Women's Basketball
    USC Women Battle The Bruins Twice This Week
    Senior Christina Marinacci will play in her final game at Galen Center on Tuesday. Be there!
    Senior Christina Marinacci will play in her final game at Galen Center on Tuesday. Be there!

    Feb. 18, 2013

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    THIS WEEK
    The USC women's basketball team continue their busy schedule of events with back-to-back clashes against crosstown rival UCLA this week. The Women of Troy (8-17, 5-9 Pac-12) will first play host to the No. 17 Bruins in an 8 p.m. home finale for USC on Tuesday (Feb. 19). The Trojans will honor graduating senior Christina Marinacci in a Senior Night ceremony before the game. Later, USC will take the trip across town to Westwood for a 2 p.m. matchup on the Bruins' home court on Sunday (Feb 24).

    THE LAST MEETING
    UCLA54
    USC66
    February 19, 2012
    Galen Center
    USC Women Blast The Bruins 66-54
    The USC women's basketball team pinned up its biggest win over crosstown rival UCLA in 10 tries as the Trojans rolled the Bruins 66-54 in Pac-12 play at the Galen Center today. USC got a game-high 26 points from Cassie Harberts and a double-double from Briana Gilbreath to propel USC out of reach of UCLA. With a season sweep of the Bruins, USC improves to 14-11 overall and 8-6 in Pac-12 play, while UCLA goes to 12-13, 7-7.

    THE LAST MEETING
    UCLA54
    USC66
    February 19, 2012
    Galen Center
    USC Women Blast The Bruins 66-54
    The USC women's basketball team pinned up its biggest win over crosstown rival UCLA in 10 tries as the Trojans rolled the Bruins 66-54 in Pac-12 play at the Galen Center today. USC got a game-high 26 points from Cassie Harberts and a double-double from Briana Gilbreath to propel USC out of reach of UCLA. With a season sweep of the Bruins, USC improves to 14-11 overall and 8-6 in Pac-12 play, while UCLA goes to 12-13, 7-7.

    FOLLOW ALONG
    Both games this week will be televised by Pac-12 Networks, with Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy on the call from Galen Center, and Anne Marie Anderson and Tammy Blackburn on the broadcast from Pauley Pavilion. Live stats through GameTracker will also be available online through the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.

    IN THE NATION
    USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. Stanford sits as the nation's No. 4 team, and Cal ranks No. 6 in this week's AP poll.

    LEGACY GAME
    On Sunday (Feb. 17), USC held a halftime ceremony to honor members of the 1983 and 1984 NCAA Championship teams and raise championship banners to the rafters of Galen Center. The Women of Troy invited all USC alumnae to join the celebration of USC's women's basketball legacy. Former Trojans of all ages also were in attendance and honored during the USC-Cal game in a celebration of USC's storied tradition along with USC greats Cheryl Miller, Paula McGee, Linda Sharp, Tammy Story, Adrain Williams and more.

    LAST WEEK
    USC started its stretch of four games against ranked teams in 10 days with two top-10 clashes at Galen Center. USC was overmatched by a tough No. 4 Stanford squad on Friday, falling 79-55 to the Cardinal as Stanford received 55 points from its post players Chiney Ogwumike, Joslyn Tinkle and Mikaela Ruef. The Cardinal shot 44 percent from the floor in the game to USC's 33 percent. USC was led by a career-high 14 points from Alexyz Vaioletama and 13 points from Cassie Harberts in the loss. Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike led all scorers with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Stanford outrebounded USC 46-33 in the game. The Cardinal and Trojans traded the lead five times early in the half, with Stanford taking a more permanent lead after six minutes of action. USC cut to within two on a three from Ariya Crook with 5:40 to go in the first half, but the Cardinal steamed ahead with a 12-2 run that had the Trojans behind 31-19 at halftime. Stanford would keep the Trojans at bay and finished off a 79-55 win. On Sunday, USC went up against No. 6 California in a physical contest that saw the Trojans nearly pull off the huge upset but stumble late to lose 72-64 to the Bears for USC's sixth straight loss. The Trojans trailed by 53-40 with 10:12 to play. Over the remainder of the game USC made a major push.Cassie Harberts' basket with 1:54 to play cut the lead to 63-59, but California made seven crucial free throws down the stretch to hold and win. Harberts, who made only 4 of 17 shots, led the Trojans with 20 points. She converted 12 of 14 free throws, had seven rebounds and four steals and played the entire game. Ariya Crook had a strong game as she scored 15 points and 5 rebounds and four assists. Cal's Layshia Clarendon scored 22 points and Brittany Boyd added 16 to lead the Golden Bears, which has won 11 straight and completed is first sweep in Los Angeles since 2007-08 season. Gennifer Brandon and Boyd made four free throws in the final 40 seconds to foil USC's comeback. Afure Jemerigbe scored 11 points and Brandon pulled down 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears, which outrebounded he Trojans 46-35 in the game. The Trojans shot 36.1 percent (22-61) in the game and were outrebounded 46-35. USC missed 12 free throws but forced 16 turnovers. Christina Marinaccci scored 9 points and had 7 rebounds and Deanna Calhoun also hauled down 6 rebounds for the Trojans. Alexyz Vaioletama dished out six assists for USC. The Golden Bears led 38-29 at halftime.

