USC Women Up Against Bay Area's Ranked Teams
Jan. 29, 2008
USC takes a three-game winning streak into its Bay Area road trip this week, as the Trojans (13-7, 6-3 Pac-10) come up against a pair of ranked squads. USC first pays a visit to No. 7 Stanford (17-3, 7-2) for a 7 p.m. clash on Thursday (Jan. 31) in Palo Alto. Two days later, USC will face No. 9 California (17-3, 8-1) in a 2 p.m. game on Saturday (Feb. 2) in Berkeley.
Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through Gametracker will be available online for both games at www.usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in this week's polls, while Stanford ranks No. 7 in both polls, and Cal ranks No. 9 according to USA Today/ESPN and is No. 10 in the AP poll.
USC had two more staunch defensive outings at the Galen Center as the Trojans swept at home to improve their home record to 9-1 on the season. Two Trojans hit double figures en route to a 59-47 win over Oregon State on Thursday night, led by a career-high 13 points from Kari LaPlante and 10 points from Hailey Dunham, while Nadia Parker pulled down 10 rebounds. USC saw its seventh different leading scorer emerge this season in LaPlante's career-high 13 points - all of which came in the second half. Also hitting a career best on the night was point guard Camille LeNoir, who ripped down nine rebounds. She also tallied five assists for the Trojans. Leading scorers LaPlante and Dunham entered the game averaging a combined 8.1 points per game, but together garnered 23 points for the Trojans in tonight's Pac-10 win. USC shot 44 percent from the floor in the game, with all three 3-pointers coming from the hands from Brynn Cameron. OSU finished with a 33 percent shooting effort. USC tacked up a season-high of seven blocks - three of which came from Parker - and also were able to up their efforts on the boards in the game, outrebounding their opponents for the first time in eight games by snagging 35 boards to the Beavers' 25. The 12-point win was USC's largest margin of victory since a 78-45 win over Grambling State on Dec. 21, as the Trojans previous five wins were single-digit decisions. On Saturday afternoon, USC took down Oregon 46-42 in the lowest-scoring game between the two schools in series history. USC was led by a game-high 14 points from LeNoir, who was the only Trojan to hit a 3-pointer on the day as USC finished 13 percent from 3-point range and shot 32 percent from the floor in the game. With Parker plagued with foul trouble, freshman LaPlante came up big with her second straight double-digit effort, getting all 10 of her points during the second half. Hailey Dunham scored eight for USC after knocking down two big free throws with 8 seconds left in the game to boost the Trojans to their comeback win. Dunham also added a career-high eight rebounds. After trailing the majority of the game and sitting in an 11-point hole early in the second half, USC went on an 11-0 run to tie up the game. The Trojans' first lead of the half wouldn't come until 7 minutes to go when LeNoir nailed a jumper, but Oregon would get no closer from there as the Ducks were held to a season-low 42 points.
The No. 7 Cardinal are 17-3 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 play after beating conference leader Cal 72-52 last week. Candice Wiggins leads Stanford in scoring with 18.1 points per game. Head coach Tara Vanderveer is in her 22nd season at Stanford, which reached the NCAA Second Round, finishing 29-5 overall after placing first in the Pac-10 at 17-1. USC is 19-39 all-time against Stanford after snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinal with a 73-72 win on Jan. 6 at the Galen Center.
The No. 9 Bears are 17-3 overall and lead the Pac-10 with an 8-1 record after losing its first conference game with a 72-52 loss to Stanford last week. Ashley Walker leads Cal with 16.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Head coach Joanne Boyle is in her third season at Cal, which reached the NCAA First Round last season and finished 23-9 overall, taking third in the Pac-10 at 12-6. USC is 31-18 all-time against the Bears, after losing its fifth straight game to Cal in a 57-52 defeat on Jan. 4. USC last won in a 103-69 decision at home in 2005.
In addition to the loss of redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and true freshman Stephanie Gilbreath following offseason knee surgeries, sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock are sidelined indefinitely by injuries as of Jan. 21. Gemelos, Gilbreath and Medlock all came to USC as McDonald's All-Americans, and Hughes has participated at the U.S. Under-20 National Team trials.
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. Now with 27 threes this season after a trio vs. OSU on Thursday, Cameron now stands all alone in the No. 3 all-time slot with 118 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, 3.9 assists and 1.9 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. With two more threes against Oregon, LeNoir passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books to now rank No. 6 all-time at USC in career threes with 104.
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 now recorded a total of four double-doubles, most recently grabbing 10 rebounds and adding 13 points in USC's home win over UCLA. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (11.4 ppg) and top rebounder (6.8 rpg). She's hit double figures in 12 of USC's 21 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 4.7 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 3.5 this year while also standing out as USC's top free-throw shooter with a .850 effort. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed 11 to better last year's mark of seven, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 13 so far to beat last year's 11.
Adding a serious 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 has now become a mainstay in the starting lineup, starting the past 11 games. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.4 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 seven of the past 11 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 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 (105 pts, 47 asts) and LeNoir (196 pts, 71 asts) is averaging 16.2 points and 6.3 assists per game.
DUNHAM DOES IT ALL
With fellow sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock out of the lineup with injuries, Hailey Dunham has had to expand her role from back-up point guard to a flexible guard/forward that has put the sophomore in the 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots on the court for the Women of Troy. So far so good, as the flexible 6-2 Dunham has shown her versatility in the past week with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and a 4-for-4 free-throw effort in the past two games for the Trojans.
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. After a recent career night against OSU where she led USC with 13 points and another double-figure outing against Oregon, LaPlante now averages 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds 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, who turned 1 in November. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
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.
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.