Women's Basketball

    Feb. 2, 1998

    USC to Host Oregon Schools

    Trojans Set for Second Half of Pac-10 Season

    Washington photo
    Tiffany Washington

    LOS ANGELES -- The USC women's basketball team (8-10 overall, 3-6 in the Pacific-10 Conference), under first-year head coach Chris Gobrecht and coming off an emotional trip to Washington that saw a split for the weekend and Gobrecht's return to her old stomping grounds in Seattle, begins the second half of the conference season this week. USC hosts Oregon State (6-12, 1-8) on Friday (Feb. 6) at 7 p.m. and then welcomes Oregon (11-6, 7-2) on Sunday (Feb. 8) at 2 p.m. Despite coming off of a 20-9 season, the USC team Gobrecht inherited lost a deep senior class and has suffered through a tremendous amount of injuries this season. USC, which has had 4 players miss a combined 51 games and another give up the sport before the season began, hoped to be healthy by the beginning of the Pac-10 season, but a variety of ailments has kept the team banged up as it passes the midway point of the conference schedule. Despite the problems, Gobrecht has the shorthanded Women of Troy among the league's top defensive teams in her first year back in the Pac-10.

    TELEVISION -- The USC-Oregon game on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. will be broadcast live by FOX Sports Net. Paul Sunderland and Tammy Blackburn will call the action.

    RANKINGS -- USC, Oregon State and Oregon are not ranked.

    OREGON STATE -- The Beavers, under third-year coach Judy Spoelstra, opened the season 5-2 but have lost 10 of their last 11 games, the only win coming against USC in a 57-52 victory on Jan. 10 in Corvallis. Senior guards Monica Watts and Nicole McAllister lead Oregon State with 12.8 and 10.2 points per game, respectively, the latter also leading the team in steals (32) and assists (53). Sophomore center Sissel Pierce is averaging 9.8 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game. The Beavers are last in the conference in free throw percentage (.596) and turnover margin (-3.3) and are tied for eighth with USC in scoring offense (64.1). However, they do lead the Pac-10 in blocks (3.2) and are second in 3-point percentage defense (.275). USC is 20-7 against Oregon State but saw a 3-game winning streak snapped in Corvallis earlier this year on Jan. 10. The last time USC lost to Oregon State in Los Angeles was Jan. 5, 1995, 69-56.

    OREGON -- The Ducks, under fifth-year coach Jody Runge, have won 5 games in a row since opening the Pac-10 2-2. Oregon has been without the services of All-Pac-10 candidate Jenny Mowe, a 6-5 sophomore center who has missed most of the season with tendinitis in her knees. Taking up the slack was freshman forward Brianne Meharry, who was averaging 13.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game before being lost for the season with a knee injury. Senior guard Natalie Hughes is averaging a team-high 14.2 points per game and junior guard Lisa Bowyer is Oregon's leading long-range shooter and is 19-of-48 from behind the arc. The Ducks have the second-worst rebounding offense in the conference (34.5), better only than the Women of Troy. Oregon's 7.5 steals per game is a league low. USC has a 21-7 lead over Oregon in the all-time series, but lost in the first meeting this year, 79-65, in Eugene on Jan. 8. Last year, the Women of Troy beat the Ducks, 73-65, in Los Angeles. USC last lost to Oregon in Los Angeles on Feb. 29, 1996, 67-53.

    PROBABLE STARTERS:
    USC (8-10, 3-6)  
                            Pos.    Ht. Yr. PPG     RPG
    40  Tiffany Washington  F       6-2 So. 9.7     6.4
    22  Tashara Carter      F       6-0 Fr. 7.2     5.2
    30  Adrain Williams     C       6-4 Jr. 10.2    6.7
    20  Kiyoko Miller       G       5-8 So. 7.4     1.8**
    32  Kristin Clark       G       5-7 Jr. 16.4    2.9**
    
    Oregon State (6-12, 1-8) 
                            Pos.    Ht. Yr. PPG     RPG
    15  Monica Watts        F       5-9 Sr. 12.8    4.8
    44  Tanesha Wade        F       6-0 Jr. 5.6     3.7
    32  Sissell Pierce      C       6-4 So. 9.8     6.3
    11  Nicole McAllister   G       5-8 Sr. 10.2    2.9*
    13  Liz Barrett         G       5-6 So. 2.5     1.9
    
