USC Women Face No. 8 Duke, Harvard in Classic at Galen

Dec. 16, 2008

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USC brings a trio of out-of-state teams to town this weekend for the third annual Women of Troy Basketball Classic at the Galen Center. Coming to Troy for the competition are Duke, Harvard and Siena -- all set for action to begin on Friday (Dec. 19). After a 4:45 p.m. clash between Harvard (6-4) and Siena (1-7), the host Trojans (5-3) go up against No. 8 Duke (6-1) in an 8 p.m. game that will be televised by Fox Sports. On Saturday (Dec. 20), USC faces Harvard at 4:45 p.m., and Duke and Siena wrap up the action with a 7 p.m. game.

Bring a toy worth at least $10 on Friday to donate to the Toy Drive, and you and a friend get in free!

This weekend's games will be broadcast live through Trojans All-Access at with live video along with audio provided by Pete Arbogast and Jon Horn. Live stats through GameTracker also will be available online through the women's basketball page at Friday's USC-Duke game will be televised live by Fox Sports, with Paul Sunderland doing play-by-play and Mary Murphy doing color for the broadcast.

USC is unranked in the national polls this week. Duke is ranked No. 8 this week according to AP and is No. 12 in the USA Today poll. Harvard and Siena are both unranked.

The No. 8 Blue Devils are 6-1 as they enter Tuesday's game against No. 3 Stanford. Chante Black leads Duke with 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Joanne P. McCallie is in her second year as head coach at Duke. The Blue Devils return nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's team, which went 25-10 overall, finishing third in the ACC and reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. USC is 0-2 all-time against Duke, last meeting the Blue Devils in the 2006 NCAA Second Round in Norfolk, Va., where Duke posted an 85-51 win over the Trojans.

The Crimson are 6-4 overall as they enter a game at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday. Emma Markley leads Harvard with 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Kathy Delaney Smith is in her 27th season as head coach at Harvard. The Crimson return 10 letterwinners and four starters from last season's team, which went 18-11 overall and tied for first in the Ivy League at 11-3. USC and Harvard have met just once before with USC claiming a 74-58 victory over Harvard in Los Angeles during the 2004-05 season.

USC will be without two McDonald's All-Americans once again following season-ending knee injuries sustained by both Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath. Nadia Parker (traffic accident) and Hailey Dunham (hand) missed the first two games, but both returned to full competition on Nov. 24.

USC rebounded nicely last weekend by answering two tight losses from the previous week with a blowout of Montana State. The Trojans put together another well-rounded effort at the Galen Center en route to an 82-61 victory over the visiting Bobcats. The Women of Troy had five players finish in double figures, receiving a career- and game-high 13 points from Hailey Dunham along with 12-point nights from Camille LeNoir, Ashley Corral and Nadia Parker and a 10-point game from Aarika Hughes. USC trailed by seven during the first half, but worked quickly back into control. Leading by six at the half, the Trojans shot 49 percent in the second half and got up by 20 entering the final five minutes of play. Fouls stalled out the final stretches of both halves, with three Bobcats fouling out in the game. Montana State nailed nine 3-pointers in the game, while USC hit five, including three from Corral. The Trojans ended the game shooting 44 percent to MSU's 34 percent, and outrebounded the Bobcats 51-28, ending up one board shy of a season high.

After averaging 36.3 rebounds per game last season, USC has been bent on the boards this year. The Trojans have hit a season-high 51 rebounds in two different games to now outrebound their opponents 341-275 so far, upping their average on the boards to 42.6 per game, led by Aarika Hughes' 7.3 rpg.

Camille LeNoir broke the 1,000-point mark on Nov. 16, 2008 at the Wolfpack Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. Coming into the weekend and the season, LeNoir had recorded 979 points in a USC uniform. With her 13-point performance against Charlotte on Nov. 15, LeNoir was just eight points from the achievement with 992 points. The next day against Milwaukee, LeNoir tacked up 15 points, putting herself over the barrier at 1,007 points, where she is in elite company as one of only 21 Trojans to achieve the 1,000-point feat. Her current 1,067 points ranks her No. 19 all-time in career scoring at USC -- just seven points away from moving up to No. 18. She is one of four Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in 11.0 ppg. What's more, with seven assists last week against Montana State, LeNoir took over the No. 7 all-time slot for career assists (367).

Plagued by foot problems through her first two seasons at USC, junior guard/forward Aarika Hughes stepped up big-time for the Trojans in the first two games of the year at the Wolfpack Invitational. With center Nadia Parker on the sidelines coming back from a traffic accident, Hughes went big on the boards and hauled in her first double-digit rebounding efforts of her career. She had 11 rebounds in game one and followed that with 13 on day two to lead all players on the boards and earn her first All-Tournament Team honors of her USC career. She has continued to hold court on the boards, leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per game.

