Feb. 1, 2011
Complete Release in PDF Format
COMING UP NEXT
USC sets up for another round against crosstown rival UCLA this weekend -- this one to be held on the Trojans' home court in a key Pac-10 clash. On Sunday (Feb. 6), the No. 9 Bruins (18-2, 8-1 Pac-10) will come to the Galen Center for a 1 p.m. game against the Women of Troy (13-7, 5-4).
This weekend's crosstown clash at the Galen Center will be televised live on FSN, with play-by-play from Jim Watson and analysis from Mary Murphy and Lisa Leslie. Live audio will also be broadcast on usctrojans.com with play-by-play from Jason Schwartz. Live stats through GameTracker also will be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is not ranked in this week's polls. UCLA is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and No. 10 according to AP.
USC incoming freshman forward Thaddesia Southall will redshirt this season due to an ACL injury sustained before arriving at USC. Two current Women of Troy -redshirted last season due to knee injuries -- G Stefanie Gilbreath and F Michelle Jenkins. Gilbreath returned to action for USC's season opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 12, but was sidelined as of Dec. 17 by a foot injury. Jenkins is expected to return in February 2011, and Gilbreath has been cleared to return to action.
The No. 9 Bruins are 18-2 overall and 8-1 in Pac-10 play after pinning up 70-60 wins over both ASU and Arizona last week. UCLA's losses of the year came in an 55-53 loss to LSU and a 64-38 loss to Stanford. Darxia Morris and Jasmine Dixon lead UCLA in scoring with 12.5 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. Nikki Caldwell is in her third season as head coach of the Bruins, who went 25-9 overall and were 15-3 in Pac-10 play with a second-place finish in the conference on the way to a trip to the NCAA Second Round. USC is 43-36 all-time against UCLA after the Trojans fell 61-42 last month in Westwood. The teams met three times last year, with USC winning 70-63 at the Galen Center and falling 74-56 in Westwood during conference play before UCLA got a 59-53 win over USC in the Pac-10 Tournament semifinals.
GET TO GALEN!
USC students receive FREE ADMISSION to all home games! For other Trojan fans, tickets are available online or by calling 213-740-GOSC. Pac-10 games are $10, and courstide reserved seats are $15. Group discounts ($5 per person) are also available for groups of 10 or more. For families, pick up a Family 4-Pack for $40 to receive four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks.
Get ready to join the fun for special events at upcoming USC women's games. On February 6 for the heated USC-UCLA crosstown clash, there will be free adminssion to the game. On February 18, wear pink and get in free for USC's PinkZone game, to raise awareness for breast cancer. February 20 is Dads & Daughters Night, when famlies can pay $24 for two tickets, two hot dogs and two drinks to go along with a fun day at Galen Center that will include a photo booth, Nike mini-basketballs, souvenir photos and frames. The first 250 fans will also receive a drawstring bag.
USC got an 81-72 win over Arizona for the Trojans eighth straight win at home before taking its first loss of the season at the Galen Center in a 62-61 decision at the hands of Arizona State last weekend. Against the Wildcats, USC had two players come up a rebound away from double-doubles on Thursday, but the Trojans' all-around effort was more than enough to take USC past Arizona. With nine rebounds apiece, USC's Briana Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci combined for 37 points on the night - with Marinacci hitting a career-high 17 to go with Gilbreath's team-high 20. Cassie Harberts was a power on all spots on the floor for the Trojans as well, netting 14 points to stand as USC's third player in double figures. Against ASU, USC put up a big fight in the second half, but a slim lead in the late goings of the game was just barely eclipsed by visiting Arizona State. ASU led almost all of the game. USC's first lead didn't come until 5:34 to go as the Trojans finally generated a scoring run to the tune of a 14-0 surge that shook off an 11-point deficit. The energy expended to get a three-point lead was tested in the final stretch as the Sun Devils kept coming. Points in the paint pushed the Sun Devils ahead late, and ASU was able to hold on to the slim lead for the win. The Trojans shot 39 percent in the game to trail a 51-percent outing from the Sun Devils. ASU also won out on the boards 31-25, although the Trojans were able to force 21 Sun Devil turnovers in the game. Gilbreath secured a career-high eight steals in the game to go with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists. Corral led the Trojans with 14 points on the day, and Marinacci added 10 for USC.
JOINING THE CLUB
Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath have been close in stride with one another on the path to a remarkable milestone in the USC history books. USC's two top scorers passed up the 900-point mark several games ago, with Gilbreath crossing the line first with her 17-point outing against Stanford on Jan. 22. She became the 22nd player to hit the 1,000-point benchmark as a Trojan, with Corral coming up quickly on the mark. Gilbreath now sits at 1,037 career points, with Corral just steps behind at 982.