    Oregon (11-6, 7-2)   
                            Pos.    Ht.  Yr. PPG    RPG
    14  Nicole Strange      G/F     5-10 So. 5.2    2.6
    45  Sonja Curtis        F       6-2  Jr. 9.5    3.8
    40  Angelina Wolvert    F       6-3  Fr. 8.2    3.9
    10  Natalie Hughes      G       5-10 Sr. 14.2   3.3*
    11  Lisa Bowyer         G       5-8  Jr. 8.1    2.8
     *assist average  **steals average
    

    USC'S FIRST 1998 MEETING WITH THE OREGON SCHOOLS -- The Women of Troy, hampered by injuries and using only 8 players in each game, suffered a pair of tough road losses to Oregon and Oregon State in their first Pac-10 road trip of the year. They fell, 79-65, to the Ducks in Eugene on Jan. 8 and lost, 57-52, to the Beavers in Corvallis on Jan. 10. Against the Ducks, USC shot just 41.8 percent compared to Oregon's 52.7 percent. The game was tied, 27-27, with just more than 4 minutes left in the first half, but the Ducks went on a 15-6 run in the final minutes and took a 42-33 lead at the break. In the second half, USC couldn't get any closer than 7 points. Junior guard Kristin Clark and sophomore forward Tiffany Washington each had 19 points for the Women of Troy, but Oregon's Brianne Meharry had a career-high 24 points and 14 rebounds. USC looked like it might salvage a split out of the weekend, but fell victim to a late Oregon State comeback. The Women of Troy, paced by 17 points from junior center Adrain Williams and 11 points from Clark, led by as many as 14 points in the first half before taking a 30-20 lead into the break. USC, however, made only 7-of-28 shots in the second half and the Beavers whittled the lead away. The Women of Troy still led, 52-50, with less than a minute to go when Oregon State center Sissel Pierce rebounded a missed shot and scored. She was also fouled on the play and made the consequent free throw, giving the Beavers a 53-52 lead -- their first of the game -- with 51.5 seconds to play. USC had 3 possessions after, but couldn't convert on any of them.

    LAST WEEK -- USC took a split out of the state of Washington, defeating Washington State, 57-48, on Jan. 29 before falling to Washington, 67-60, on Jan. 31, in a game that saw USC Coach Chris Gobrecht make her first return to the university where she coached from 1986-96. In the win over the Cougars, USC shot just 27.8 percent from the field but still earned its first road win of the year. The Women of Troy were aided by a 51-40 rebounding edge and only 14 turnovers to the Cougars' 24. Junior guard Kristin Clark scored a game-high 18 points, junior center Adrain Williams had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds and sophomore forward Tiffany Washington just missed a double-double with 8 points and 10 boards. USC took a 10-point lead in the second half before Washington State cut it to 5, 49-44, with 56 seconds left. The Women of Troy then hit 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute, as well as a last-second lay-up by Clark. In Seattle, Gobrecht returned to Hec Edmundson Pavilion to a standing ovation, but the hospitality ended there. The Huskies opened the game with an 8-0 run and led by as many as 17 points at 27-10 with 6:33 to go in the first half. USC responded with an 8-0 of its own and a Kiyoko Miller jumper with 1:03 left got USC to within 34-29 at the half. A 14-5 run to open the second half gave USC a 43-39 lead and the Women of Troy led 51-47 with 8:05 left to play. USC still led 56-55 with 3:37 to go and was tied at 58-58 a minute later. The Huskies, however, dominated the boards the rest of the way, outscoring the Women of Troy 9-2 to end the game.

    Usc Notes

    BEEN CAUGHT STEALING -- As a team, USC is averaging 11.6 steals per game, 1.4 better than the 1996-97 average of 10.2. Kristin Clark is second in the Pac-10 with 2.9 steals per game, while Tashara Carter is averaging 1.9 and Adrain Williams and Kiyoko Miller are averaging 1.8. Overall, USC has 208 steals compared to 147 for its opposition.

    TURNED OVER -- USC's turnovers are down from a year ago as it is averaging 18.4 turnovers, compared to 21.2 last season. USC is also forcing more turnovers. Opponents are averaging 25.1 this year compared to 22.7 last year. USC has had less turnovers than its opponents in 15 of 18 games and has 120 less on the season (331-451).

