Women's Basketball
    USC Women Welcome Washington, WSU To Galen Center
    Ariya Crook and the Women of Troy are back at Galen Center this week.
    Ariya Crook and the Women of Troy are back at Galen Center this week.

    Jan. 8, 2013

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    THIS WEEK
    The USC women's basketball team comes back from its first venture out of state two games stronger as the Trojans return to Galen Center for another round of Pac-12 competition. USC (5-8, 2-0 Pac-12) now sets up for a home swing against the Washington schools. The Trojans will first host Washington (10-3, 2-0) for a 6 p.m. game on Friday (Jan. 11) before taking on Washington State (5-8, 1-1) at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 13).

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC62
    Washington55
    March 1, 2012
    Seattle, Wash.
    Down To The Wire, USC Wraps Up Washington 62-55.
    The USC women's basketball team wrested away another key win tonight in a 62-55 victory over host Washington. Every win is crucial for the Trojans in this final weekend of regular-season action, and junior Christina Marinacci stepped up in this one for a double-double effort to lead USC. It was a wild finish with the Trojans finally stealing a slim lead with 1:24 to go before closing it out to claim their fifth straight victory and avenge an earlier loss to the Huskies. USC improves to 17-11 overall and is now 11-6 in Pac-12 play to hold on to the No. 3 seed in the coming Pac-12 Tournament.

    THE LAST MEETING
    Washington State69
    USC55
    March 8, 2012
    Galen Center
    USC Women Fall 69-55 In Pac-12 Quarters
    If rebounds were points, the USC women's basketball team would have been in solid shape for tonight's Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal game against Washington State. As it was, however, the Cougars' hot hands from beyond the arc spelled doom for the cool-shooting Trojans, snapping a six-game win streak. WSU passed up USC late in the first half and just continued to create space on the Trojans, leaving USC with a 69-55 loss that puts the Trojans at 18-12 overall.

    FOLLOW ALONG
    Both games this week will be STREAMED ONLINE with audio broadcast by Jason Schwartz and Daren Flam. LIVE STATS through GameTracker will also be available online throught the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.

    IN THE NATION
    USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. Washington and Washington State both are also unranked this week.

    LAST WEEK
    USC picked up a crucial road sweep last week, going down to the wire with both Oregon State and Oregon and pulling out tight victories in both. Rims on the road aren't always friendly to visiting teams. Cassie Harberts found that out the hard way when her two late free throws rimmed out to leave USC still trailing by one with six seconds to go in Friday night's game at Oregon State. But Harberts' otherwise hot hand helped keep the heat off her teammates in the final minutes, and it was sophomore Alexyz Vaioletama who got the friendly winning roll on her buzzer-beating layup to get USC a 56-55 win over Oregon State in Corvallis. The victory snaps a six-game losing skid by the Trojans, who now have their Pac-12 opening win in hand for a 1-0 start to conference play coupled by a 4-8 overall record. The Beavers go to 6-7, 0-1 with the wild finish to tonight's game. Harberts had 14 of USC's 20 first-half points, including all 10 of the Trojan points in the last 10 minutes of the half. OSU's scoring effort was not quite as dramatically one-sided, but still decidedly charged by Jamie Weisner's 13 points as the Beavers led USC 25-20 at the break. Outside of Harberts, the rest of the Trojans were shooting just 10 percent (2-of-20) from the floor, as USC was hitting at just 21 percent in the first half to OSU's 36 percent, which included three 3-pointers that had propelled the Beavers into the lead. The second half was an all-out tug-of-war as the lead changed hands nine more times. No lead changes were more dramatic than those in the final 20 seconds, when OSU took a 55-54 lead after trailing the Trojans for almost nine minutes. That would set up Vaioletama's heroics. After Harberts' free-throw tries both slipped off the rim, Christina Marinacci hauled in her 12th rebound of the game and helped get USC the ball out of bounds underneath. Vaioletama took the inbounds and found Crook, who returned the favor and hit her fellow sophomore down low for the layup and the fortuitous roll that netted USC the road win. Harberts and OSU's Weisner would finish even with 27 points apiece. With her season high 27 points, Harberts was the only Trojan with double-digit scoring, though Marinacci and Kate Oliver hauled in 12 rebounds apiece. OSU also received 10 points from Alyssa Martin, including a late three that cranked up the dramatics in the final minute. USC finished the game shooting 31 percent from the floor to Oregon State's 38 percent. The Trojans finally put together a strong second half, outshooting their hosts 36-30 in the final 20 minutes to work toward the win. Two days later, USC finished off two road sweep with another gutsy final push to notch a 67-62 victory over host Oregon. USC never trailed in the second half, but the Ducks forced three ties in the final five minutes to test the Trojans in their quest for a road sweep. USC had 11 steals at halftime while toting a slim 32-30 lead into the locker room after a slow start to the game. The Trojans were hitting at 35 percent from the floor to Oregon's 39 percent effort, as the Ducks were also hitting the boards harder, up 26-17 on USC. The Ducks remained consistent on the scoring front, but the Trojans refocused on their opportunities at the line in the second half, getting clutch free throws from sophomore Ariya Crook and Brianna Barrett in the final stretch to help USC maintain an edge. USC would finish out the game shooting 33 percent from the floor with a 62 percent effort at the line (16-of-26). Oregon shot 39 percent overall and outrebounded the Trojans 49-40, but hit just 8-of-18 free throws in the game. USC's Harberts and Ariya Crook led all with 16 points apiece for the Trojans, who also had Brianna Barrett and Alexyz Vaioletama finish with 10 points each while Christina Marinacci pulled in a game-high 11 rebounds for USC. Oregon received 15 points from both Ariel Thomas and Amanda Delgado, with Jillian Alleyne a point away from a double-double with 9 points and 10 boards.

