:15 of regulation. Three days later in Palo Alto, USC was left just short of a big upset on the road, falling 56-53 to No. 8 Stanford in the Pac-10 regular-season finale for both teams. The Trojans got ahead by one point on a layup from Murphy with 50 seconds remaining, but Stanford's posts Jayne Appel and Brooke Smith scored the next four points for the Cardinal to steal away the win. Murphy led USC in scoring with 13 points, and fellow senior Chloe Kerr had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans. Appel led all scorers with 14 points, and Stanford also got double figures from Smith (13 points) and Kristen Newlin (10). USC's pressure defense forced the Cardinal into eight turnovers in the first half, generating nine points for the Trojans to help USC hold a 29-28 halftime edge. Stanford was shooting better in the half, going 40 percent from the floor to USC's 30, but the Trojans got themselves to the line and went 11-of-14 to counter the slower start from the floor. Shooting didn't heat up much more for the Trojans, unfortunately, as they finished the game with a 28.6 percent -- a season low for USC. Stanford shot 35.6 percent in the game.
Out of action: 4 redshirts -- USC will redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and junior Camille LeNoir this year in order to allow the two guards to heal from respective injuries. Gemelos suffered a torn ACL in her final high school game, and LeNoir suffered a broken hip during the offseason. Also redshirting the season will be junior Brynn Cameron. Senior Markisha Lea has been sidelined all season with a knee injury and is now tabbed to redshirt. Previously injured freshmen Aarika Hughes (foot) and Hailey Dunham (back) both have recently returned to the floor for USC. Hughes returned at Arizona (1/18) after sitting out since the beginning of December, and Dunham got back to action at OSU (2/1) after being sidelined since Dec. 20.
The Feb. 17 game vs. Arizona marked the final home regular-season game for USC's six seniors. Five are regular starters for the Women of Troy, and altogether the group averages 47 points and 24 rebounds per game, accounting for 70 percent of USC's scoring and 59 percent of its rebounding. This year's heralded senior class includes Jamie Funn, Jamie Hagiya, Allison Jaskowiak, Chloe Kerr, Shay Murphy and Kristen Travers.
WELCOME TO THE CLUBS
Senior guard Shay Murphy reached a landmark on USC's first road trip of the season. With a 23-point night at South Dakota State, Murphy hit the 1,000 career point-mark on the money on Nov. 17 -- her 91st career game, including herself on a legendary list of 19 other Women of Troy who have hit that heralded career mark, including USC greats Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, who had their jerseys retired and hung in the Galen Center on Nov. 10. Murphy began the season with 956 career points and extended her double-digit scoring streak to 47 straight games before missing her first game in double figures on Feb. 3. She didn't take long to get back on track, however, as she now boasts double-digit scoring in 52 of the past 53 games. Murphy currently holds 1,462 career points -- seven away from joining the all-time Top 10. Her 33-point outing at Colorado on Dec. 2 made her just the 14th Trojan to have scored 30 or more points in a game, with the last such effort coming back in 2002. Murphy broke that barrier for the second time with 30 against Arizona on Jan. 18, becoming just the seventh Trojan to have repeat 30-point outings in a single season. The last player to do so was Tina Thompson in the 1996-97 season. With five steals against ASU, Murphy passed up Lisa Leslie on USC's career steals charts and now ranks No. 6 all-time with 232.
THE BIG 5-0
We're not talking birthday candles, but rather a nice half-century mark of wins for USC head coach Mark Trakh. With the Trojans' 77-68 victory over Arizona on Jan. 18, Trakh recorded his 50th win at USC. His overall record at Troy is now 55-35.
AND THE BIGGER 2-5-0
If these were candles, Mark Trakh may still be blowing them out. Instead, he's now free to celebrate hitting the 250 career win mark, having grabbed his 250th victory with USC's 65-47 win over WSU on Jan. 26. Trakh's career collegiate coaching record is now 254-158.