    IN OUR DEFENSE -- USC Coach Chris Gobrecht's defensive emphasis is already paying big dividends. USC's turnover margin (6.7) is tops in the Pac-10 and its scoring defense (65.0) is second. Its team steals (11.6) is fourth, but only a half a steal per game out of first.

    WHERE's the 3-point line? -- The Women of Troy have shackled opponents from long range. USC is allowing only 1.9 makes from 3-point land in 6.3 attempts per game. Last season opponents averaged 4.9 makes in 15.9 attempts. In fact, USC's Kristin Clark is 32-of-113 from 3-point land compared to 35-of-114 for USC's opponents. In the Pac-10, Clark and USC's opponents each have 19 treys.

    At the starting LINE -- Of USC's 11 players, 9 have started at least once. Kristin Clark is the only player who has started every game and she has started USC's last 47 games. In fact, because of injuries and other reasons, USC Coach Chris Gobrecht has been forced to use 8 different starting lineups in 18 games, although the lineup of guards Clark and Kiyoko Miller, forwards Tashara Carter and Tiffany Washington and center Adrain Williams has started 9 of the last 11 games. The only USC players not to have made a start this year are Jodi Parriott, who is out for the year after playing in only 2 games, and walk-on Rachel Whitlow, who has played in only 3 games.

    Wipe away that streak -- USC's loss to Stanford on Jan. 16 gave it a 4-game losing streak and put the Women of Troy in danger of losing its fifth in a row for the first time since dropping 7 straight in the 1989-90 season. Fortunately, USC downed Marianne Stanley-coached California on Jan. 18, snapping the streak. Interestingly, it was Stanley, in her first season as the coach of USC, who was at the helm during the 7-game loss streak, the worst in school history. The Women of Troy's 4-game Pac-10 loss streak was actually a dubious first. USC had lost 4 consecutive Pac-10 games before, but never in the same season. The last time USC lost 4 in a row at any time in the Pac-10 came in the last 2 games of the 1995 Pac-10 schedule and the first 2 games of the 1996 conference season. USC has never lost 5 Pac-10 games in a row.

    FIND THE MAP HOME -- USC is 1-5 on the road so far this year. USC is also 3-2 at neutral sites (4-6 overall) when away from USC. Before the Washington State victory, USC hadn't beat a team on its home court since downing Oregon State last year on March 1.

    Mirror, mirror -- When identical twin sisters Kristin and Kim Clark took the court for the opening tip against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 4, it marked the first time the pair started together in a Women of Troy lineup. The last time USC had twin sisters start together was April 1, 1984, when Pam and Paula McGee started together in the NCAA Championship game.

    PLAQUES AND SUCH -- Adrain Williams and Tiffany Washington earned All-Tournament honors at the Boise State Christmas Classic. Kristin Clark earned both Dial Soap Classic and Pac-10/Big East Challenge All-Tournament honors.

    COACH DOWN! -- USC's injury situation in 1997-98 has been severe. How severe? Well, not even Women of Troy coaches have been exempt. First-year assistant coach Stacy McIntyre, a former star at Kentucky, was scrimmaging in practice on Jan. 15 when she suffered a broken nose under the boards on a play with USC freshman forward Tashara Carter.

    JUICY LITTLE TIDBITS -- USC's .278 field goal percentage (20-of-72) in its win at Washington State (1/29) marked the Women of Troy's worst shooting effort ever in a victory. The previous worst was in a 47-45 win at Oregon (1/8/94) when USC shot .279 (19-of-68). In addition, the combined 36-point first-half total (18-18) from the Wazzou game is the lowest in school history. USC's 57-point win total against Washington State was also its lowest since beating UCLA, 56-55, on Feb. 4, 1995 . . . USC has had 5 different players reach double figures in rebounds in a game (Tiffany Washington, Adrain Williams, Whitney Houser, Tashara Carter and Adria Sneed), but none of them had more than 10 until Thursday (1/29) against Washington State, when Williams had 12 . . . USC has held opponents to 61 or less points 9 times this season . . . A sign of USC's injuries affecting its depth shows up in the amount of times Women of Troy players have fouled out this season. USC players have fouled out 14 times in 18 games compared to only 8 times all of last season . . . In USC's first 9 Pac-10 games, USC Coach Chris Gobrecht has used 9 players once, 8 players 5 times and 7 players 3 times . . . USC has yet to make more than 50 percent of its field goals in a game this year. Its high is .473 in a loss to Boise State (12/21) . . . Clark's 13 3-point attempts vs. UCLA (1/23) tied a USC record held by Karon Howell (2/3/89 vs. Oregon) . . . Clark has led USC in scoring in the last 5 games and in 13 of 18 games.