    TIME FOR A TURNAROUND
    The Trojans have turned a six-game skid into back-to-back wins to open Pac-12 play thanks to last week's tense trip through Oregon. USC had struggled through second-half slumps that left the Trojans out of reach through six straight losses, having been outscored in the second half in five of those six games -- 184-243 total. In Oregon, however, the Trojans tightened things up to the tune of a 71-62 advantage in second-half scoring, including USC's first win after trailing at halftime with the comeback victory at Oregon State.

    CAN'T STOP CASSIE
    USC junior Cassie Harberts has found a way to hit double digits in every game this season. USC's leader in scoring (17.5 pg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), Harberts also has spent the most time of all Trojans at the free-throw line. She has accounted for near half USC's free throw attempts and makes, with a 77-of-119 tally to date. Harberts opened this season with three consecutive double-doubles to hold 10 career double-doubles, going along with career highs of 31 points set as a freshman vs. WSU along with 18 rebounds also as a freshman vs. Oregon. She has started every game of her career since setting foot at Troy and recently pumped in a season-high 27 points in USC's win at OSU.

    SCOUTING WASHINGTON
    The Huskies are 10-3 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play after beating ASU 77-74 and Arizona 76-65 last week to open conference action. Jazmine Davis is the Huskies' top scorer with 19.4 points per game, and Aminah Williams leads on the boards with 12.0 rebounds per game. Kevin McGuff is in his second season as head coach of the Huskies, who went 20-14 overall last season with a trip to the WNIT Quarterfinals after going 10-8 in Pac-12 play. USC is 28-29 all-time against Washington after splitting games last season. The Trojans lost 67-61 to the Huskies at the Galen Center before beating UW 62-55 in Seattle.

    SCOUTING WSU
    The Cougars enter the week 5-8 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play after losing 71-65 to Arizona and beating ASU 77-65 last week to start conference action. Liz Galdeira and Tia Presley lead WSU in scoring with 13.9 and 12.5 points per game, respectively. Sage Romberg leads on the boards with 5.1 rebounds per game. June Daugherty is in her sixth season as head coach of the Cougars, who went 13-20 overall and finished 11th in the Pac-12 at 5-13 last season. USC is 43-13 all-time against WSU after going 2-1 against the Cougars last season. USC beat WSU 67-62 at Galen Center and 65-54 in Pullman during the Pac-12 regular season, and then fell 69-55 to the Cougars in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pac-12 Tournament at Galen Center.

    BACK FOR MORE
    USC returns 52 percent of its scoring and 52 percent of its rebounding from the 2011-12 roster. Cassie Harberts is the top returning scorer (357 points, 11.9 per game) and Christina Marinacci is back as USC's leader on the boards (215 rebounds, 7.4 per game). That pair, along with junior Desireé Bradley, are USC's most experienced returners with a combined 217 games played entering the 2012-13 season. From there, USC's roster is filled with players with no more than one season of experience, including sophomores Ariya Crook and Alexyz Vaioletama, who provided 5.2 and 4.5 points per game, respectively, as freshmen. Outside of those five players, returner Thaddesia Southall has played only six games around injuries, with eight Trojans in line to play their first-ever career games as Women of Troy this season.

