Feb. 21, 2013
USC WBB Release
The USC women's basketball team sets up for the back end of its rivalry week collisions with No. 17 UCLA this weekend. The Trojans took a 68-54 loss to the Bruins earlier this week at Galen Center, and will not aim to return the favor and grab USC's first win over a ranked team when the Women of Troy head to Westwood this weekend. USC (8-18, 5-10 Pac-12) squares off again against crosstown rival UCLA (20-6, 11-4) at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 24) at Pauley Pavilion.
THE LAST MEETING
February 19, 2013
Sunday's game at UCLA will be televised by Pac-12 Networks, with 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. UCLA ranks No. 17 in this week's AP poll and No. 16 in the ESPN Coaches Poll.
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. WATCH THE VIDEO!!
TUESDAY VS. UCLA
USC sufered its seventh straight loss on Tuesday at the hands of No. 17 UCLA. Up against its third ranked opponent in five days, the Trojans ran out of gas against the Bruins and never led in the game. USC shot just 28 percent from the floor, compared to UCLA's 43 percent, and the Trojans trailed by as much as 27 during the second half before trimming that deficit down to 14 by the final buzzer. Outrebounded 49-40, USC was effective at getting to the free-throw line and made 18-of-27 attempts from the line. UCLA was just 2-of-6 on free throws. UCLA was led by Atonye Nyingifa with a game-high 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting. USC was led by Cassie Harberts with 17 points and nine rebounds, with Kiki Alofaituli adding a career-high 11 points and Ariya Crook delivering 10 points. Crook hit two threes in the game to move up to No. 13 in single-season 3-pointers (49) at USC. Harberts, too, climbed up in the season rankings to now stand No. 4 all-time in single-season free throws made (172). She also ranks No. 6 all-time in career free throws made (392). With 247 free throws attempted this season to date, Harberts ranks No. 1 in the nation. It was USC's Senior Night, honoring the Trojans' lone senior, Christina Marinacci. She would hit career highs in assists (4) and steals (4) in the game and also delivered two blocks.
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 a seven-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 18 losses overall, USC has the second most losses in a single season in program history. In 1998-99, USC lost 20 games. Seven of USC's 10 Pac-12 losses have come by single digits, including three 3-point losses by the Trojans.
Forward Christina Marinacci is the lone senior on the roster this season as she is in her second year as a captain for the Women of Troy. 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 (6.3 ppg) and second on the boards (5.8 rpg), although 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
Earlier this season, 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 to a winning run through Oregon in USC's first out-of-state action and then two home wins over the Washington schools. 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. Once Pac-12 play got going, the Trojans tightened things up and outscored opponents in the second half of the first six 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. In the past week, USC outscored both No. 6 Cal and No. 17 UCLA 35-34 in the second half, though it wasn't enough to make up for slow first halves in each game.
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 1,196 career points to date she has taken over at No. 17 all time at USC. She is hands-down USC's current season leader in scoring (17.8 pg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg). Harberts also has spent the most time of all Trojans at the free-throw line, accounting for near half USC's free throw attempts and makes, with a 172-of-247 (.696) tally to date to push her to No. 6 all-time in career free throws made (392). Harberts also leads the nation in free throws attempted this season with 247. 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 No. 17 Bruins are 20-6 overall and 11-4 in Pac-12 play after falling 79-51 to Cal and 68-57 to Stanford over the weekend and then beating USC 68-54 on Tuesday. Atonye Nyingifa and Alyssia Brewer lead UCLA in scoring with 12.0 and 11.1 points per game, respectively. Brewer leads on the boards with 7.8 rebounds per game. Cori Close is in her second season as head coach of the Bruins, who went 14-16 overall and finished 9-9 in Pac-12 play last season. USC is 45-38 all-time against UCLA after recording a season sweep of the Bruins last year and then falling earlier this week 68-54. Last season, USC beat UCLA 47-43 in Westwood and then won 66-54 at Galen Center.
BACK FOR MORE
USC returns 52 percent of its scoring and 52 percent of its rebounding from the 2011-12 roster. Cassie Harberts came in as the top returning scorer (357 points, 11.9 per game last season) with Christina Marinacci back as USC's leader on the boards (215 rebounds, 7.4 per game) in 2011-12. 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 five games due to injury. With 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, Oliver also is second on the team with 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 five games due to injury, but is expected to return next week if possible.
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 98 points in USC's 15 Pac-12 games to date (6.5 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 5.2 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.
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.
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.