    THE WALKING WOUNDED -- The Women of Troy have been shorthanded since the preseason began, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, USC has had to deal with severe injury problems. Three projected starters -- junior forward/center Adrain Williams, junior forward Jodi Parriott and sophomore guard Erica Mashia -- were the biggest blows. Williams missed almost all of the preseason with a foot injury before getting in a few minutes in USC's final exhibition game. A projected starter, she was a reserve in USC's first 5 games, finally starting both games at the Boise State Christmas Classic (Dec. 20-21). She has started in 11 of the last 12 games. Parriott had knee surgery in July, missing all of the preseason. She saw a few minutes in 2 games this season, against Rutgers (Dec. 28) and Arizona State (Jan. 2), but the knee is still bothering her and she will miss the remainder of the season. Mashia, who missed all of last season with a hip injury, will miss the 1997-98 season as well with the same injury. Banged up but playing through the pain is starting junior guard Kristin Clark. She suffered a broken toe before USC's exhibition opener and broke her nose in practice. She is also playing with a knee sprain. Sister Kim Clark, a 2-sport athlete and a sophomore guard, started 5 of USC's first 7 games before a back injury kept her out of USC's last 11 games. She has since been cleared to play this weekend against the Oregon schools, ending 6 weeks of inactivity. Clark didn't even begin participating with the basketball team until the beginning of the regular season. One of the top women's soccer players on the West Coast, Clark didn't finish soccer season until November. Ironically, it was Kim, in her first basketball practice back, who broke Kristin's nose during a scrimmage. Fellow 2-sport athlete Antoinette Polk, a starter on the 1997 USC women's volleyball team who was the 1997 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, was a reserve guard last year. She has decided, however, to give up basketball to concentrate on volleyball. Sophomore guard Kiyoko Miller had to miss the San Diego State game because of a shoulder injury suffered against Coppin State, but has been able to play since then. She reaggravated the injury at Washington but has been able to play through the pain. Freshman forward Whitney Houser bruised her back in the second half of the Oregon game and only played 8 minutes, but was able to play against Oregon State. Sophomore forward Tiffany Washington suffered an ankle sprain against Rutgers and resprained the same ankle at Oregon State, but is still able to play. The latest victim is freshman forward Tashara Carter. She suffered a sprained toe at Washington State, but, with the aid of a splint, started at Washington and scored a career-high 17 points.

    CHRIS GOBRECHT -- Twenty years after graduating from USC in 1977 to embark on a coaching career, Chris Gobrecht has returned to campus to take the helm of the Women of Troy basketball program. Gobrecht, 42, who played basketball and volleyball while at USC, has been a head coach at the Division I level for 18 years, having guided programs at Cal State Fullerton (6 years), Washington (11) and Florida State (1). She was a 2-time Pacific-10 Coach of the Year (1987-88) with the Huskies and has amassed a 340-212 career mark. She reached the 300-victory plateau on Jan. 19, 1995, at the age of 39, making her one of the youngest coaches to do so in America. During her 11 years (1986-96) at Washington, she compiled a 243-89 (.732) record. Gobrecht, the winningest coach in Washington history, led the Huskies to 9 NCAA Tournament berths (including advancing to the regionals 4 times), 3 conference championships (1986-88-90) and 4 second-place league finishes. Her teams won at least 16 games each season (including getting 20 wins 8 times). Gobrecht comes to USC after spending the 1997 season at Florida State. She began the process of reconstructing a downtrodden Seminole program and finished with a 5-22 record.

    NEW STAFF -- Joining Gobrecht on the new staff are first-year coaches Stacy McIntyre (Kentucky '94), Erika Lang-Montgomery (Florida '95) and Traci Nemechek (Metropolitan State College at Denver '87).