THE BEST SINCE...
USC's strong start to the season had the Trojans holding numbers the program hadn't hit in over a decade. USC's 8-3 record going into Pac-10 play marked the best such winning percentage since the 1994-95 season, when USC was 7-1 entering conference play. And USC's 10-3 overall record through their first two Pac-10 games solidified the Trojans' best overall start since 1993-94, when USC held a 17-1 record before taking its first Pac-10 loss. Now 12-4 after two more wins at Galen, USC is even with its 2004-05 record at this stage in the season. That year, USC turned a 6-4 record into a seven-game win streak.
RANK AND FILE
The Trojans turned some heads in the early goings of the season in serving up upsets of two ranked teams in USC's first four games. The Women of Troy opened the year with a 79-73 win over No. 22 Gonzaga and later handed out a 71-63 win over No. 17 Georgia. Both those wins came at the Galen Center, where USC is currently a perfect 6-0 so far. On the road against two top-10 teams, USC took a 75-50 loss at No. 4 Duke and a tight 69-66 loss at No. 4 Xavier during nonconference play. With road losses to the Pac-10's two highly ranked teams --- UCLA and Stanford -- the Trojans are now 2-4 on the year against ranked opponents.
USC is currently 5-6 overall in road games, including a 1-1 split in neutral territory. Up until the trip through Fresno and Washington state, the Trojans had spent half their time outside the Pacific Time Zone, venturing into Eastern Time for games at Duke and NC State and the Vanderbilt Tournament to go along with a quick visit to Central Time to face Xavier. Overall, USC went 2-3 on trips outside PST, and is currently 9-4 in games played within the state of California.
Briana Gilbreath kicked off the season with a bang, standing as the first player of the season to pick up Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. It was the first career selection for Gilbreath, who opened the year with a double-double to lead USC to an upset win over No. 22 Gonzaga in the Trojans' season opener. Gilbreath had a game-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, scoring 15 of her final 21 points during the second half in helping to push USC to a comeback win. The 21-point outing was just a point away from Gilbreath's career high. Three weeks later, Gilbreath repeated as the Pac-10 Player of the Week --- a feat last achieved by a Trojan in 1996 by Tina Thompson. In a long road trip through a few more time zones, Gilbreath beat her previous career high scoring total in back-to-back games. Up against the nation's No. 4 team in Xavier, Gilbreath had a double-double with a career-best 26 points to go with 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the year. Gilbreath's four 3-pointers hit in the Xavier game also was a new career high. Still on the road, the Trojans then visited NC State, with Gilbreath leading the way again with 23 points and a team-high seven rebounds as the Trojans beat the Wolfpack 84-75 to wrap up a strong road split. Gilbreath hit seven 3-pointers across the two games to go with five assists and four steals. After recently nailing another career-high 26 points vs. Oregon and a strong trip through the Bay Area, Gilbreath is now averaging a team-high 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Trojans.
PAC-10 HAT TRICK
Ashley Corral snagged USC's third Pac-10 Player of the Week honor this season -- the junior's second pick of her career -- after helping lead the Trojans to wins at the Women of Troy Basketball Tournament. Already recently locked in as USC's No. 3 all-time 3-point shooter, Corral ran her total up to 162 career threes in providing game-high scoring for USC in wins over Colorado and San Diego State. Named to the All-Tournament Team, Corral coupled 14 points against future conference-mate Colorado with a team-high seven rebounds as USC beat the Buffs 68-54. The next day, Corral opened the championship game against San Diego State with a 5-of-5 effort from the floor, scoring USC's first 10 points of the game and finishing with 23 points to go with six assists and five rebounds, providing key points for USC as the Trojans pulled out of a four-point game to beat the Aztecs 74-64. Corral's selection marks the first time since 1996-97 that the Trojans have had more than two Player of the Week honors in a single season as she joins Briana Gilbreath's pair of picks to date. Corral is currently No. 2 in scoring with 12.0 ppg and is averaging 4.1 assists per game.
The USC roster is loaded up with six All-American honorees. Five returning players were McDonald's All-Americans on their way into Troy: Ashley Corral, Jacki Gemelos, Briana Gilbreath, Stefanie Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci. Also coming in with All-American accolades is WBCA honoree Cassie Harberts, who kicked off her career as a Trojan with a 16-point outing in her USC debut, and who recently notched her first career double-double. For the first time in five seasons, USC started the season with all its All-Americans healthy and on the court. This year's crew is accounting for 85 percent of USC's scoring. Briana Gilbreath, Corral and Gemelos are all averaging in double figures to date and hit double digits all together in four of USC's six-game win streak, with Marinacci and Harberts not far behind at 9.1 and 9.0 ppg, respectively, and Stefanie Gilbreath getting back her game with 3.1 ppg in seven appearances before being sidelined again with a foot injury. Marinacci also is No. 2 in rebounds, hauling in 7.3 rpg to date.