    TOUGH TIMES
    With only three players on the roster coming in with more than one season of USC experience in senior Christina Marinacci and juniors Cassie Harberts and Desiree Bradley, the young Women of Troy have struggled to find winning consistency this season. The Trojans are in the midst of their second six-game losing streak, although USC was able to open Pac-12 play with four straight wins for the program's best conference start since the 2004-05 season. USC has featured 12 different starting lineups this season with injuries and adjustments made in an effort to find a winning combination. WIth 17 losses overall, USC has the second most losses in a single season in program history., matching 17 taken 2002-03 and well short of the 20 losses suffered in 1998-99. Seven of USC's nine Pac-12 losses have come by singe digits, including three 3-point losses by the Trojans.

    VETERAN STATUS
    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 third on the team in scoring (6.5 ppg) and second on the boards (5.9 rpg), though she was sidelined for eight conference games due to injury. She got back to action on Feb. 8 at WSU and led the Trojans with 17 points in her return.

    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, the Trojans 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. At 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. In five consecutive Pac-12 games, however, the Trojans were outscored in the second half, 126-187, until USC finally turned the tide in outscoring Washington 30-23 in a losing effort on Feb. 10.

    CAN'T STOP CASSIE
    USC junior Cassie Harberts has only missed double-digit scoring in one 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 1,179 career points to date she has taken over at No. 18 all time at USC. She is hands-down USC's current season leader in scoring (17.8 pg) and rebounding (7.7 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 163-of-234 (.697) tally to date to push her to No. 7 all-time in career free throws made (383). 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.

    SCOUTING UCLA
    The No. 4 Cardinal are 22-2 overall and 11-1 in Pac-12 play with an eight-game win streak that includes last week's 73-43 win over Arizona and 69-45 win over ASU. Chiney Ogwumike leads Stanford and the Pac-12 in scoring with 22.4 points per game, and also leads in rebounding with 12.4 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 19-5- all-time against Stanford with 11 straight losses since the Trojans' last win over the Cardinal, a 73-72 victory on Jan. 6, 2008 at Galen Center. Stanford won the last meeting 75-66 last month in Palo Alto.

    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 seven Trojans in line to play their first-ever career games as Women of Troy this season.

    OLIVER ON THE LOOSE
    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 become a fixture in the starting lineup with starts in 12 of the past 14 games, missing the past two games due to injury. With 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, Oliver also holds a team-high 27 blocks. In Pac-12 play, Oliver is averaging 7.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game thanks in part to her third double-double of the year at Cal. She's been sidelined the past three games due to injury, but is expected to return next week if possible.

    X FACTOR
    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 94 points in USC's 14 Pac-12 games to date (6.7 ppg), including a career-high 14 points vs. Stanford on Feb. 15 and also having provided a whopping 13 rebounds vs. Cal and 12 vs. Utah. 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 third on the team with 18 threes, including 13 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. 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. Adams has since been sidelined for the remainder of the season following knee surgery in late January. Barrett has become the top producer of the bunch. She started 16 straight games, scoring 79 points (4.9 ppg) in that span to go along with 65 assists (4.1 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 2011-12 season, but was sidelined by a knee injury that kept her on the bench the remainder of the year. She's still working to return to action as a redshirt sophomore. 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, and had a career day most recently with eight points at Washington on Feb. 10. 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 worked their way into the starting lineups, and are averaging 4.7 and 6.4 points per game, respectively. Oliver tallied her third career double-double as a Trojan with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Jan. 17 at Cal.

    FRESH FACES
    The 2012-13 USC roster has been rounded out by walk-on sophomore Rachel Totten, who studied for a year at UC Santa Barbara, and a transfer from Hawai'i, Malia Cravens. Cravens is sitting out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Totten saw her first playing time as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State.

    TROJANS ON TV
    USC women's basketball 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.

    WHO'S NEXT?
    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!

    LAST SEASON
    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.

    COOP'S TROOPS
    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.