In just her third game as a Trojan, freshman guard Ashley Corral solidified a place for herself in USC history, hitting a program-record six 3-pointers in a single game to help lift USC to a win at Pepperdine on Nov. 24. Teammate and fellow sharpshooter Brynn Cameron was the last to hit six, having done so in 2005. With 22 threes to date, Corral is averaging 2.75 per game to currently rank second in the Pac-10.

Seniors Brynn Cameron and Camille LeNoir have both battled through season-ending hip surgeries as they now enter their final seasons at Troy along with senior center Nadia Parker. Together, Cameron, LeNoir and Parker stand as the three Women of Troy who have had a taste of the NCAA Tournament. Cameron and LeNoir were freshmen when the Trojans snapped a seven-year absence from the postseason in Mark Trakh's first season at Troy. Parker joined in as a freshman in the 2005-06 season when USC made it back-to-back NCAA appearances. Now all on the same track to graduation, the two guards and center are joined by former walk-on Nicole Berberet as Trakh's senior class of talent and leadership. Cameron, LeNoir and Parker have all garnered All-Pac-10 honors during their USC careers to date.

Each junior has a different story to tell, but all four have found a home at USC. Hailey Dunham (Los Angeles, Calif.), Jacki Gemelos (Stockton, Calif.) and Aarika Hughes (Beaverton Ore.) all entered Troy as freshmen in 2006 along with injury redshirt Jacki Gemelos, while Heather Oliver (Victoria, Australia) and Daniela Roark (Los Altos, Calif.) joined the team last year as transfers. Dunham and Hughes both are playing in their third season for the Trojans; Oliver is settling into her second year of action; and Roark is eligible for competition this year after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. All together, the USC junior class has combined to score 708 points and accumulated 385 rebounds.

Added incentive for a strong regular season is the promise of hosting both the Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds at USC's Galen Center. The Galen Center became the new home to the Women of Troy in 2006, and USC has won 22 of 29 games on its home court since then. USC will host the Pac-10 Tournament from March 12-15, and has NCAA First and Second Round games set for March 21 and 23 at the Galen Center.

Six of USC's top seven scorers are back for more this season, including the Trojans' top three point producers Brynn Cameron, Camille LeNoir and Heather Oliver. All told, USC returns those three starters along with Cameron -- who matched LeNoir with 40 threes last year -- sophomore center Kari LaPlante and versatile juniors Hailey Dunham and Aarika Hughes as key contributors from the 2007-08 squad.

USC boasts a solid group of first-year additions to the gameplan. Guard Daniela Roark makes her debut this season after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. And three true freshmen hit the hardwood at Troy as well. Two of those newcomers were teammates as McDonald's All-Americans -- and opponents as first- and second-place finishers in the national 3-point shootout following the game. Three-point champ Ashley Corral teams back up with fellow All-American Briana Gilbreath as fast fits in the USC backcourt as freshmen, along with 6-3 freshman forward Michelle Jenkins. Gilbreath stands as USC's leading scorer to date, averaging 11.5 ppg, while Corral has nailed a team-high 22 threes so far and is averaging the team's second-best scoring mark of 11.3 ppg.

Until a week before the season began, there were two additional shining Trojan stars set to make their long-awaited debuts at Troy. McDonald's All-Americans Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath came to USC a year apart, but both now remain sidelined by repeat knee injuries. Gilbreath's redshirt freshman season has been stalled by a second tear to her right ACL, and Gemelos will now miss a third consecutive season at USC after tearing her ACL and cartilage in her left knee -- this after back-to-back tears in her right knee kept her off the court for her first two years at Troy.

Freshman Ashley Corral gathered some valuable international experience this summer, winning gold as a starter with Team USA at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championships in Argentina. The Trojan was the United States' top scorer against Puerto Rico, and finished the tournament leading her team in minutes played.

In 2008-09, the Trojans played out 12 games that were decided by five or fewer points. One of those nailbiters turned out to be one of the most exciting wins by the Women of Troy in years, as USC edged No. 2 Stanford 73-72 for its first win over the Cardinal since 2004. Stanford would go on to reach the NCAA championship game, but the Trojans would fall short of the postseason after the injury bug bit again late in the season, taking top scorer and rebounder Parker out of the picture with a knee injury during the final week of the regular season. USC finished 17-13 overall on the year after earning the No. 4 seed into the Pac-10 Tournament with a 10-8 conference mark.

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