    VETERAN STATUS
    Forward Christina Marinacci is the lone senior on the roster this season as she enters her second year as a captain for the Women of Troy. Although awarded with Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention in her first season and selected to the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving All-Tournament Team as a sophomore, Marinacci went even bigger for USC as a junior. The team's leading rebounder overall last season (7.4 rpg), Marinacci really hit her stride during Pac-12 play. There, the junior hauled in 8.2 rebounds per game and averaged 10.6 points per game. For her standout efforts as a leader in all realms, Marinacci picked up All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. She also hits the books as hard as she does the boards, having earned Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention and standing tall as USC's Lowe's Senior CLASS candidate for 2012-13. Against Arkansas State on Nov. 21, Marinacci tallied her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, notching her sixth career double day overall. To date in her senior season, she's third on the team in scoring (5.7 ppg) and second on the boards (6.1 rpg) and in steals (16).

    OLIVER ON THE LOOSE
    Finally active for the Trojans after sitting out last season as a transfer from Marist, USC's tallest player in the mix is 6-4 Australian product Kate Oliver. Her patience on the comeback trail has paid off. Oliver's biggest game to date came against the nation's No. 4 team, as the junior tallied a double-double against Duke (15 points, 10 rebounds). Now she's a fixture in the starting lineup with starts in the past five games. With 5.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, Oliver also holds a team-high 16 blocks.

    X FACTOR
    After scoring just 15 points in USC's first eight games of the 2012-13 season, sophomore Alexyz Vaioletama seems to have found a rhythm and a role in the Trojan lineup. She has pumped in 29 points in the past four games (7.3 ppg), including 10-point games against Duke and Oregon. Her last two points at OSU were the different in that one, as Vaioletama was the hero of the game in slipping in the buzer-beating layup to beat the Beavers in Corvallis. Two days later, she hit a career-high three 3-pointers on her way to a 10-point day in that USC win at Oregon.

    THE NEW KIDS
    USC head coach Michael Cooper and his staff have added a class of freshmen that ranks No. 14 in the nation on the recruiting charts. With 2012 McDonald's All-American Jordan Adams standing tall as a highly touted guard, USC's talented class also includes guards Brianna Barrett and Destinie Gibbs. The three true freshmen have combined to provide 13.3 points per game so far. Adams and Gibbs were in the starting lineup together for the first seven games of the year, while Barrett had been an early sub for the backcourt. Most recently, though, Barrett has been the top producer of the bunch. She has started the past five games, averaging 7.8 points per game in that span to go along with 5.0 assists thanks to nine apiece in games vs. Duke and Oregon.

    READY TO GO
    Last season, USC had four players waiting in the wings for their chance to hit the courts for the Trojans. Thaddesia Southall actually started out the year, but was sidelined by a knee injury that kept her on the bench the remainder of the season. She's almost ready to go this year as a redshirt sophomore coming back from injury. Redshirt freshman Deanna Calhoun, who was out with a knee injury also last season, saw her first action as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State. The Women of Troy also welcome the additions of sophomore Kiki Alofaituli and junior Kate Oliver, who were unable to compete last season due to NCAA transfer rules. All standing over 6-feet tall, add them up, and that's a good 25 feet of basketball talent to factor into the 2012-13 USC gameplan. Alofaituli and Oliver have both picked up several starts, and are averaging 3.7 and 5.5 points per game, respectively. Oliver recently tallied her first career double-double as a Trojan with 15 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 22 vs. Duke, and also hauled in a career-high 12 rebounds on Friday at OSU.

    FRESH FACES
    The 2012-13 USC roster has been rounded out by two walk-ons -- freshman Franceska Regnier and sophomore Rachel Totten, who studied for a year at UC Santa Barbara -- and a transfer from Hawai'i, Malia Cravens. Cravens will sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Regnier is yet to play due to her eligibility status, and Totten saw her first playing time as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State.

