Feb. 24, 2015
USC Women's Basketball Release
Thursday, Feb. 26
USC (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12) at Washington (20-8, 9-7)
Seattle, Wash. -- 6 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Saturday, Feb. 28
THE LAST MEETING
February 2, 2014
USC Women Wind Up Out Of Reach Of Washington, 63-55
The USC women's basketball team put itself in another hefty hole and again was unable to claw out of it, taking a 63-55 loss to visiting Washington today at Galen Center. Cassie Harberts tallied her second straight double-double for the Trojans, but it wasn't enough to counter a stagnant first half by the USC contingent. USC falls to 14-9 overall and 7-4 in Pac-12 play with its third straight loss. Washington finishes off an LA sweep with the win, improving to 12-9, 5-5.
THE LAST MEETING
January 31, 2014
USC Women Lose Out To WSU, 79-75
The USC women's basketball team stumbled in its return to Galen Center tonight, taking a 79-75 loss to visiting Washington State. A messy first half had the Trojans playing catchup, and although USC worked into a slim late lead it was the Cougars who made the final winning surge to victory. The loss puts USC at 14-8 overall and 7-3 in Pac-12 play, while Washington State goes to 12-9, 6-3.
USC (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12) at Washington State (15-12, 6-10)
Pullman, Wash. -- 3 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
The USC women's basketball team makes a push to upgrade its seeding for the coming Pac-12 Tournament when the Women of Troy wrap the regular season this week with a trip through Washington. USC (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12) enters the week locked in a tie for sixth place in the conference, but a winning road trip could edge the Trojans up a notch. First up in this week's quest is a battle against Washington (20-8, 9-7) at 6 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 26) in Seattle. Then, USC will head to Pullman to take on Washington State (15-12, 6-10) at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 28).
Both games are being broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks, with Mary Murphy as analyst and Greg Heister on play-by-play for Thursday's USC-Washington game, and Cindy Brunson as analyst and Heister again on play-by-play for Saturday's game at WSU. 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. Washington is unranked but is receiving votes in the AP poll, while Washington State is unranked.
USC put together two strong outings in its final stand at Galen Center, coming up with a split on a 77-51 win over Arizona and then a heart-wrenching 76-73 double-overtime loss to No. 12 Arizona State last weekend. Against the Wildcats, USC's 77-point outing was the second highest scoring total by the Trojans in Pac-12 play this season, and their 53-percent shooting effort was their best in conference play all year. In the first half, USC erased a six-point deficit and got ahead by as much as 11 thanks to a 50-percent shooting effort in the first half of play. The Trojans were holding a 33-26 advantage by halftime, standing even on the boards at 19 apiece while the Wildcats shot 36 percent from the floor. USC would stay the course in the second half as four Trojans worked their way into double figures and the Women of Troy wrapped the game shooting 53 percent. Arizona finished up at 34 percent from the floor while USC owned the boards to the tune of a 40-31 rebounding advantage in the game. USC's offensive onslaught was led by a 14-point effort from freshman McKenzie Calvert, who also saw fellow freshmen Kristen Simon (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Amy Okonkwo (11 points) hit double digits as well. Senior Alexyz Vaioletama rounded out the four-pack of double-digit scorers with her 10 points, while Brianna Barrett served up six assists in the winning effort. Arizona received 14 points from Candice Warthen and 10 from Keyahndra Cannon as the Wildcats' top scorers. After a Senior Day celebration to honor graduating Trojans Horn and Vaioletama, the Women of Troy went toe-to-toe with the No. 12 team in the nation, battling through two overtimes against visiting Arizona State after having trailed by as much as 10 during the second half. A heroic effort from Vaioletama had USC in stride during OT, but the Sun Devils caught a late break and would hold on for a 76-73 final double-overtime victory. ASU had the hot hand in the first half, going 58 percent from the floor to eclipse an early three-point USC lead. The Trojans were hampered by a six-minute scoreless stretch from the floor while the Sun Devils crafted a run into the lead. Shooting 39 percent from the floor, USC was unable to keep pace as ASU got in a groove and grabbed a 37-29 halftime lead. USC was up to the challenge. The Trojans tightened their defense in the second half and upped their scoring pace to work into the lead for the first time since the early stages of the game. USC shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half and lead by four with 1:20 left in regulation on back-to-back scores from Horn. ASU answered and had a chance for the win from the free-throw line with 4.4 seconds, missing the mark and winding up even at 64-64 to bring up overtime. USC got the first lead of the first OT frame only to see ASU fire back and take a two-point lead in the final minute. With 18.7 seconds left, Vaioletama stepped to the line and cal my sank both free throws to equalize and help send things to a second overtime, locked up 70-70 for the 13th tie of the game. Vaiolatama would be the only Trojan to score in the second OT frame, while ASU countered with two buckets from Promise Amukamara and then got some padding from Eliza Normen to nudge ahead 76-73 in the final minute. The Sun Devil defense was effective in turning the Trojans away in the final stretch, as ASU hung on for the win. ASU would wrap the game shooting 49 percent from the floor to lead USC's 41 percent. The Trojans were stronger on the boards to the tune of a 44-33 rebounding advantage, led by Vaioletama's 12 rebounds in finishing with a powerful double-double on an 18-point outing. She was joined in double figures by fellow Horn with 11 points and another 11 from sophomore Courtney Jaco, whose three 3-pointers in the first half were key in opening up the game for the Women of Troy. Vaioletama's fifth career double-double pulled the senior up to now rank No. 11 all-time in career rebounds, taking over the spot previously held by Shay Murphy as Vaioletama now holds 727 career boards. ASU also had three players finish in double digits, led by a game-high 20 points from Amukamara. Sophie Brunner added 14 for the Sun Devils, and Elisha Davis added 11.
