Feb. 1, 2012
USC WBB Release
COMING UP NEXT
USC started a busy week early with a nonconference showdown against UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday. The Trojans snapped a three-game slump with a 50-39 win over the Gauchos to improve to 11-9 overall. Now, it's back to Pac-12 play for the Women of Troy (11-9, 5-4 Pac-12), who host Washington State (10-11, 4-5) at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 2) and Washington (11-8, 3-6) at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 5). Sunday's game vs. the Huskies will be televised on FSN.
Thursday's game will be broadcast live through SCTV at usctrojans.com with live video along with audio provided by Jason Schwartz. Sunday's game will be televised live on FSN with play-by-play from Jim Watson and color commentary from Mary Murphy. Live online audio also will be provided by Jason Schwartz through usctrojans.com. Live stats through GameTracker for both games will be available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC opened the year with a spot in the national rankings for the first time since 2006, ranked at No. 23 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. After the first week, USC moved up to No. 22 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and No. 23 in AP, but fell out of the rankings in week two. USC is currently unranked. WSU and Washington also are unranked.
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. Group discounts ($3 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. CLICK HERE for more info on promos and tickets.
TUESDAY VS. UC SANTA BARBARA
USC secured a much-needed win tonight with a 50-39 nonconference victory over visiting UC Santa Barbara, snapping a three-game slump to give USC a boost. Cassie Harberts delivered a game-high 17 points and Alexyz Vaioletama hauled in a career-high 15 rebounds to lead the Trojan charge to victory. USC made a 15-1 run on the Gauchos to open the second half and create distance from UC Santa Barbara, as the Trojan defense clamped down, holding UC Santa Barbara to 25 percent shooting and holding the edge on the boards 43-41 down the stretch. USC shot 31 percent in the game, led by Harberts as the only Trojan in double figures in the scoring column. UC Santa Barbara was led by Emilie Johnson's 13 points and 11 from Nicole Nesbit.
The Cougars are 10-11 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play after losing 63-46 to ASU and beating Arizona 78-68 last week. Jazmine Perkins lead WSU with 9.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. June Daugherty is in her fifth season as head coach of the Cougars, who went 8-23 overall last season with a 6-12 finish in Pac-10 play. USC is 41-12 all-time against WSU with a three-game win streak after claiming three victories last season. USC beat the Cougars 72-57 and 74-67 during Pac-10 play, then won 78-66 during the Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center last year.
The Huskies enter the week 11-8 overall and 3-6 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 77-48 and losing to ASU 57-53 last week. Regina Rogers leads Washington with 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Kevin McGuff is in his first season as head coach of the Huskies, who went 11-17 overall last season with a 6-12 finish in Pac-10 play. USC is 27-28 all-time against Washington with a seven-game winning streak against the Huskies. USC beat Washington 60-51 in Seattle and 65-61 in overtime at the Galen Center last season. Washington's last win over USC was a 60-45 decision in Seattle on Jan. 13, 2008.
A road-tested USC roster is back for more this season. Last season, the Women of Troy played in 11 different states in amassing a program record of 18 road games. This year, USC opened the year with another busy travel schedule. The Women of Troy visited five different U.S. states during their nonconference stretch, which included face-offs against six NCAA tournament teams, including road tilts against 2011 NCAA finalist Notre Dame and champion Texas A&M. After a loss to Colorado in Pac-12 play on Thursday, USC is now 3-7 in road and neutral-site games to date. Four of USC's five nonconference losses came on the road against currently AP-ranked teams: No. 16 Nebraska, No. 21 Georgia, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 18 Texas A&M. The only other nonconference road loss this year was at unranked Arkansas State in USC's first-ever trip to the state of Arkansas. The losses to Colorado and Utah were USC's first Pac-12 road losses.
Although USC was one of three Pac-12 teams to enter conference play without a winning record, the Trojans boast the toughest schedule in the conference and No. 8 toughest nationally (realtimerpi.com). Entering Pac-12 play, USC's strength of schedule was listed as No. 2 in the nation. USC has played three top-10 teams to date (0-3 against), with eight games against currently ranked or receiving votes in the national polls (3-5 against). USC's current NCAA RPI is 32 (as of Jan. 30), putting the Trojans as the second-highest team from the Pac-12.
MOVING ON UP
USC seniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both broke the 1,000-point barrier last season and continue to trek up the ladder in USC's history books. With 15 points scored at Colorado, Gilbreath moved up to No. 11 all-time (currently holds 1,480 career points). Corral moved into the No. 13 slot on Jan. 31 and now holds 1,430 career points. Gilbreath is two blocks away from No. 4 all-time in career blocks (now holds 160) and is now two steals from matching Lisa Leslie at No. 7 all-time in steals (currently holds 225). Gilbreath took over No. 7 on the career free-throws made list on Jan. 5 (currently holds 358), and on Dec. 31, she cracked the top-10 all-time in career rebounds, now ranked No. 8 with 740 -after passing Shay Murphy on Jan. 19. Corral already is etched as USC's all-time 3-point leader (276), and has recently leapfrogged Cheryl Miller, Jamie Hagiya and Tammy Story to now stand at No. 3 in career assists (currently holds 432).
