Feb. 3, 2015
USC Women's Basketball Release GET TICKETS
Friday, Feb. 6
THE LAST MEETING
January 11, 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah
USC Women Complete Road Sweep With 46-43 Win At Utah
The USC women's basketball team endured a cool day in Utah and managed to pull off the road win despite a season-low scoring effort in Salt Lake City. The Women of Troy didn't get a bucket from the floor to fall in the final seven minutes of play, but were still able to fend off host Utah to cling to a 46-43 victory by the final buzzer. With the road sweep this week, USC improves to 11-5 overall and to 3-2 in Pac-12 play. Utah goes to 6-9, 0-4 with the loss to the Trojans.
THE LAST MEETING
January 9, 2015
USC Women Blast The Buffs 81-61 In Boulder
The USC women's basketball team dug in and rallied for an impressive road win tonight, topping host Colorado with a powerful push to the finish line for an 81-61 victory in Boulder. USC never trailed in the game, but the Buffs did force the issue in trimming the lead to nine during the second half of play. That prompted a gut check for the Women of Troy, who responded and finished to grab the conference win. USC improves to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play, while Colorado moves to 7-7, 0-3.
USC (11-10, 3-7 Pac-12) vs. Utah (7-13, 1-8)
Galen Center -- 7 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Sunday, Feb. 8
USC (11-10, 3-7 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (10-11, 3-7)
Galen Center -- 12 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
The USC women's basketball team is looking to turn the tide and get back in winning mode this week when it settles back in to its home court at Galen Center. Coming to Troy first is Utah (7-13, 1-8 Pac-12), which is set to square off against the Trojans (11-10, 3-7) at 7 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 6). Following that, USC will host Colorado (10-11, 3-7) in a 12 p.m. showdown on Sunday (Feb. 8).
Both games are being broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks, with Mary Murphy as analyst and Paul Sunderland on play-by-play for Friday's USC-Utah game, and Murphy again as analyst with Brian Webber on play-by-play for Sunday's game vs. Colorado. A live streaming broadcast is also available online to Pac-12 Network recipients at pac-12.com/networks/pac-12-national/. Live stats also will be available through links on the USC women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
The Trojans received votes in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, but does not appear in this week's national polls. Utah and Colorado also are unranked.
USC suffered its first losing road trip last week in taking losses at No. 7 Oregon State and at Oregon. After a slow start to the game in Corvallis, the Beavers heated up and hit the afterburners, leaving the Trojans behind and posting a final 68-35 victory, holding USC to a program-low scoring output. In the first half, it was an ill-timed scoring drought that took the wind out of USC's sails. The Trojans were largely in stride with the Beavers for the first stretch, but Oregon State's 3-point prowess combined with a seven-minute stretch of silence left USC in a 27-15 hole by halftime. USC was shooting just 21 percent from the floor to that point, overmatched by OSU's 35 percent from the floor and five first-half threes. In the next 20 minutes, Oregon State didn't let up. Five more threes fell for the Beavers, who heated up to 50 percent from the floor in the second half. OSU would finish out the win by shooting 46 percent overall, beating out USC's final effort of 25 percent. OSU won out on the boards 47-35 and served up eight blocks -- all from Ruth Hamblin. USC had only Kaneisha Horn finish up in double figures, as the senior scored 10 points for the Trojan cause. OSU, meanwhile, got a game-high 21 points from Jamie Weisner, who hit half her team's 3-pointers in the game, and a double-double from Deven Hunter with 15 points and 10 rebounds. On Monday in Eugene, USC was passed up late in the game by host Oregon, which broke up a game that saw 11 tie scores with a nine-point run to the lead. The Ducks would not look back, and finished out the game by fending off the Trojans for a final 63-57 victory. The first half tangled up through four tie scores and saw the Trojans trailing by four point before finding a spark. A 10-0 Trojan rally pulled USC into the lead, and the Women of Troy would stay out ahead and hold a 25-23 lead at the break. USC was shooting just 33 percent through those first 20 minutes, trailing Oregon's 36 percent effort but getting significantly more shots up. USC was up on the boards to the tune of a 21-15 rebounding advantage by halftime. Both teams warmed up in the second half, but the Ducks were hotter. Oregon shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half and benefited further from a 19-of-23 effort from the free-throw line. The Ducks would wrap the game shooting 48 percent to fuel their comeback push to victory. USC shot 40 percent in the second half to end at 37 percent, and was 7-of-11 from the line. USC finished up ahead on the boards, 34-31. USC had three players finish up in double figures, with Courtney Jaco in the lead with 14 points. Kaneisha Horn was next with 11 to go along with her team-high eight rebounds. Fellow senior Alexyz Vaioletama added 10 for the Trojans. Oregon was paced by a double-double from Jillian Alleyne with 18 points and 13 rebounds. She was joined in double digits by Ducks Katelyn Loper (12 points) and Drea Toler (11 points).