With five 3-pointers in USC's winning home series against Oregon and OSU, senior point guard Jamie Hagiya passed up current USC assistant coach Jody Wynn (then Jody Anton) on USC's all-time 3-point shooting list. Wynn finished her Trojan career with 103 three-pointers. After a trio of threes against Arizona and another at ASU, Hagiya vaulted herself into sole possession of the No. 2 spot all-time, where she now stands alone with with 129 career threes, with fellow senior Shay Murphy holding the No. 1 all-time spot with 179.
As USC's lone healthy scholarship point guard, pressure has been heaped on senior Jamie Hagiya's shoulders. Hagiya has willingly accepted that role, and performed. A proven ball-handler in her four years at Troy, Hagiya has also stepped up her scoring, pumping in double figures in 12 straight games to become USC's second leading scorer during Pac-10 play.She's averaging 10.1 points per game, and 10.8 in Pac-10 play, and is serving up 4.4 assists per game. USC is 11-6 when Hagiya scores in double figures so far this season, and was 9-3 during her recent double-digit streak. On USC's Oregon trip, Hagiya passed up Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time career assists ladder. Having displaced Cooper, Hagiya now ranks No. 5 all-time and holds 408 career assists -- within six of tying up another USC legend, Cheryl Miller.
Senior center Chloé Kerr has scored in double figures in 19 games this season. She had scored in double digits in 14 straight games stretching from last season's NCAA Tournament action until a slow night at Washington. Kerr made sure to pick up the pace the following game, however, leading all scorers with 19 points against WSU on Dec. 31, and replicated that effort with a game-high 19 at UCLA on Jan. 13. She also leads the team in blocks with 44 and has recorded two double-doubles.
WALK RIGHT UP
USC guard Nicole Berberet is a junior academically, a freshman eligibility-wise, and on paper may well be the last player opponents would expect to see in a scouting report. But despite not having played competitive basketball since her sophomore year of high school, Berberet made the USC roster as a walk-on this year and earned herself a starting role at point guard on Dec. 29. Appearing in 21 games this year, Berberet has gone from averaging 3.0 minutes per game in USC's first eight games, to averaging 10.5 minutes per game during Pac-10 play. She has nabbed 10 steals and is 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
Sophomore center Nadia Parker had a career weekend at the Women of Troy Classic. After hitting double figures only twice in her freshman season at Troy, Parker posted back-to-back double-digit efforts and led the Trojans in scoring for the first time in her career in both games -- first with a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds against Prairie View A&M, and then with a game-high 16 points against Houston. She's also second on the team in blocks with 19, and she's moved up to stand as USC's fourth leading scorer with 179 points (6.4 ppg).
MURPHY LAYS DOWN THE LAW
WIth her game-winning efforts at OSU on Feb. 1, Shay Murphy extended her double-digit scoring streak to 47 games -- an accomplishment that carries over from her junior season in which she received Kodak/WBCA All-America honorable mention. She provided team-high scoring (17.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), steals (2.4 spg) and 3-pointers made (69) and finished out the year ranked among the top-10 in the Pac-10 in seven categories. This season, she has improved across the board once again. Entering this week's action, Murphy is the Pac-10's top offensive rebounder (3.36 pg), second in scoring (18.1 ppg), rebounding (8.4 rpg), free-throw percentage (.859), 3-pointers (2.39 pg), third in steals (2.14 spg) and sixth in defensive rebounds (5.04 pg). Murphy's 2006-07 preseason honors now include: State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Candidate, John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team, Street & Smith Preseason Honorable Mention, Preseason All-Pac-10 Team. Most recently, Murphy was tabbed a Naismith Trophy Preseason Candidate. She also is a top-10 finalist for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award, an honor celebrating a student-athlete's outstanding athletic abilities as well as personality, leadership, perseverance and extracurricular activities.
