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Grand Slam Weekend

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Having lost the first game of the series and locked in a one-run battle, senior A.J. Ramirez belted a grand slam to turn USC baseball's fortunes around, galvanizing an 8-5 win on Friday followed by a 5-2 victory on Saturday. The Trojans took two out of three from No. 24 Arizona to improve to 9-9 in Pac-12 play, moving into a fifth place tie in the conference standings.

Click here for the series recap.

Ramirez now leads USC with 8 home runs and 35 RBI, but Timmy Robinson (7 HR and 34 RBI) and Jeremy Martinez (5 HR and 34 RBI) follow closely behind. Robinson delivered a clutch two-run single before Ramirez's grand slam, and Martinez keyed USC's offense with three hits in Saturday's win.

USC has another three-game home series this week to keep the momentum going. The Trojans will host Washington on Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Dedeaux Field.


Carrying the 6

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

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When DeMar DeRozan was drafted by the Toronto Raptors out of USC with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, he was joining a team that had won just 33 games the year before. After winning 22 games in his only season with the Trojans, joining a losing franchise was an adjustment in itself.

In the seven years since, DeRozan has seen franchise players Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani leave, passing the torch onto No. 10. DeRozan has felt the pressure of an entire city, and in fact an entire country, that had not won a playoff series since 2001.

After losing a heartbreaking Game 7 at home in 2014 to the Brooklyn Nets and an embarrassing sweep to the Washington Wizards last year, 2016 was more or less "now or never" for Toronto and DeRozan.

Following an impressive franchise-record 56 wins, and a back-and-forth battle with Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, DeRozan finally helped gift the city of Toronto a playoff series victory. On Sunday, the Raptors clinched the series with an 89-84 win at home, much in thanks to the USC alum's game-high 30 points.

DeRozan played a game-high 40 minutes for Toronto and was all over the box score with five rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks. With the Miami Heat up next for DeRozan and "the 6," a lot more responsibility will fall on his shoulders as Toronto chases their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2001.

Trojans Finish Fifth

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC_Golf_North_rach_7033.jpgThe 2016 Pac-12 Championships concluded this weekend for USC's men's golf, as the Trojans placed fifth. No. 2 USC came into the fourth round 2-over and solidly in third place. They trailed just Stanford and California heading into the final round of play on Sunday in Utah.

Despite a strong showing through three rounds, the Trojans hit some rough patches on Sunday, but were able to finish in the Top 5. Rico Hoey led the way, finishing the weekend at even par 284 (70-70-72-72), which landed him in a tie for 11th.

There was another bright spot for the Trojans as UCLA finished behind them in the Pac-12 Tournament,  collecting 10 points in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup, which USC officially clinched this weekend.

With the Pac-12 Championships over, the Trojans will turn their attention to the NCAA Regional Championships in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Regional Championships will take place May 16-18 at a location to be determined later.

Making History

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One year ago today, the USC women's lacrosse team awaited its postseason fate, hoping for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history after finishing second in the 2015 MPSF Tournament. Their eventual bid and first round victory were momentous for a program just three years in existence. 

One year later, the Women of Troy have surpassed all expectations once again, winning the program's first-ever MPSF Title on Sunday and extending their undefeated streak to 19 games to earn an automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With an 8-5 win over Stanford, No. 5 USC tied the conference record for most wins in a single season and became the first team in league history to finish both the regular season and MPSF Tournament undefeated. 


In another offensive onslaught, the Women of Troy outshot the Cardinal, 27-16, led by junior attacked Michaela Michael who scored her 25th hat trick of her career with five draw controls. MPSF Player of the Year senior captain Courtney Tarleton caused two turnovers en route to earning tournament MVP honors. Tarleton, along with Caroline deLyra, Kelsey Dryer and Amanda Johansen, also secured a spot on the MPSF All-Tournament team.

The Women of Troy now wait, once again, to hear the specifics on their NCAA postseason plans, but this time their appearance in the 26-team tournament is guaranteed. Selections will be announced on NCAA.com on Sunday, May 8 at 6 p.m. PT. The tournament begins the weekend of May 13 and will conclude the weekend of May 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more all postseason long. 

Check out the highlights from the 2016 MPSF Championship game...

Trophies

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

For the fourth time in program history, USC's women's water polo captured the MPSF crown and continued its impressive, undefeated season with an 8-5 comeback win against Stanford on Sunday. The Women of Troy now stand at an incredible 23-0 this year.