BIG ON THE BOARDS
The Women of Troy are leading the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds (15.0 per game through Feb. 2). USC was particularly impressive on the boards two weeks ago, when the Trojans hauled in 25 offensive rebounds vs. Cal and then tallied 20 vs. Stanford -- outrebounding both teams overall as well. In all, USC has grabbed 20 or more offensive rebounds in four games. The top rebounders for the Trojans are Kaneisha Horn and Alexyz Vaioletama, who average 6.9 and 6.7 rebounds per game, respectively, to date. Both seniors have upped their aggression on the boards in conference play, too. Vaioletama is averaging 7.7 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play, and Horn is up to 7.2 in conference games.
CALVERT CAPTURES CONFERENCE HONORS
USC's McKenzie Calvert became the first Trojan to earn Pac-12 accolades this season with her selection as Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Jan. 5. She is the first USC freshman ever to win the award, which began in 2012. The guard took over as USC's top scorer on the season thanks to back-to-back double-digit games for the Trojans to kick off Pac-12 play. Calvert served up a team-high 16 points in a loss to UCLA and then came up with a 12-point outing along with a career-high five rebounds in a solid win over Oregon. Now averaging 10.4 points per game and standing as the team's second leading scorer, Calvert trails only sophomore Courtney Jaco in total threes made with 25 makes to date. The freshman has hit double figures in nine games for the Women of Troy, highlighted by a career-high 21 points nailed vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 9. She also hit a team-high 20 at Colorado and had 12 at UCLA.
The Utes are 7-13 overall and 1-8 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 62-48 last week. Taryn Wicijowski leads Utah with 15.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. The Utes return three starters from last year's team, which went 12-19 overall after a 4-14 mark for 11th place in the Pac-12. USC is 8-5 all-time against Utah after beating the Utes 46-43 last month in Salt Lake City. Last year, USC recorded a season sweep of Utah with a 55-47 win at Galen Center and a 67-57 victory in Salt Lake City.
The Buffs are 10-11 overall and 3-7 in Pac-12 play beating Arizona 81-69 last week. Jen Reese and Jamee Swan lead Colorado in scoring with 13.7 and 13.5 points per game, respectively. Swan leads on the boards with 7.8 rebounds per game. The Buffs return five starters from last year's team, which went 19-15 overall after a 6-12 mark for ninth place in the Pac-12 and a trip to the WNIT third round. USC is 7-4 all-time against Colorado after beating the Buffs 81-61 in Boulder last month. Last year, the Trojans beat the Buffs 55-45 at Galen Center and then won 66-59 in Boulder.
