Trojans take on two top-10 teams in this week's visit to Cal and Stanford.
Jan. 15, 2013
USC WBB Release
The USC women's basketball team is off to its best start in conference play since 2004-05 as the Trojans stand atop the standings at 4-0 in Pac-12 action. The Trojans now turn to an extended trip through the Bay Area to face two top-10 opponents in televised games on Pac-12 Networks. USC (7-8, 4-0 Pac-12) first visits No. 7 California (13-2, 3-1) at 6 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 17) in Berkeley before heading down to Palo Alto to face No. 6 Stanford (14-2, 3-1) at 4 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 20).
THE LAST MEETING
February 11, 2012
Ariya Crook Cooks Cal In Overtime
The USC women's basketball team won its first game in Berkeley since 2005 in possibly the most dramatic fashion imaginable. After watching host California drain a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime, then falling in a seven-point hole in overtime, USC freshman Ariya Crook scored all 11 points in the final five minute for the Trojans, including a layup with five seconds left. That shot lifted USC to a long-awaited win over the Bears with a heart-stopping 76-75 victory tonight in Berkeley, Calif. USC improves to 13-11 overall and 7-6 in Pac-12 play with the win, and Cal goes to 18-7, 9-4.
THE LAST MEETING
February 9, 2012
No. 4 Stanford Overpowers USC Women 69-52
The USC women's basketball team put together a solid game against conference leader Stanford, but the No. 4 Cardinal's strength in the paint overmatched a thin Trojan roster for a 69-52 Stanford win on Thursday night. USC goes to 12-11 overall and 6-6 in Pac-12 play with the loss, and Stanford improves to 21-1, 12-0.
Both USC's games this week will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks with Mary Murphy and Krista Blunk on the call. Live stats for both games this week will also be available online through GameTracker on the women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. California is No. 7 in this week's national polls, and Stanford is No. 6.
USC kept its undefeated run through Pac-12 play intact with an 81-72 win over Washington and a 61-59 comeback win over Washington State last week at Galen Center. Against the Huskies, USC put up a season-high 81 points - the most by the Trojans in a game in almost a full year. USC had four players finish in double figures for the second game in a row, led once again by Cassie Harberts with 24 points. USC led by as much as 14 in the first half, but that was trimmed to a 38-31 lead at halftime. Washington pulled even with 6:50 to go in the game, only to have the Women of Troy hold strong and push out ahead for the win. USC's Ariya Crook would finish with a career-best six threes to tally 23 points on the night, while teammates Cassie Harberts (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Kate Oliver (12 and 13) registered double-doubles for the Trojans. USC freshman Brianna Barrett, too, delivered double figures in the form of 10 assists. Washington, meanwhile, got over half its points from Jazmine Davis, who also hit six threes to wind up with 37 points for the Huskies. Washington also had Talia Walton in double digits with 15 points. In all, USC was effective from the floor, going 40 percent to outpace Washington's 34 percent in the game. The Trojans also commanded the boards to the tune of a season-high 53 rebounds to lead Washington's 38. The assists count, too, was heavily in USC's favor, 22-8, while the teams finished even with 10 threes apiece down the stretch. Two days later, USC wasn't quite as productive offensively, but was still able to manufacture a comeback win in dramatic fashion. The Trojans received a heroic pair of free throws from Ariya Crook with less than a second remaining to net a 61-59 Trojan victory over visiting Washington State. The Trojans endured 12 lead changes in the game as Crook's free throws answered a WSU 3-pointer that had the game tied with four seconds left. Tia Presley was the top provider for the Cougars in the first half, scoring 18 points to help WSU to a 32-28 halftime lead over the Trojans. USC was shooting 31 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes of action, while WSU hit 39 percent in a wild first half. The second half would get even wilder, especially in the final minute of action. After WSU clawed out of a six-point hole, the Cougars would grab a one-point lead with 1:45 to go. USC would put in four straight free throws to take a 59-56 lead with 20 seconds left, but the Cougars nailed a tying three with just 4 ticks to go. However, Crook would get fouled as USC worked through the press breaker, and she finished off the win with two calmly placed free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to lock down the 61-59 win for the Trojans. Crook finished with 14 points and career highs of nine rebounds and six assists in the win, with USC leader Cassie Harberts recording her fifth double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds to push her across the 1,000-point threshold in her USC career. Kate Oliver, too, finished in double digits with 10 points for the Trojans, who shot 34 percent from the floor in the game and went 20-of-24 from the free-throw line. WSU was led by Presley's 25 points, joined by Lia Galdeira - whose 3-pointer was the late-game equalizer - with 14 final points. The Cougars shot 31 percent from the floor and went 15-of-18 from the free-throw line. USC led on the boards 49-31 to help counter 23 Trojan turnovers in the game. It's USC's best to conference play since the 2004-05 season, when the Trojans opened up 7-0.