Click here for the complete recap.

Despite falling behind by two goals early, USC showed composure and resilience, answering Stanford's every punch. As the game remained tight in the fourth period, the Trojans scored four consecutive goals to pull away late and put the championship to bed.

Junior Avery Peterson and sophomore Brianna Daboub carried the Women of Troy with three goals each, but it was sophomore Hayley McKelvey who scored the most decisive goal. With the Trojans on a big run, McKelvey gave USC a 7-4 advantage and they never looked back.

To partner the strong showing on the offensive side of the ball, the Women of Troy saw off several 6-on-5 chances for Stanford behind 12 saves from freshman goalie Amanda Longan.

Now with the MPSF crown theirs, the Women of Troy will await the NCAA Tournament bracket, which will be announced later today.

Boat Raced

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"All were merged into one smoothly working machine; they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades." - Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat

No. 12 USC women's rowing dominated No. 20 UCLA in the annual Crosstown Rowdown, sweeping the competition for the second time (2004) and extending the program's perfect record over the Bruins to 15-0.

"All four boats performed very well, up to their potential," said head coach Zenon Babraj. "They raised up to the occasion and performed fantastically."

Click here for the recap.

The Trojans' varsity eight continued its own streak in the dual having never lost in the 15 head-to-head meetings. USC's top boat blew away UCLA's best by eight seconds.

Click here for the video highlights and recap.

The Women of Troy now begin preparations for the Pac-12 Championships set for Sunday, May 15, at Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the Dual Meet:


Pride of the Pac-12

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The Women of Troy are making history in the first year that both the Pac-12 Conference and NCAA are officially sponsoring collegiate beach volleyball. The No. 1 Trojans cemented themselves as the first-ever beach volleyball Pac-12 Champions on Sunday, defeating No. 6 Arizona in a 3-0 sweep at Merle Norman Stadium.


After winning the conference's first-ever pairs crown on Friday, USC's All-American duo of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes continued what has been a remarkable run dating back to 2015, in extending their match winning streak to 69 in team play on Sunday. The pair won its 44th match of the season to lead the Trojans to the team title and were named to the first-ever All-Tournament Team for their outstanding performance. 

The team victory was the 26th-straight for the Women of Troy who are now preparing to defend their national title as the No. 2 seed in the inaugural NCAA Championships held in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The action begins on Friday at 9 a.m. PT against seventh-seeded Georgia State. Live coverage will be provided on TruTV on both Friday and Saturday. The championship round will air on TBS on Sunday at 11 a.m. 

Be sure to follow @USCBeach for behind-the-scenes access of the Trojans' upcoming weekend!

Click here to watch Hughes and Claes' breakdown of the Pac-12 Championship


Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday's historic match...

Nobody Does It Better

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Four new members were added this weekend to the USC to the NFL Draft fraternity as Su'a Cravens (2nd round to Washington), Max Tuerk (3rd round to San Diego), Cody Kessler (3rd round to Cleveland) and Kevon Seymour (6th round to Buffalo) saw their dreams come true.

The Trojans remain on top of the all-time leaderboards for 1st round picks, total draft picks and No. 1 overall selections.

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2016 NFL Draft: Kevon Seymour

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Seymour-Draft.JPGUSC CB Kevon Seymour was the only Trojan taken on Day 3 of the NFL Draft when the Buffalo Bills selected him in the 6th round (218th overall).

He will join some familiar faces in Buffalo, including former USC teammates, WR Robert Woods (drafted by the Bills in 2013) and CB Nickell Robey, as well as Buffalo DC Dennis Thurman and DB coach Tim McDonald, who were All-Americans as Trojans.

2016 NFL Draft: Cody Kessler

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Kessler-Draft2.JPGUSC QB Cody Kessler surged up to the Cleveland Browns in the 3rd round, becoming the 93rd overall pick of the NFL Draft. He is the highest drafted USC quarterback since Mark Sanchez went 5th overall in 2009.

Kessler is the seventh Trojan QB taken in the NFL Draft since 2003. No other school has produced more than four in that time period.

The Browns have enjoyed picking Trojans lately as Cleveland selected LB Hayes Pullard (now in Jacksonville) and TE Randall Telfer last year. They also drafted TE Jordan Cameron (now in Miami) back in 2011.

With three total picks in the first three rounds, USC is enjoying its most productive start to an NFL Draft since 2011.