A big key to success for the Trojans in 2014-15 has been a well-balanced attack. Nine of USC's 10 active players have each hit double digits at least once this season. And USC has had at least four different scorers hit double digits in all but eight games. Even in a season-opening loss at now-top-ranked South Carolina, USC had three players hit double digits, with career highs set for all three -- Kaneisha Horn (11 pts), McKenzie Calvert (11 pts) and Drew Edelman (10 pts). Two days later at Davidson, USC had all five starters score in double figures. The trend continued with Jordan Adams, Brianna Barrett and Alexyz Vaioletama staying the most consistent during USC's five-game win streak. That run was snapped when just two Trojans hit double digits in a loss at Saint Mary's, but the Trojans reloaded for the very next game and landed four more double-digit scorers in a win over CSUN on Dec. 9. On Dec. 14 against Sacramento State, USC piled season-best six players in double figures, with Kiki Alofaituli, Barrett and Horn each recording the first double-doubles of their careers. To date, USC has three players averaging double-digit scoring and one more just outside that mark. Senior Vaioletama leads all with 12.2 ppg, followed by freshman Calvert at 10.4 and junior Barrett at 10.2. Sitting right in reach with 9.8 ppg is Horn. As a team, USC has shot over 50 percent from the floor in six games and is shooting 41.5 percent overall, including a 31.7 percent effort from beyond the arc. Outside of the victorious trip through Colorado and Utah, the only games with three or fewer USC players in double digits have been losses (South Carolina, Saint Mary's, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford and Oregon). The anomalies were a big win with just three double-digit scorers at Colorado and then a low-scoring win with a season-low 46 points on 30.4 percent shooting with just Barrett finishing in double digits.
TIME TO SHINE
Now 22 games deep into the 2014-15 season, there are at least four Trojans who have truly stepped up their production significantly. Jordan Adams, Kaneisha Horn and Courtney Jaco have each more than doubled their scoring from last season, filling an important offensive void left by USC's departed players from last season. What's more, senior Alexyz Vaioletama has upped her game even more. She had doubled her effort from her sophomore season to her junior season, and now as a senior she's going even bigger. Vaioletama tops the Trojans with 12.2 points per game after a junior campaign in which she averaged 8.6 ppg. Also this season, Adams set a career high and scored the winning baskets for the Trojans with 15 points in USC's overtime win at Long Beach State. She'd up that with a 21-point outing recently vs. Cal. After producing just 2.8 points per game last season, Adams has upped her game and is scoring 7.1 points per game to go along with 3.8 assists per game. Now a senior after playing her first season at USC last year as a transfer, Horn notched a new career high with 11 in USC's opener at South Carolina and has since almost doubled that in scoring 20 vs. Sacramento State. She's now up to 9.8 points per game after going for 3.0 last season and has notched her first career double-doubles this season. Another Trojan who has flourished with a year under her belt is Jaco. A sophomore, Jaco nailed five 3-pointers at Long Beach State to set her career best with 15 points in that one. She averaged 3.7 ppg as a freshman and is at 7.1 ppg this season for the Women of Troy as a full-time starter. Jaco also stands as USC's top 3-point shooter with 33 makes to date.
THE NEW CLASS
USC's freshman class is a unique blend, and together earned a ranking of No. 13 in the nation according to All Star Girls Report. Guard McKenzie Calvert has been called upon to get up to speed fast for the Trojan backcourt, while posts Amy Okonkwo and Kristen Simon have made an impact down low. The entire group has already made their presence known in the scoring column. Calvert leads the pack with 10.4 points per game with six starts in her 19 appearances, and is shooting 35.2 percent from 3-point range. Simon has stepped in for 20 games and is averaging 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Okonkwo has appeared in 19 games and is averaging 2.7 ppg. Freshman Chyanne Butler played in USC's second game of the season at Davidson and then requested her release from the program.
TAKING ON TOP TEAMS
USC face four fellow NCAA Tournament teams (South Carolina, Fresno State, Cal State Northridge and Oklahoma State) during the nonconference stretch this season. Of those squads, the Gamecocks and the Cowgirls finished 2013-14 in the national rankings. Pac-12 play will put another set of four NCAA Tournament teams on tap for the Trojans. In addition to USC's postseason journey, the conference saw Arizona State, California, Stanford and Oregon State take trips into 2014 NCAA action, while four more Pac-12 teams played in the WNIT last season. So far this season, USC is 0-5 against ranked teams (No. 2 South Carolina, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 11/7 Oregon State and No. 11 Stanford).
TUNE IN TO THE TROJANS
The 2014-15 Women of Troy will get plenty of face-time this season with 17 regular-season USC women's basketball games scheduled to be televised this season on the Pac-12 Networks. All but two conferences game are due to be televised. All told, USC face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and play a total of nine regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season. All non-televised USC home games will be streamed live at http://pac-12.com/videos/university-southern-california.