After almost four years on the sidelines with knee injuries, Jacki Gemelos -- a high school All-American and the nation's top recruit as a freshman in 2006 -- took to the court for the first game action of her Trojan career on Feb. 4, 2010 at Cal. She already has completed her undergraduate degree, but this week, she's playing in the first USC season opener of her career. Now currently pursuing a master's in gerontology, Gemelos has started her first full season of competition healthy and strong. Gemelos has been granted one more season of eligibility after this 2010-11 season. After a career night of 27 points at Fresno State, Gemelos is the team's third leading scorer with 11.3 points per game and is tops on the team with a 87.5 percent free-throw effort.
At the head of the class for 2010-11 is 6-foot-5 senior center Kari LaPlante -- one of only two true seniors on the USC roster. She and Michelle Franco were USC's lone freshmen in 2007 and will finish their careers having split time between two different coaching staffs at Troy. Under the defensive-minded Cooper's guidance last year as a junior, LaPlante picked up accolades with Pac-10 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. LaPlante is currently averaging 5.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as USC's starting center.
Under first-year collegiate head coach Michael Cooper -- a former NBA star with the Los Angeles Lakers and a WNBA head coach for the Los Angeles Sparks -- USC finished 19-12 overall and carried a six-game winning streak into the Pac-10 Tournament semifinals. With Cooper's guidance, the Women of Troy set several new program records in that 2009-10 season, posting USC's best-ever free-throw percentage (.725) while tallying the fewest turnovers (462) and fewest fouls (484) committed in Trojan history.
PAC-10 COMES HOME
As in 2009 and 2010, postseason play kicks off on USC's home court. This season's 2011 Pac-10 Tournament will have a somewhat difference format from past seasons in that action will be split between the Galen Center and Staples Center. The first two round of play are all lined up for USC's home court of Galen Center. The semifinals and championship game, however, will move over to Staples Center to run alongside the Pac-10 Men's Tournament. The women's tourney will run March 9-12. Visit www.pac-10.org for more information and for tickets.
When Stefanie Gilbreath hit the court for the first time in USC's season opener on Nov. 12, it was a long-awaited on-court reunion for USC's sister act. Older by a year, Stefanie now beats out junior sister Briana in remaining eligibility. It had been four years since the pair lasted suited up in the same uniform for gametime -- when Stefanie was a senior in high school and Briana was a junior at Cinco Ranch High in Katy, Texas. They both came out of high school as McDonald's All-Americans, although Stefanie's knee troubles stalled out her Trojan debut while Briana picked up Pac-10 Freshman of the Year recognition and All-Pac-10 Team honors in her first two seasons at USC. In the Nov. 12 Gilbreath-sister-debut, Briana tallied a double-double in 30 minutes of action, and Stefanie registered her first basket and rebound and steal in her first 5 minutes on the floor as a Trojan.
Arguably the most inspiring aspect of the year to come has been seeing two hard-working Trojans finally take the floor for their first full seasons at USC. After being knocked back by multiple knee injuries, the 2006 top recruit in the nation and McDonald's All-American Jacki Gemelos returned to competition for the final 11 games of last season. Meanwhile, stuck on the sideline for her third straight season due to knee injuries was Stefanie Gilbreath -- another McDonald's All-American out of high school. It's been a heartbreakingly long road back for both Women of Troy, but this season marks a long-awaited milestone for Gemelos and Gilbreath. They both appeared in USC's season opener, and stepped right into their roles as contributors for the Women of Troy.
LEADING THE PAC
USC has four Pac-10 honorees back on the roster this season. Junior guards Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath were USC's leading scorers last year, and both landed on the 2010 All-Pac-10 Team as sophomores. Gilbreath was the Pac-10's Co-Defensive Player of the Year as well. Senior center Kari LaPlante earned 2010 Pac-10 Defensive Honorable Mention, and forward Christina Marinacci was a Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention recipient last season.
THE NEW CLASS
The other key element of added success for USC in the coming season is Michael Cooper's first class of recruits. Ranked No. 7 in the nation (according to hoopgurlz.com) as a group, the newest Trojans on the roster are a well-rounded group of impact players. USC's 2010 freshman class includes WBCA All-American Cassie Harberts, who comes in as the nation's No. 11 ranked recruit. Speedy guard Len'Nique Brown and the versatile Desireé Bradley bolster the Trojan backcourt with even more firepower. The rest of the freshman class includes two true posts in 6-4 Lauren White and 6-4 Thaddesia Southall, although Southall will be sidelined for the year in recovering from knee surgery for an injury sustained in her final high school season.