USC's newcomers all marked up the stat sheet in their Trojan debuts in the season opener on Nov. 11. Freshman Alexyz Vaioletama got the start at forward and finished up with seven points, eight rebounds and five assists in her first action. Freshman Ariya Crook came off the bench to provide two points and an assist along with two steals; and redshirt freshman Thaddesia Southall nabbed a rebound and an assist to go along with two blocks for the post in her first minutes as a Trojan. Her first career points came with a free throw at Georgia on Nov. 20, and she became the first of the newcomers to hit double figures with 12 vs. Gardner-Webb on Nov. 26. Crook would notch her first double-digit day with 10 vs. UTSA on Nov. 30. Vaioletama hit double digits for the first time with 12 points at Texas A&M on Dec. 18, and most recently replicated that count with 12 vs. Oregon on Jan. 19. Crook picked up her first career start on Jan. 28 at Utah and hit double figures for the second time this season with a career-high 17 points.
USC has two players sidelined for the season to rehab from offseason surgeries. Freshman Deanna Calhoun (knee) will redshirt her first year at USC, and Kate Oliver (ankle) will sit out the season after transferring from Marist. Junior Christina Marinacci missed the first game of her USC career on Nov. 11 due to health reasons but returned to action at Nebraska on Nov. 18. Ariya Crook missed the Nov. 26 game vs. Gardner-Webb with an ankle injury. Redshirt freshman Thaddesia Southall sustained a tear to her ACL graft on Nov. 30 and will be out the rest of the season. Redshirt senior Jacki Gemelos suffered her fourth career ACL tear on Dec. 18 when she injured her left knee. Briana Gilbreath missed the first games of her career on Jan. 28 and 31 with a knee injury and is now day-to-day.
Compared to the 14 years of combined time at USC among guards Ashley Corral, Jacki Gemelos, Briana Gilbreath and Stefanie Gilbreath, returning starters Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci are relative newbies. That is, until one takes a look at the minutes they've logged during their time as Trojans. Junior forward Marinacci played in every game in her first two seasons at Troy, and was fifth on the team in scoring last year with 8.2 points to go along with the second-best mark of 6.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Harberts was the only Trojan to start every single game last season, and was one of four Trojans averaging in double digits last year with her 10.2 points per game that she paired with 6.2 rebounds per game. She secured a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and was on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team after posting a 30-point game during the tourney. This season, Harberts is averaging 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Marinacci missed the first game of her career in USC's 2011-12 season opener, but has returned to provide 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to date after setting a new career high with 23 points in USC's Dec. 31 win over Cal. Most importantly, Marinacci has stepped up big after the loss of Jacki Gemelos to injury, as the junior is providing 11.4 ppg and 6.9 rpg during Pac-12 play.
Michael Cooper and his coaching staff have added a premier class of incoming talent, with a group of athletes that rank as the No. 8 class in the nation. Guard Ariya Crook and forward Alexyz Vaioletama are projected to be impact players in their first seasons as Trojans. Their fellow freshmen Deanna Calhoun and Kiki Alofaituli, meanwhile, will sit out the season along with junior transfer Kate Oliver, who comes to Troy from Australia by way of two years at Marist. Calhoun is coming back from a high school-sustained knee injury, and Alofaituli will sit out per NCAA rules.
The USC roster is loaded up with eight 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 holding high school All-American accolades is WBCA honoree Cassie Harberts, now a sophomore with the Trojans. That core of six returners have two new McDonald's All-Americans also lined up for action in freshmen Ariya Crook and Alexyz Vaioletama.
TOUGH TIMES IN TEXAS
On Dec. 18 in College Station, Texas, USC gave the defending NCAA champion Texas A&M all they could handle, leading by as much as 10 against the Aggies before a late push and a clutch 3-pointer from Sydney Carter netted a 71-70 comeback win for Texas A&M to preserve a now-47-game nonconference home win streak for the Aggies. USC trailed by two when Jacki Gemelos went down with a knee injury with 3:39 to go in the first half. The Trojans wiped away tears of fear and sorrow for what looked to be Gemelos' fourth ACL injury of her career and took the floor after a "For Jacki" cheer. USC would then mount a ferocious push against the Aggies. Less than a minute after Gemelos went down, Ashley Corral nailed her second of what would become five 3-pointers in the game. Freshmen Alexyz Vaioletama and Ariya Crook, along with junior Christina Marinacci and senior Briana Gilbreath, would also drain threes while the Trojans were also tough on the defensive boards to propel during a push to a 67-57 lead with 5:07 to go. Texas A&M would regroup, however, and kept USC from scoring any further field goals the rest of the way. Three free throws fell for the Trojans, but the Aggies managed to drain a winning 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go, and USC was unable to get back ahead in the remaining moments to wind up with the 71-70 loss. Corral led USC with 16 points, with Gilbreath and Vaioletama each adding 12 and Cassie Harberts providing 10.
In head coach Michael Cooper's second season at Troy, the Women of Troy experienced a successful postseason that saw USC make a run to the WNIT title match. The 2011 Women of Troy finished the year with a 24-13 overall record after a 10-8 mark in Pac-10 play. The 24 wins was the most by a USC team since 1993-94, and USC's 18 road games in the season the Trojans set another program record. Juniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both earned All-Pac-10 Team honors for the second straight season, with Jacki Gemelos picking up her first conference honors with All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Newcomer Cassie Harberts was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and also had a spot on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team alongside Corral. Corral and Gilbreath would also garner WNIT All-Tournament Team accolades, and Gilbreath became the first Trojan since 1997 to earn an AP All-American selection with an Honorable Mention pick after standing out as USC's leader in scoring, rebounds, blocks and steals in her junior season. Corral and Gilbreath made more Trojan history in both scoring their 1,000th career points last season. Gilbreath hit the mark on Jan. 22, 2011, and Corral followed suit on Feb. 10, 2011. Corral also took over as USC's all-time leader in career 3-pointers on that same day.