    TROJANS ON TV
    The USC women's basketball team has a solid lineup of television appearances on tap for 2012-13, thanks to the development of the Pac-12 Networks, which are taking the Trojans live to the small screen for 10 games this coming season. USC's Pac-12 Network debut will come fast, with the Trojans' Nov. 23 clash against Nebraska set for national broadcast live from the Galen Center at 2 p.m. After that, USC has a bigtime clash with Duke set for TV on Dec. 22, followed by eight Pac-12 tilts to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, including home-away series with California, Stanford and crosstown rival UCLA. That includes a wild stretch of three games in five days as the Trojans host Stanford on Feb. 15, California on Feb. 17 and UCLA on Feb. 19 for a television frenzy for the Women of Troy at Galen Center. Other televised conference tangles set for TV will be a Feb. 3 face-off with Colorado at the Galen Center and a March 1 matchup at Arizona.

    WHO'S NEXT?
    USC welcomes two acclaimed players to the roster for 2013-14 with the signing of Drew Edelman and Courtney Jaco to national letters of intent on Nov. 14, 2012. Head coach Michael Cooper is eager to add the two California talents to his crew for next season, as the pair offers up a well-balanced skill set for the Women of Troy. A 6-4 post player, Drew Edelman hails from Atherton, Calif., as a standout player from Menlo School under coach John Paye. Ranked No. 41 in the nation at her position, Edelman played club for East Bay Xplosion under coach Mark Anger. While Edelman controls the paint, Courtney Jaco will be called on to take charge in the back court. A 5-8 guard from Compton, Calif. who ranks No. 44 in the nation at her position, Jaco played at Windward School for coach Vanessa Nygaard and club for Elbert Kinnebrew's Cal Sparks team. Edelman and Jaco are all set to hit the floor for the Women of Troy in 2014. Stay tuned!

    LAST SEASON
    USC finished the 2011-12 season with an 18-12 overall record after finishing third at 12-6 in the Pac-12 conference. The Trojans had ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak before taking a devastating loss to No. 11 seeded Washington State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. That loss likely sealed the postseason fate of the Trojans, who had played a grueling nonconference schedule. USC's best wins of the year were an upset of Gonzaga on the road and a season sweep of California, including a heart-stopping overtime victory over the Bears in Berkeley. The Trojans also played defending NCAA champion Texas A&M down to the wire in College Station, where sixth-year senior Jacki Gemelos suffered her fifth season-ending knee injury of her career. USC would take a 71-70 loss to the Aggies in that one, to end a rough road trip that also saw the Trojans take an unexpected loss at Arkansas State in their first-ever trip to Arkansas. USC's tough nonconference schedule also put it up against No. 11 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame. At year's end USC seniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath would both pick up another spot on the All-Pac-12 Team, with Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and Ariya Crook on the Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention list.

    COOP'S TROOPS
    Head coach Michael Cooper has a new staff on hand this season, having added associate head coach Daron Park and assistants Tai Dillard and Evan Unrau to his coaching crew. Daron Park comes to USC after a season at California, with a resume replete with success in eight seasons of collegiate coaching and seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Before his stint in Berkeley, where he helped the Bears to an NCAA appearance in 2012, Parks served as associate head coach at Louisiana Tech for five seasons. Park and the Techsters made back-to-back NCAA appearances in 2010 and 2011. His collegiate career began in Maryland, where he and the Terps won a preseason WNIT championship and earned two No. 1 seeds with two trips to the NCAA Elite Eight. Park had come to Maryland after serving as an assistant coach at Utah from 2004-07, where he began to gather his NCAA Tournament prowess in reaching two tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2006. Assistant coach Tai Dillard comes to USC after five seasons as an assistant coach at UTSA. Prior to that, Dillard has an accomplished collegiate and pro resume as a player, having played at Texas before starring in 57 games as a guard for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars. While coaching at UTSA, Dillard helped see the Roadrunners to back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2008 and 2009. A four-year letterwinner with the Longhorns, Dillard also experienced four NCAA Tournaments as a player, including a visit to the 2003 NCAA Final Four. Assistant coach Evan Unrau also brings experience as a player to the Trojan coaching staff. An Honorable Mention All-American during her four years playing at Missouri, she also was drafted by the WNBA's Washington Mystics and also played professionally overseas. Her coaching career took her most recently to Santa Clara, where she was an assistant for three seasons. Prior to that, Unrau served as an assistant coach for one season at UC Santa Barbara, reaching the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Her collegiate staff experience began at Stanford, where she was video coordinator during the Cardinal's run to the 2008 NCAA title game.