    KRISTIN CLARK -- A feisty guard who can change the face of a game with her intense play, 1997-98 junior Kristin Clark (identical twin of USC guard Kim Clark) is in her second year as a starting guard for the Women of Troy. A solid ball-handler and outside shooter who is USC's leading scorer (16.4), Clark is equally deft at penetrating and dishing or pulling up for a 3-pointer. She is also valuable defensively as she is one of the quickest players on the team and can cause havoc in the backcourt. She is second in the Pac-10 in steals at 2.9 per game and has had at least 2 steals in 15 of 18 games. Clark, who has scored in double figures in 16 of 18 games, earned All-Tournament honors at both the Dial Soap Classic at Lawrence, Kan., and at the Pac-10/Big East Challenge at UCLA. She scored a career-high 30 points on 12-of-19 field goals and had 6 steals against Seton Hall (12/27). Clark had 25 points against UCLA (1/23), including 5 treys out of a school-record tying 13 attempts. She had 22 points, a career-high 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals against Arizona (1/4). She matched her career high of 8 rebounds and had 18 points at Washington State (1/29). She had 20 points vs. Stanford (1/16), 19 points at Oregon (1/8), 18 points at Washington (1/31) and 17 points and 5 steals vs. California (1/18). She opened the USC season against Long Beach State (11/25) by scoring a game-high 15 points to go along with 6 assists and 5 steals. She had 15 points again vs. San Diego State (12/13) to go along with 6 steals. She earned 1997 All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors last year, leading USC in steals (2.6) and tying for third in the Pac-10 in that category. Clark set a USC record by making 6-of-7 3-pointers against Washington State last season.

    ADRAIN WILLIAMS -- Adrain Williams, a junior center, has seen her role expand in 1997-98. The talented Williams can run the court like a guard and finish as well as anyone in the Pac-10. But she has been most valuable to the Women of Troy in the paint where her rebounding and scoring are helping take up much of the slack left by departed seniors Tina Thompson and Michelle Campbell. She spent all of the preseason recovering from a foot injury, but has started 12 of the last 13 games. She earned All-Tournament honors at the Boise State Christmas Classic. She scored a combined 32 points and had 19 rebounds, including a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds against Cal State Northridge (12/20). She had her second double-double vs. California (1/18) with 16 points and 10 rebounds and her third at Washington State (1/29) with 13 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Williams is USC's top shot-blocker (0.8) and rebounder (6.7) and the second-leading scorer (10.2). She scored 17 points and had 7 rebounds against Coppin State (12/7) in the Dial Soap Classic and had 17 points and 3 steals at Oregon State (1/10). In USC's opener against Long Beach State (11/25), Williams scored 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. She had 12 points vs. Arizona (1/4), had 10 points and 6 rebounds against Grambling State (12/6), had 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and a career-high 6 steals vs. Arizona State (1/2) and 10 points vs. UCLA (1/23). As a 1996-97 sophomore, Williams started 9 games for the Women of Troy before finishing the season as a valuable reserve. She finished fifth on the team in scoring (8.1) and third in rebounding (5.6). She posted the best game of her USC career against Colorado State (12/13) with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

    JODI PARRIOTT -- A versatile forward, 1997-98 junior Jodi Parriott is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Parriott, who missed all of the preseason rehabilitating from summer knee surgery, saw brief action in 2 games this season. She made her season debut against Rutgers (12/29), playing 7 minutes, making 1-of-2 shots (both 3-pointers) and getting a pair of steals. She also saw action in USC's Pac-10 opener vs. Arizona State (1/2), making 2-of-2 free throws in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, she still experienced problems with the knee and is forced to miss the rest of the year. After starting for most of the 1996-97 season, Parriott, who creates mismatches for defenses, was to start at either forward positions in 1997-98. USC's fourth-leading scorer in 1997, she started at small forward every game during the Pac-10 season and became a valuable contributor offensively and defensively for USC. She finished tied for third on the team with 14 3-pointers, but her 35.0% on treys (14-of-40) was good for second. Her 46.4 field goal percentage was third on the team (of those that attempted at least 100 shots) and she finished fourth in steals (1.0) and blocked shots (0.6).