BIG ON THE BOARDS
The Women of Troy continue to lead the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds (14.8 per game through Feb. 22). USC was particularly impressive on the boards Jan. 23 and 25, 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, and was just off that mark with 19 O-boards grabbed at Stanford and another 19 tallied vs ASU. The top rebounders for the Trojans are Kaneisha Horn and Alexyz Vaioletama, who average 7.0 and 6.8 rebounds per game, respectively, to date. Both seniors have upped their aggression on the boards in conference play, too. Vaioletama is averaging 7.6 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play, and Horn is up to 7.3 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 10.3 points per game and standing as the team's second leading scorer, Calvert trails only sophomore Courtney Jaco in total threes made with 34 makes to date. The freshman has hit double figures in 11 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 Huskies are 20-8 overall and 9-7 in Pac-12 play after a split against Washington State last week, falling 83-72 at home and then winning 83-43 in Pullman. Kelsey Plum leads Washington in scoring with 22.9 points per game, and Aminah Williams is the top rebounder with 9.2 per game. UW returns four starters from last year's team, which went 21-14 overall with a 10-8 finish in Pac-12 play and a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals. USC is 29-31 all-time against Washington with losses in the past two meetings. Last year, USC fell 63-55 to the Huskies at Galen Center. USC also lost in its last trip to Seattle, falling 61-58 in the 2012-13 season. The Trojans' last win over Washington was an 81-72 decision at Galen Center in the 2012-13 season.
The Cougars enter the week 15-12 overall and 6-10 in Pac-12 play after a split against Washington last week, winning 83-72 in Seattle and then losing 83-43 in Pullman. Lia Galdeira is WSU's top scorer with 19.6 points per game, and Louise Brown is the top active rebounder with 6.4 per game. The Cougars return four starters from last year's team, which went 17-17 overall and finished 9-9 in Pac-12 play with a trip to the WNIT first round. USC is 44-15 all-time against Washington State with losses in the past two meetings. Last year, USC fell 79-75 to the Cougars at Galen Center. USC also lost in its last trip to Pullman, falling 57-54 in the 2012-13 season. The Trojans' last win over WSU was a 61-59 decision at Galen Center in the 2012-13 season.
A big key to success for the Trojans in 2014-15 has been a well-balanced attack. All 10 of USC's active players have each hit double digits at least once this season. And USC has had four or more different scorers hit double digits in 11 games, including four in the Feb. 13 loss at Stanford. Even in a season-opening loss at now-No.2-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. Senior Vaioletama leads all with 12.3 ppg, followed by freshman Calvert at 10.3 and senior Horn at 10.1 ppg. Junior Barrett is just off the mark at 9.4 ppg to date. As a team, USC has shot over 50 percent from the floor in seven games (all wins) and is shooting 41.8 percent overall, including a 32.1 percent effort from beyond the arc. Outside of two wins vs. Utah, the first at Colorado and the Feb. 15 win at Cal, 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, Oregon and ASU). The anomalies were big wins with just three double-digit scorers at Colorado and at Cal, at home vs. Utah, and then a low-scoring win at Utah with a season-low 46 points on 30.4 percent shooting with just Barrett finishing in double digits. The Feb. 13 loss at Stanford was the first time this season that USC has had four double-digit scorers and lost the game.
TIME TO SHINE
Now 27 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 12.3 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 7.0 points per game to go along with 3.9 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 10.1 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 7.3 ppg this season for the Women of Troy with 21 starts. Jaco also stands as USC's top 3-point shooter with 45 makes to date, ranking her No. 16 all-time in single-season threes, while her 39.5% 3-point percentage ranks her 10th.
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 10.3 points per game with six starts in her 24 appearances, and is shooting 35.8 percent from 3-point range. Simon has stepped in for 25 games and is averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Okonkwo has appeared in 24 games and is averaging 3.0 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 0-7 against ranked teams (No. 2 South Carolina, No. 16 Oklahoma State, No. 11/7 Oregon State, No. 11/19 Stanford and No. 12 ASU).
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.
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).