TIME FOR A TURNAROUND
The Trojans have turned a six-game skid into four straight wins to open Pac-12 play -- USC's best conference start since the 2004-05 season where the Trojans opened 7-0 -- thanks a winning run through Oregon in USC's first out-of-state action and then two home wins over the Washington schools last weekend. 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 Pac-12 play, however. the Trojans have tightened things up and outscored opponents in the second half of all four games, to the tune of a 103-89 advantage in second-half scoring. Twice this season, USC has come back from trailing at halftime, at Oregon State and vs. WSU.
CAN'T STOP CASSIE
USC junior Cassie Harberts has found a way to hit double digits in every game this season, and on Jan. 13 the junior broke the 1,000-point barrier, becoming the 24th Trojan all-time to hit that mark. With 1,003 career points to day, Harberts is also USC's current season leader in scoring (17.9 pg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg). Harberts also has spent the most time of all Trojans at the free-throw line, accounting accounted for near half USC's free throw attempts and makes, with a 95-of-139 tally to date. Harberts opened this season with three consecutive double-doubles and has since added three more to hold 12 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 to help net her first career selection as Pac-12 Player of the Week on Jan. 7.
The Golden Bears are ranked No. 7 in the nation after splitting games against Stanford in the past week. Cal lost 62-53 at home and then beat the Cardinal 67-55 at Stanford. Brittany Boyd and Layshia Clarendon lead Cal in scoring with 13.7 and 13.3 points per game, and Gennifer Brandon leads on the boards with 10.3 rebounds per game. Lindsay Gottlieb is in her second season as head coach at Cal, which finished second in the Pac-12 last season at 13-5 and finished 25-10 overall with a trip to the NCAA Second Round. USC is 36-23 all-time against California with wins in the past three meetings, including USC's first season sweep of the Bears since 2004-05 last season. The Trojans beat Cal 74-54 at home and then won 76-75 in overtime in Berkeley last season.
The Cardinal are No. 6 in the nation after splitting games against Cal in the past week. Stanford won 62-53 in Berkeley and then lost to Cal 67-55 at home. Chiney Ogwumike leads Stanford and the Pac-12 in scoring with 21.4 points per game, and is the Cardinal's top rebounder with 11.6 per game. Tara Vanderveer is in her 28th season as head coach at Stanford, which won the Pac-12 title and went on to reach the NCAA Final Four in finishing 35-2 overall. USC is 19-49 all-time against Stanford with 10 straight losses since the Trojans' last win over the Cardinal, a 73-72 victory on Jan. 6, 2008 at Galen Center. Last season, Stanford beat USC 61-53 at Galen Center and 69-52 at Stanford.
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.
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 fourth 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. One of Oliver's biggest games 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 seven games. With 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, Oliver also holds a team-high 20 blocks. In Pac-12 play, Oliver is averaging 8.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game after her second double-double of the year vs. Washington.
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 39 points in the past six games (7.7 ppg), including 10-point games against Duke, Oregon and Washington. Her last two points at OSU were the difference in that one, as Vaioletama was the hero of the game in slipping in the buzzer-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. She's hit six three in the past three games.
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 13.1 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 seven games, averaging 7.3 points per game in that span to go along with 5.9 assists thanks in large part to 10 vs. Washington and 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 second career double-double as a Trojan with 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds on Jan. 11 vs. Washington.
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.
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!
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.
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.