    TIFFANY WASHINGTON -- One of the top young rebounders in the Pac-10, 1997-98 sophomore forward Tiffany Washington has seen her role increase as a force in the paint at both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. She is USC's third-leading scorer (9.7) and is second in rebounds (6.4), starting 16 of 18 games despite nursing a sprained ankle she suffered in the Rutgers game (12/28). She reaggravated the injury at Oregon State (1/10) but has still been able to play. Washington earned All-Tournament honors at the Boise State Christmas Classic, scoring a combined 37 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Against the Broncos in the tournament finale (12/21), she posted a career-high 21 points, which followed a 16-point, 9-rebound effort against Cal State Northridge (12/20). At Oregon (1/8), she scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Washington had her first double-double of the season against Grambling State (12/6) in the Dial Soap Classic, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. She had her second double-double against San Diego State (12/13) with 12 points and 10 rebounds. She made her first career start against Long Beach State (11/25), scoring 12 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and getting a career-high 6 steals. At Washington State (1/29), she had 8 points and 10 rebounds. Washington was named a 1996-97 Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention selection as a forward/center last season, averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per game.

    KIM CLARK -- A scrappy player who brings darting quickness and aggressive play to every game, 1997-98 sophomore guard Kim Clark has missed the last 11 games with a back injury but has been cleared to play this weekend against the Oregon schools. Clark was clearly a good fit in Coach Chris Gobrecht's defense-oriented style of play and saw her time increase this year. But after starting 5 of USC's first 7 games, she suffered a back injury at Boise State (12/21) that forced her to miss the last 6 weeks of action. She posted a career-high 16 points against Boise State (12/21) in the game in which she was injured, making 3-of-7 3-point attempts and getting 4 steals. She is averaging 8.6 points per game and has made 8-of-19 3-point attempts on the season. She scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting vs. San Diego State (12/13). In USC's season opener against Long Beach State (11/25), she scored 12 points and followed that by making her first career start at UC Santa Barbara (12/4). She scored 11 points and made 3-of-3 3-point attempts against Grambling State (12/6). She had a career-high 5 steals vs. Cal State Northridge (12/20). Clark (identical twin of USC guard Kristin Clark) added speed and depth to USC as a reserve in 1996-97. She came on toward the end of the season as a defensive catalyst and as a back-up ball-handler. Clark played in 17 games on the season, averaging 8.4 minutes per game. A 2-sport athlete, Clark was a third team All-American and garnered All-Pac-10 and All-West Region first-team honors as a midfielder on the USC soccer team in 1997. She was USC's leading scorer with 43 points (13 goals, 17 assists) and is considered one of the nation's top players.

    KIYOKO MILLER -- A fine outside shooter and all-around player, Kiyoko Miller has seen time at both guard positions as a 1997-98 sophomore, starting in 14 of her 17 games. Against Arizona State (1/2), Miller posted career highs in points (12), field goals (6), assists (5) and minutes (38). She is averaging 7.4 points per game and is 6-of-14 from 3-point land. At Washington (1/31), she scored 11 points and had 3 steals. At UC Santa Barbara (12/4), she scored 10 points and had 4 steals. She had a career-high 5 steals vs. Coppin State (12/7) and has 31 overall. At Oregon State (1/10), she had a career-high 6 rebounds and 3 steals. She had 9 points and 5 steals against Seton Hall (12/27). She missed the San Diego State game (12/13) while resting a sore shoulder injured against Coppin State. She reaggravated the injury at Washington, but was able to play through the pain. Miller played in every game as a 1996-97 freshman guard, starting once at Arizona (1/16), playing an average of 13.3 minutes per game as a back-up at both the point and shooting guard positions.

    TASHARA CARTER -- Tashara Carter, a 1997-98 freshman, has seen time right away at the small forward position but her excellent ball-handling skills have earned her time at guard as well. A fine athlete with the ability to shoot outside, Carter, who has started 16 games, gives the Women of Troy's offense another option. She put together her most complete game of the season at Washington (1/31) with career highs in points (17) and steals (6) to go along with 2 blocks and 6 rebounds. She did all of that despite playing on a sprained toe she suffered against Washington State the game before. Carter posted her first career double-double against Arizona State (1/2) with career highs in points (12) and rebounds (10 -- 8 offensive). Carter, USC's third-leading rebounder (5.2) and second-leading shot blocker (8), had 11 points against Seton Hall (12/27) and had 5 steals. She had 10 points and a block vs. Stanford (1/16), 10 points vs. UCLA (1/23) and 10 points and 7 rebounds at Washington State (1/29). She scored 9 points in her USC debut against Long Beach State (11/25), adding 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Coming off the bench at UC Santa Barbara (12/4), Carter scored 9 points and had a team-high 6 rebounds. As a prep senior in 1996-97, Carter was a 1997 USA Today Honorable Mention All-American, 1996-97 Street & Smith preseason All-American honorable mention, 1997 All-CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year and first-team selection and the 1997 South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year.

