USC and UCLA Women Clash At A Day In Troy
Jan. 15, 2008
USC settles back in to the Galen Center this week, setting up for a big one-game weekend against its crosstown rival. The Trojans will host UCLA in the teams' first face-off of the season this Saturday (Jan. 19) in a 12 p.m. match. USC (10-7, 3-3 Pac-10) has lost just once at the Galen Center this season and holds a five-game winning streak against the Bruins (9-8, 4-2), and six of the past seven games between the rivals have been determined by four points or fewer.
The USC-UCLA game will be broadcast live on the web through Trojan TV All-Access at www.usctrojans.com. Live video and audio is available, as well as live stats on Gametracker also linked from the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
GRAB THE GAUNTLET
This weekend's matchup with UCLA marks another heated battle in the year-long Lexus Gauntlet competition between the rival schools. The Women of Troy are playing to pad the Trojans' lead, which currently stands at 22.5-12.5 entering this weekend's action. Five points are on the line in Saturday's game. UCLA won last year's trophy in the annual all-sports competition. It takes 57.5 points to clinch the Lexus Gauntlet.
IN THE NATION
Neither USC nor UCLA are ranked in this week's polls.
USC came away with a road split last weekend, pulling out a comeback effort for a 62-58 win at Washington State before going cold against Washington and falling 60-45 in Seattle. Against the Cougars, USC got double-digit efforts from three different Trojans. In addition to Heather Oliver's career-high 16-point outing - which included the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute of play - Nadia Parker delivered a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds, and Simone Jelks added 10 points for the Trojans. USC allowed only 20 points out of the Cougars in the second half, although WSU won the rebounding face-off 42-31 in the end. WSU led 38-27 at halftime, and worked out to a 13-point lead early in the second half. USC closed in, but the Cougars padded a lead again, going up 56-50 at 2:43. USC then got a score from Oliver, two free throws from Hailey Dunham and then finally tied up the game for the first time since the first half with a low bucket from Parker that made it 56-56 with 1:15 to go. Oliver drilled her second three of the night and pushed USC to its first lead since 7:30 to go in the first half, bumping the Trojans up 59-56 with 39 seconds left in the game as USC hung on down the stretch for the win. USC was cool from 3-point range in the second half (2-of-8), but warmed up its overall shooting percentage to 39 percent in the game, while WSU dropped to finish 37 percent from the floor. Three days later at Washington, USC could not overcome a poor shooting performance, falling 60-45 to the Huskies. The Trojans shot a season-low 25.7 percent from the floor, while Washington managed 45.3 percent to keep some padding between the Huskies and the Trojans down the stretch. Oliver was USC's leading scorer in the game, scoring 11 points for the Trojans. Parker was next with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Bruins are 9-8 overall and 4-3 in Pac-10 play after a sweep in Washington. UCLA beat Washington 59-57 and WSU 76-56 last weekend. Lindsey Pluimer leads UCLA with 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Head coach Kathy Olivier is in her 15th season at UCLA, which went 14-18 and finished seventh in the Pac-10 at 7-11 last season. USC is 39-31 all-time against the Bruins, including five straight wins for the Trojans. Six of the past seven USC-UCLA games have been decided by four or fewer points, with the Trojans posting the largest recent victory in the most recent game, a 62-55 USC win at the Galen Center last year.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but had been sidelined since October 2006 by hip surgeries as well as the birth of her son Cole. In her first two games back in action, the junior guard stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game. With 19 threes this season, Cameron passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books and after knocking down her first threes in Pac-10 play with five more over the weekend in Washington, as she now stands all alone in the No. 3 all-time slot with 114 career 3-pointers.
Greatly missed from the USC lineup last season was point guard Camille LeNoir, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Following surgery, the junior returned to the floor this season as a redshirt junior, and wasted little time getting right back to her impressive ways on court. She's set up camp as USC's second leading scorer this season, averaging 10.9 points, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Against Cal State Fullerton, LeNoir matched Trojan great Cheryl Miller's 100 percent effort on the floor from 1985, coming one short of Miller's 10-of-10 outing by going 9-for-9 and finishing with a season-high 19 points. LeNoir also served up a career-high eight assists in USC's Pac-10 opener against Arizona, and recently knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers in USC's upset win over then-No. 2 Stanford. She ranks No. 7 all-time at USC in career threes with 100.