Senior forward Jamie Funn is one of six seniors on the USC squad. Her junior season was cut short when an offseason hip injury required surgery halfway through the year. Thanks to a broken nose suffered early in the season, Funn donned a face mask for the 16 games she appeared in. She notched nine starts and averaged 5.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She was sidelined for the start of the 2006-07 season, but has now finally returned to the court for the Women of Troy. USC is 9-5 with Funn back in the lineup, and the senior is averaging 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
SENIOR STRENGTH IN THE PAINT
Senior center Chloe Kerr is USC's second leading scorer (11.8 ppg) and second leading rebounder (6.5 rpg) this season. At 6-3, Kerr boasts the height and experience to stand strong as the Trojans' go-to post player. This season, she nailed a career-high 25 points -- including an 11-of-11 effort from the free throw line to rank No. 3 all-time in single-game free throw percentage -- against Nebraska, earning her first career honor as Pac-10 Player of the Week. USC's top blocker this season, Kerr now boasts 138 career blocks, ranking her No. 5 all-time in USC's history books.
TOP CLASS -- WITH A PAINFUL TWIST
Heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, the foursome of Jacki Gemelos, Aarika Hughes, Hailey Dunham and Morghan Medlock put the finishing touches on Trakh's 2006-07 lineup. However, in a surprising and frustrating turn of events, injuries to three freshmen have left Medlock as the only one in the class to appear in every contest this season. Gemelos -- tabbed the No. 1 recruit in the nation and a McDonald's All-American in her senior year at St. Mary's HS -- suffered a torn ACL at the close of her prep season, and the sharp-shooting guard is redshirting her first season at Troy to fully heal from the setback. Guard Hughes had been sidelined since the end of November with a stress fracture in her foot until returning on Jan. 18, and point guard Dunham sustained a back injury on Dec. 20 against Stanford to become the third member of the 2006 recruiting class to be painfully forced to the USC bench. Both Hughes and Dunham had seen time in the starting lineup until their injuries struck. Medlock -- a McDonald's All-American -- has started seven games for the Women of Troy and is averaging 6.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg in her first year at Troy. Against UCLA on Jan. 13, Medlock pumped in seven straight points on her way to an 11-point outing for her fourth double-digit game of the season, and hit double figures again with 10 at ASU.
As an overwhelming welcoming gift to the new-and-improved USC team, the Women of Troy kick off their 2006-07 season in a new home. The impressive Galen Center facility offers a plush and state-of-the-art forum for the Women of Troy to build on their tradition of success. Coach Trakh and his troops have 15 home games on the schedule -- not including the 2007 NCAA First and Second Rounds that the Women of Troy plan to be a part of March 17 & 19.
Junior Camille LeNoir is now one of three USC athletes hailing from nearby Narbonne High School. Senior forward Jamie Funn is the eldest of the trio, with freshman Morghan Medlock rounding out the high school connections on the Trojan roster. Four years ago, the three were teammates on Narbonne's Los Angeles City Section champion team.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year, and eight of them return this season. This year, Trakh again has utilized nine different starting lineups, with three freshmen having seen at least one start.
While Allison Jaskowiak was a starter for USC at the 2006 NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Va., her sister Emily Jaskowiak started for Tulsa at the NCAA tournament in Chicago. Both sisters helped lead their schools to the second round. Also, on the same night that USC point guard Camille LeNoir helped lead the Women of Troy to a Pac-10 Tournament win against Washington on March 4 with 17 points and five assists, her younger sister Danielle, a former ball girl at USC, had 10 points and four steals as her Narbonne High School won the Los Angeles City Section championship.
A LOOK BACK
USC is coming off a 2005-06 season where it posted an 11-7 mark in Pac-10 play to finish tied with Washington in fourth place behind Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. Eight Pac-10 regular-season games were decided by five or fewer points for the Trojans, leaving USC with a 5-3 mark in those tight conference games. After three straight down-to-the-wire games at the close of the regular season, USC pulled out possibly its most crucial win with a tense 70-67 victory over Washington in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. That effort gave the Trojans their 18th win to lock them into the NCAA Tournament.