    WHITNEY HOUSER -- Whitney Houser has been much more than a pleasant surprise as a 1997-98 freshman forward. A 7-time starter already, she is averaging 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. She is third on the team in blocked shots (7). She posted her first career double-double with career highs in points (15) and rebounds (10) against Rutgers (12/28), making 6-of-7 shots. Houser played only 8 minutes at Oregon (1/8) because of a bruised back but came back against Oregon State (1/10) and scored 9 points. She opened her USC career with a flourish, scoring 14 points and grabbing 7 rebounds as a starting forward against Long Beach State (11/25). She matched that vs. Arizona (1/4), scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with a pair of blocks. She scored 12 points at UC Santa Barbara (12/4). Against Coppin State (12/7), she had 14 points and also had 7 boards. Houser, who prepped at Laguna Hills (Calif.) High, is a 2-time All-Pacific Coast League (1996-1997) first team selection and a 1997 All-CIF Division II second team pick. She helped lead Laguna Hills High to the 1997 state and Southern Section Division II titles.

    SHANNON KARTZ -- The only senior for the 1997-98 Women of Troy, Shannon Kartz adds depth at the 2-guard and a lot of hustle all over the court. She has returned to the team after a year off spent concentrating on academics. Kartz started the second game of her career against Coppin State (12/7). She has played in 15 games, averaging 10.5 minutes and 1.3 points per game. She posted a career-high 8 points vs. Arizona State (1/2) on 3-of-5 shooting and 2 free throws.

    ADRIA SNEED -- Adria Sneed, who transferred from Ventura (Calif.) College, has seen time at the small and power forward positions as a 1997-98 junior. She made her first career start against California (1/18) and made the most of it, getting a career-high 10 rebounds in only 19 minutes. She saw major time as a reserve at the Pac-10/Big East Challenge in Westwood, scoring 8 points against Rutgers (12/28) and 6 against Seton Hall (12/27). She is averaging 2.5 points per game in 15 appearances, averaging 11.1 minutes per game. Sneed, a 1996-97 J.C. All-State first team selection, averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a 1997 sophomore at Ventura (Calif.) College, leading the Pirates to their second consecutive California J.C. State Championship. A 2-time Western State Conference (1996-1997) first team selection, she also was a 1996 J.C. All-State second team pick as a freshman.

    ERICA MASHIA -- Erica Mashia, a redshirt sophomore who was forced to miss the entire 1996-97 season with a hip injury, hoped to be back as a starting guard in 1997-98. But Mashia, who established herself as one of the top guards in the conference as a freshman in 1995-96, will be forced to miss this year as well with the same injury.

    WALK-ON ADDED -- There is one addition to the USC roster that is not in the media guide. Walk-on Rachel Whitlow, a 5-10 sophomore guard, has been added to the team. Whitlow prepped at Hueneme High School in Oxnard, Calif., where she was a 2-time All-Channel League performer. She has appeared in 3 games, scoring 2 points in 6 minutes. She wears No. 21.

    POUNDING THE PAVEMENT -- After opening the Pac-10 season with 5 of its first 7 games at home at the Lyon Center, USC is in a stretch where 5 of its 7 games will take place on the road.

    SCHEDULE -- USC will face 5 schools that were either ranked or received votes in the Preseason AP Top 25. They are Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. USC is currently 0-5 against that group, with losses to the Wildcats (1/4), Ducks (1/8), Cardinal (1/16), UCLA (1/23) and Washington (1/31).

    CONGRATULATIONS -- USC assistant coach Erika Lang was married over Thanksgiving weekend to Larry Montgomery. Her new surname is Lang-Montgomery.

    NEXT YEAR -- USC and the Sports Arena will play host to the NCAA Tournament West Regional next season (1999). Games will be played on March 20 and 22.