Nadia Parker made herself well at home in the Bahamas, serving up 28 points and 18 rebounds in the two games on her way to her first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The junior center had a career day in USC's comeback win over Virginia Tech, tallying career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds (also her first career double-double) and a shooting percentage of 9-of-11 (.818) to help spark USC to victory. She's since recorded two more double-doubles, grabbing back-to-back efforts at the Women of Troy Classic. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (12.0 ppg) and top rebounder (6.6 rpg). She hit double figures in 11 of USC's 17 games to date.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
The first thing fans and followers will notice about this season's pack of Women of Troy is a group of faces who haven't quite been on the forefront of the Trojan lineup in a while. Three players who redshirted last season due to injuries et al are back in the mix. Standout point guard Camille LeNoir has healed up following hip surgery; Markisha Lea steps back in as a senior with cartilage intact in her knee; Brynn Cameron sustained her second hip surgery and gave birth to her first child on her way back to the court. Further balancing out the departure of five 2007 graduates are a pair of seniors who have extended their Trojan careers in unique ways. Kate Henderson and Allison Jaskowiak were freshmen together in 2003-04. Henderson wound up transferring after that season, but has since returned to USC and has worked her way back into the picture. Jaskowiak was granted a medical redshirt for that freshman season and has thus received another season of eligibility that allows her to return for her final year on the Trojan roster. With LeNoir, Cameron and Jaskowiak alone back on the court, USC taps back into the talent pool that helped spark the Women of Troy's resurgence to the NCAA Tournament scene with back-to-back postseason runs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Known for their stifling defense, USC seniors Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks have also come up strong on the offensive end this season. Jelks averaged 2.6 points per game last season as a junior, and has upped her tally to 4.9 ppg so far this season to help in USC's balanced offensive effort. Jaskowiak has also increased her offensive role, going from 3.1 ppg last season to 3.6 this year. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed 10 to better last year's mark, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 13 so far.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake completely loose of the Women of Troy yet. USC will have two players sidelined this season with torn ACLs. For redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos -- considered the best player in the country coming out of high school in 2006 -- it is an all-too-familiar situation. Gemelos tore her ACL in her final high school game before coming to USC, redshirting her first season. She then reinjured the same knee in the offseason, bringing up a second surgery and pushing the highly anticipated guard's return to the floor back further. True freshman Stefanie Gilbreath endured the same injury just before the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game, leaving the Trojans short another outstanding newcomer for the 2007-08 season.
Lined up to add a depth charge to the backcourt is transfer Heather 'Ollie' Oliver, a member of the Australian Under-21 National Team, which won silver at the U-21 Women's World Championships this summer. She brings a smooth outside shot as well as stifling defensive abilities to the Trojan roster. She tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18, and saw her first starts in the past three games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.1 points per game after setting a new career high with 16 points against Washington State ¬-- all 16 came in the second half. She has posted double-digit efforts in six of the past eight games.
USC boasts a couple of different looks to the point this season, as 5-6 junior floor general Camille LeNoir returns to action after a year out to heal from hip surgery. She's complimented by 6-2 sophomore Hailey Dunham. Despite the height difference, the pair combine forces well in running the Trojans offense, each bringing their own spark to the offense to keep opposing defenses on their toes. LeNoir had her return to the court this season delayed a week, but when the junior point guard hit the floor for her first game against Colorado on Nov. 18, she came out strong with nine points and three assists in the game. The Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham (82 pts, 43 asts) and LeNoir (164 pts, 60 asts) is averaging 15.7 points and 6.5 assists per game.
The Women of Troy welcome three new members to the Trojan family this season. Assistant coach Jody Wynn recently gave birth to her second daughter, Kaeli, in October 2007, and junior Brynn Cameron has her son, Cole, fresh off his first birthday. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
Sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock both have stepped up as key contributors in their second season at Troy. Both versatile players with ball-handling skills and a slick 3-point shot to go along with size and strength, the pair have picked up the pace on all accounts this year. Hughes and Medlock combined for 9.0 points per game last season, and are averaging 14.1 together this year. Hughes has upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she averages 7.7 ppg and has nailed 16 threes already. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 8.1 ppg and 5.7 rpg this season.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante carries the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year. Freshman guard Stefanie Gilbreath will redshirt following offseason knee surgery. LaPlante towers as the tallest Trojan on the roster, setting up the 6-5 freshman to see significant time in the paint this year. She tallied her first points as a Trojan in USC's win over Colorado on Nov. 18, putting in two points and pulling down six rebounds for the Women of Troy. LaPlante now averages 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year. Six players who saw time as starters return for 2007-08 -- sophomores Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock and seniors Nicole Berberet, Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks. This year USC is on a similar page, with nine different players getting at least one starting nod, as the Trojans have utilized seven different starting lineups.
The Women of Troy have been slotted at No. 4 in the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Coaches Poll and the Media Poll. The Trojans received 56 points in the coaches poll to come in behind top pick and defending conference champ Stanford (79 points), No. 2 Arizona State (71) and No. 3 pick California (68). Sitting below the Trojans in fifth is UCLA with 44 points.
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