USC Women All Set For Arizona Visit

Jan. 13, 2009

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USC packs up for its first real Pac-10 road trip of the year this week with a swing through the Arizona schools. The Trojans (8-6, 2-1 Pac-10) first squares off against Arizona (7-8, 0-4) with a 7 p.m. MT matchup on Thursday (Jan. 15) in Tucson. Two days later, USC touches down in Tempe to face Arizona State (10-6, 2-2) at 4 p.m. MT on Saturday (Jan. 17) in a game televised by Fox Sports.

Live audio, broadcast by Jon Horn, as well as live stats through GameTracker will be available online for both games this week through the women’s basketball page at  Saturday’s game at Arizona State will be televised by Fox Sports.

USC is unranked in the national polls this week. Arizona and Arizona State both also are unranked, although ASU received votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

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. Dunham suffered a foot injury on Jan. 11 vs. UCLA and is questionable for competition this week in Arizona.

The Wildcats are 7-8 overall and 0-4 in Pac-10 play after losing 68-55 to Oregon and 68-43 to Oregon State last week. Ify Ibekwe leads Arizona with 15.7 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Niya Butts is in her first season as head coach at Arizona. The Wildcats return five letterwinners and four starters from last year’s team, which went 10-20 overall and finished eighth in the Pac-10 at 4-14.
USC is 44-17 all-time against Arizona after having a six-game win streak against the Wildcats snapped with a 64-62 Arizona win last year at the Galen Center. USC and Arizona split Pac-10 games last season with a 77-70 USC win on the road before the home loss in the last week of the regular season.

The Sun Devils are 10-6 overall and 2-2 in Pac-10 play after getting a 61-36 win over Oregon State and beating Oregon 81-53 last week. Dymond Simon and Briann January lead ASU in scoring with 12.5 points per game each. Charli Turner-Thorne is in her 13th season as head coach at ASU. The Sun Devils return 10 letterwinners and three starters from last season’s team, which reached the NCAA Second Round, finishing 22-11 overall and placing fourth in the Pac-10 at 14-4.
USC 47-14 all-time against ASU, although the Sun Devils have won the past five meetings between the team. ASU got a Pac-10 sweep last season with a 66-63 win in Tempe and a 65-57 win at the Galen Center.

USC took its first loss at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion since 2004 on Sunday afternoon, falling 87-75 to the Bruins in the teams’ first Pac-10 clash of the year. The Trojans got a season- and game-high 20 points from Camille LeNoir along with 16 from Ashley Corral and 13 from Nadia Parker, but UCLA won out on the boards to help key the Bruins’ advantage down the stretch. Out-rebounded 55-38 in the game and 23-9 on the offensive boards, USC moved to 8-6 overall and 2-1 in Pac-10 play with the loss. Center Parker was sidelined after four minutes of play with an ankle injury, leaving the Trojans short-handed on the boards. The Bruins took advantage of it in the first half, out-rebounding USC 33-22 in the half and getting 16 points off of second-chances thanks to 15 Bruin offensive boards. Parker would return for the second half, while Hailey Dunham would not be back after a foot injury took her out of the game after six minutes of play. USC had a strong effort from the floor with a 44-percent outing compared to a 37-percent effort by the Bruins, but it was 28 UCLA points off second chances that was crucial in giving the Bruins the edge. UCLA also hit eight 3-pointers - four from Doreena Campbell, who finished with 20 points - for a slight edge over USC’s six threes hit in the game.

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 and outrebounded opponents in 11 games. In total, USC has outrebounded opponents 580-508 so far, upping its average on the boards to 41.4 per game, led by Nadia Parker’s 6.2 and Aarika Hughes’ 6.1 rpg.

Senior guard Brynn Cameron now hit double digits in four of the past six games, hitting 15 threes across those same six games to now average 8.4 points per game. Now 17-of-18 (.944) from the free-throw line on the year, Cameron earned her first career Pac-10 Player of the Week award on Jan. 5 after putting in 13 points in a Pac-10 opening win over Oregon and then dumping in four more 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 20 points in a win over Oregon State. Against the Beavers, Cameron had set a new season high by halftime, going 7-of-8 from the floor (4-of-5 from 3-point range) to hold 18 points after the first half. She currently ranks No. 2 all-time in career 3-pointers with 153 to trail leader Shay Murphy’s 181.

Camille LeNoir
broke the 1,000-point mark on Nov. 16, 2008 at the Wolfpack Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. Coming into that 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. She has since leapfrogged into the No. 16 all-time slot in career scoring, now holding 1,131 points. LeNoir is one of four Trojans averaging double figures to date, putting in 10.9 ppg. What’s more, with five assists against Oregon on Jan. 2, LeNoir passed up Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time career assists list to take over the No. 6 slot for career assists. LeNoir has now served up 391 assists in her time as a Trojan.

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, and now averages 6.1 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. She has tallied a team-high 28 threes to date, and enters the weekend averaging 2.0 per game to rank fifth in the Pac-10 just ahead of Cameron at No. 7 with 1.8.

Seniors Brynn Cameron and Camille LeNoir have both battled through season-ending hip surgeries as they now engage in 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, Jacki Gemelos and Aarika Hughes all entered Troy as freshmen in 2006, while Heather Oliver and Daniela Roark 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. Altogether, the USC junior class has combined to score 829 points and accumulated 469 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. Selected to the Women of Troy Classic All-Tournament Team after setting a new career high with 22 points against Harvard, Gilbreath continues to stand as USC’s leading scorer to date, averaging 11.6 ppg. Meanwhile, Corral has nailed a team-high 28 threes so far and is averaging the team’s third-best scoring mark of 10.2 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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