The USC women's basketball team remains at home this week to play host to two more out-of-towners, looking to avenge road losses taken last year to both squads. The Women of Troy (8-11, 5-3 Pac-12) will first face off against Utah (10-9, 1-7) in a 7 p.m. matchup on Friday (Feb. 1) at Galen Center. Then, USC turns to face No. 22 Colorado (15-4, 4-4) at 10 a.m. on Sunday (Feb. 3) in a game to be televised by Pac-12 Networks.
THE LAST MEETING
January 28, 2012
Salt Lake City, Utah
Utah Tops Trojans 63-55
The USC women's basketball team saw host Utah turn the corner on a cold first half start to eventually move into a late lead, shooting 54 percent in the second half and putting away late-game free throws for a final 63-55 win over the Women of Troy. USC's third straight loss moves the Trojans to a 10-9 overall record and 5-4 mark in Pac-12 play. Utah improves to 10-10, 3-6 with today's win in Salt Lake City.
USC Women Trip Up In Boulder, 69-67
The USC women's basketball team had a road win slip away in Boulder, Colo., as late free throws drained by the Buffaloes stole the game for Colorado in a 69-67 USC loss on Thursday. Outrebounded for the second straight game, the Trojans wound up short once again on the scoreboard. USC shot at a 49-percent clip down the stretch, but lost the ball on a late potential winning possession before the Buffs got to the line for the go-ahead scores with 1.2 ticks to go. USC goes to 10-8 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play with the loss. Colorado improves to 15-4, 4-4.
Friday's game vs. Utah will be STREAMED ONLINE with audio broadcast by Jason Schwartz and Daren Flam. On Sunday, the USC-Colorado game will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks, with Anne Marie Anderson and Tammy Blackburn on the call. LIVE STATS through GameTracker will also be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com for both games.
IN THE NATION
USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. Utah also is unranked, and Colorado is ranked No. 22 in this week's AP poll.
USC wound up with a split last week at Galen Center, falling 60-53 to Arizona State after sputtering in the second half and then making a concerted effort to maintain the advantage against Arizona in a 74-57 victory. Against ASU, USC lost control of the game in the second half on Friday night, watching Arizona State fight back from a 16-point halftime deficit as the Sun Devils rank away with a 60-53 win over the host Trojans at Galen Center. Cassie Harberts was the only player on the floor with double digits, as she hauled in a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds. ASU had no double-digit scorers, but the Sun Devils' improvement in the second half did the job. Harberts had her seventh double-double of the season in the books by halftime as the Trojans led visiting ASU 36-20 at the break. It was the second biggest halftime lead for USC this season, and the Trojans also had the Sun Devils doubled up on the boards with a 24-12 advantage, thanks in large part to Harberts' 10 rebounds to go along with her 19 first-half points. ASU would get more active and aggressive offensively in the second half, finding a successful gameplan in taking the ball to the hoop to cut into USC's advantage. It was one runner in particular that cranked up the pressure on the Trojans, as ASU went up 56-53 in the final minute with a score from Adrianne Thomas and fended off the Trojans down the stretch for the win. USC slumped to just 24 percent from the floor in the second half to finish the game at 33 percent, while ASU heated up to 59 percent in the second half as the Sun Devils outscored USC 40-17 in the second half and finished the game shooting 45 percent. Timely free throws also eluded the Trojans, who made 4-of-10 from the line in the second half, while ASU hit 12-of-13. USC was hitting at a 41 percent clip through the first 20 minutes compared to ASU's 32 percent effort. The Sun Devils would make a 6-2 run out of the second-half gates, though, and cut to within seven as ASU hit more field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half than it did the whole first half, setting the tone for the energized effort by ASU down the stretch. Two days later, USC snapped a three-game slump in piecing together two strong halves against visiting Arizona for a 74-57 Trojan win. Cassie Harberts shouldered the bulk of the load once again, but this time had three other teammates in double figures for the hot-shooting Women of Troy. USC had its hottest first half of the season in shooting 50 percent from the floor to build up a 43-22 halftime lead on visiting Arizona. That advantage was a good five points larger than USC's Friday halftime lead over ASU, which had come back to beat the Trojans in the second half. So the Women of Troy were on high alert for the final 20 minutes of this one. Arizona would manufacture a few short runs in the second half, but USC kept a step ahead as the Trojans finished out the game shooting 48 percent to Arizona's 29 percent. The Wildcats led on the boards 44-34, but USC countered with 15 steals and some precision ball movement that accumulated 20 assists in the win. Harberts led all with 26 points on the day, joined in double digits by Ariya Crook with 15 points, Kiki Alofaituli with a career-high 11 and Kate Oliver with 10. Crook also dished out seven assists for the Trojan offense, and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Arizona was led by 13 points from Davellyn Whyte, with 11 from Alli Gloyd and 10 from Kama Griffits.
TIME FOR A TURNAROUND
The Trojans 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 then tightened things up and outscored opponents in the second half of the first six straight games to the tune of a 180-157 advantage in second-half scoring. Twice this season, USC has come back to win after trailing at halftime, at Oregon State and vs. WSU. On Thursday vs. Cal, USC came back from a halftime deficit and took a lead thanks to an 11-0 run, but the Bears were able to force overtime and win it on their home court to hand USC its first loss of conference play. At Stanford, too, USC fought back from a deep halftime deficit to cut to within six in the last two minutes before taking the road loss to the No. 6 Cardinal. It wasn't until last weekend's series vs. ASU and Arizona that the Trojans were outscored in the second half in back-to-back Pac-12 games.
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 1,089 career points to date she ranks No. 20 all time at USC. She is hands-down USC's current season leader in scoring (18.7 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 127-of-184 (.690) tally to date to push her to No. 9 all-time in career free throws made (347). Harberts opened this season with three consecutive double-doubles and has since added four more to hold 13 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 Utes are 10-9 overall and 1-7 in Pac-12 play after losing to Stanford 65-44 and to Cal 71-54 last week. Michelle Plouffe leads the team with 16.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Anthony Levrets is in his third year as head coach of the Utes, who went 16-16 overall last season, finishing eighth in the Pac-12 at 8-10 in their first season in the conference. USC is 5-4 all-time against Utah with losses in the past two meetings. Last year, USC lost 63-55 at Utah in the team's first Pac-12 meeting.
The Buffs are 15-4 overall and 4-4 in Pac-12 play after losing 59-56 to Cal and 69-56 to Stanford last week. Chucky Jeffery leads the team with 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Linda Lappe is in her third season as head coach for the Buffs, who went 21-4 overall and finished 10th in the Pac-12 at 6-12 with a trip to the WNIT Quarterfinals last season. USC is 4-3 all-time against Colorado after a 69-67 loss to the Buffs last season in Boulder in the teams' first Pac-12 meeting.
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 last season) 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), though she's been sidelined for the past six games due to injury.
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 10 games. With 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, Oliver also holds a team-high 25 blocks. In Pac-12 play, Oliver is averaging 7.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game thanks in part to her third double-double of the year at Cal.
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 62 points in USC's eight Pac-12 games to date (7.8 ppg), including 10-point games against Duke, Oregon, Washington and Stanford, and a whopping 13 rebounds vs. Cal. 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. As a freshman, Vaioletama made a total of two 3-pointers all season. This season, she's second on the team with 14 threes, including nine during Pac-12 play.
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 12.8 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 10 games, scoring 67 points (6.7 ppg) in that span to go along with 56 assists (5.6 apg) 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 4.2 and 6.5 points per game, respectively. Oliver recently tallied her third career double-double as a Trojan with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Jan. 17 at Cal.
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.