When the 2015-16 season rolls around, USC will have a set of three new Trojans ready for their first action. The most recent addition to that crew comes with the transfer of guard Sadie Edwards (Meridan, Conn.) to USC from UConn. She is currently enrolled in classes and is practicing with her team at Troy, but her eligibility for competition won't kick in until Jan. 2016. Meanwhile, USC has signed two newcomers to national letters of intent to join the Women of Troy as true freshmen for 2015-16 -- forward Marguerite Effa (Los Angeles) and guard Aliyah Mazyck (Charlotte, N.C.).
THE CHAMPS ARE BACK
Coming off the program's first-ever Pac-12 Tournament Championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament scene, the USC women's basketball team has raised its profile as the Women of Troy dig into their 2014-15 campaign. Under the guidance of second-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, this season's squad is taking that taste of victory and staying hungry for more. Although the bulk of USC's scoring numbers came from two Trojans in particular last season, USC's secret weapon during its run to the conference crown was the ability for different players to shoulder the load at key moments. Sure, the All-Tournament Team honorees Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook gave USC big boosts throughout the season, but it was the breakout performances of Alexyz Vaiolatama, Kiki Alofaituli, Brianna Barrett and Kate Oliver that packed the crucial extra punches as the Trojans pushed through the postseason. Harberts and Oliver have since graduated, and Crook has been dismissed from the program due to violation of team and university policy, but the Women of Troy are still a force to reckon with. Harberts and Crook combined for over 1,000 points last season, but it was Vaioletama who ran the rebounding game for the Women of Troy. A captain again this season, Vaioletama looms large as a standout senior now. She doubled her production from her sophomore season to her junior year, averaging 8.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season. Not far behind her on the scoring front was Barrett, now a junior guard, who busted open some huge performances last year and looks primed for more. She hit 24 points for the Trojans in their return to the NCAA Tournament, going big in USC's NCAA First Round loss to St. John's in Knoxville, Tenn. Let it be noted, too, that Vaioletama was huge on the boards in that one, hauling in 11 rebounds in USC's season finale.
Brianna Barrett, Alexyz Vaioletama and Kiki Alofaituli each took at turn or a few as USC's top scorers in different games last season. Their ability to stand up as impact players is already proven, and Cooper-Dyke is eager to see other Women of Troy rise to dominance as well this season. Expect to see senior Kaneisha Horn and redshirt sophomore Jordan Adams hit their strides this season. Both have a full season of healthy play under their belts now, so the rust is officially off and their bodies are strong and prepped for battle. Adams and Barrett have shown power at the point, and the backcourt can also be capably led by sophomore Courtney Jaco, who can run the show and rifle in the three like a sharpshooter. She was third on the team in 3-pointers nailed last season as a freshman. Jaco appeared in all 35 USC games, so her experience level is high as she settles in for her sophomore campaign. Fellow sophomore Drew Edelman, meanwhile, packs the post for the Women of Troy. With the departure of Harberts, Edelman has been called upon for increased time in the paint. She made 15 game appearances in 2013-14. Now prepped for battle, redshirt sophomore guard Alexis Lloyd has entered the backcourt fray for her first action as a Trojan this season.
USC made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2005-06 season after earning the league's automatic bid after winning the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in school history. USC upset regular-season champion and top-5 ranked Stanford to reach the title game in head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's first year at the helm. With a 22-13 overall record and an 11-7 Pac-12 finish Trojans had more overall wins and Pac-12 wins than a year ago. USC posted an upset of then-No. 12 Colorado for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 and also had a big upset at No. 23/22 California. Six of the team's seven league losses were by 10 points or less. USC opened the 2013-14 campaign with a 3-0 start, the team's best since 1998-99. Junjor Ariya Crook and senior Cassie Harberts led the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 and 15.4 ppg, respectively, while Harberts grabbed 7.3 rpg. Crook was named Most Oustanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament while Harberts was named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament Team and to the All-Pac-12 team for the second year in a row. Harberts was also honored by the WBCA as an all-region team member. Also earning All-Pac-12 accolades were Brianna Barrett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention), Courtney Jaco (Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention) and Alexyz Vaioletama (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention).