Trojans look to end Pac-12 regular-season play on a winning note at Arizona and ASU.
Feb. 26, 2013
USC WBB Release
The USC women's basketball team looks to put a tough month of February behind and take aim at making a strong statement in March. The Women of Troy will wrap up the regular season with a visit to Arizona this weekend as teams try to strengthen their spots in the Pac-12 standings with the tournament fast approaching. USC (8-19, 5-11 Pac-12) first aims to complete a season sweep of Arizona (12-15, 4-12) in a 7 p.m. PT matchup on Friday (March 1) in Tucson. Then the Trojans will look to avenge last month's loss to Arizona State when USC takes a trip to Tempe to square off against the Sun Devils (3-15, 5-11) at 12 p.m. PT on Sunday (March 3.)
THE LAST MEETING
January 27, 2013
USC Women Team Up For 74-57 Win Over Arizona
The USC women's basketball team snapped a three-game slump in piecing together two strong halves against visiting Arizona for a 74-57 Trojan win today at Galen Center. Cassie Harberts shouldered the bulk of the load once again, but this time had three other teammates in double figures for the hot-shooting Women of Troy. USC improves to 8-11 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play with the win, while Arizona moves to 11-8, 3-5.
THE LAST MEETING
January 25, 2013
USC Women Suffer Second-Half Breakdown, Fall 60-53 To ASU
The USC women's basketball team lost control of the game in the second half tonight, watching Arizona State fight back from a 16-point halftime deficit as the Sun Devils rank away with a 60-53 win over the host Trojans tonight at Galen Center. Cassie Harberts was the only player on the floor with double digits, as she hauled in a double-double. ASU had no double-digit scorers, but the Sun Devils' improvement in the second half did the job. USC goes to 7-11 overall and 4-3 in Pac-12 play with the loss, while ASU improves to 11-8, 3-4.
Friday's game at Arizona will be televised by Pac-12 Networks, with Ann Schatz and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude on the call. Sunday's game will be STREAMED LIVE
. 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. Arizona and Arizona State both are also unranked.
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
USC played back-to-back games against crosstown rival UCLA last week, taking on the No. 17 Bruins twice to follow up a weekend of action against No. 4 Stanford and No. 6 Cal. After four games against top-20 opponents in 10 days, the Trojans would wind up in an eight-game losing skid, having fallen 68-54 to UCLA on Tuesday at Galen Center and then taking a 63-58 loss to the Bruins on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. Up against its third ranked opponent in five days, the Trojans ran out of gas against the Bruins on Tuesday 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. On Sunday, however, USC made some good adjustments came up just short of the Bruins. USC wrapped up a rough and busy February with its second loss to rival UCLA in less than a week. The Trojans put pressure on their No. 17-ranked hosts, but couldn't make up for a turnover-plagued first half and wound up its eighth straight loss. Both teams were hitting a a 30-percent clip from the floor in the first half, although USC was plagued by 17 first-half turnovers to hamper the Trojans' offensive efforts. USC was up on the boards 25-20 but behind on the scoreboard 27-22 at the half. USC would trail by as much as 15 points during the second half, but cut the lead down to one with three minutes to go. The Bruins would keep the Women of Troy at bay down the stretch, though, thanks in part to five 3-pointers nailed in the game. USC finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor, with the Bruins hitting at 37 percent. The teams finished up even at 42 rebounds apiece, and USC had 22 turnovers to 18 by UCLA. Cassie Harberts secured her 14th career double-double today with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds. Ariya Crook added 16 points for the Trojans, and Brianna Barrett served up eight assists. UCLA had three players in double figures: Thea Lemberger and Nirra Fields with 12 each and 11 from Markel Walker.
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 an eight-game losing streak -- all in the month of February. 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 13 different starting lineups this season with injuries and adjustments made in an effort to find a winning combination. WIth 19 losses overall, USC has the second most losses in a single season in program history. In 1998-99, USC lost 20 games. EIght of USC's 11 Pac-12 losses have come by single digits, including three 3-point losses by the Trojans.
USC has come up winless in the month of February, but not by much. Five of those losses have been by singles digits, with four losses coming by five or fewer points. This Pac-12 season as a whole has seen the Trojans play seven games decided by five or fewer points, going 3-4 in those contests. By comparison, USC was 4-2 last season in Pac-12 games with a margin of five or fewer points, 3-1 in 2010-11 and 8-0 in 2009-10. The last losing record in such games was in 2008-09, when USC was 0-4.
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. Marinacci has climbed to No. 11 all-time in career rebounds at USC, needing just nine more to crack the top-10.
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 this recent stretch, 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 1,218 career points to date she has taken over at No. 16 all time at USC. She is hands-down USC's current season leader in scoring (17.9 pg) and rebounding (7.9 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 180-of-258 (.698) tally to date to push her to No. 5 all-time in career free throws made (400). Harberts also leads the nation in free throws attempted this season with 258. That count ranks her third all-time at USC in that single-season category, and her 180 makes also has her at No. 3 all-time at USC. Harberts opened this season with three consecutive double-doubles and has since added five more to hold 14 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 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 Wildcats are 12-15 overall and 4-12 in Pac-12 play after losing twice to ASU last week, 81-77 in overtime and 59-58. Davellyn Whyte leads Arizona with 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds. Niya Butts is in her fifth season as head coach of the Wildcats, who went 15-17 overall and finished last in the Pac-12 at 3-15 last season. USC is 51-20 all-time against Arizona after beating the Wildcats 74-57 on Feb. 27 at Galen Center. USC also swept Arizona last season with a 72-67 win in Tucson and a 78-62 win at Galen Center last year.
The Sun Devils are 13-15 overall and 5-11 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona twice last week, 81-77 in overtime and 59-58. Janae Fulcher leads the team in scoring with 11.0 points per game, and Joy Burke leads on the boards with 6.2 rebounds per game. Charli Turner Thorne is in her 16th season as head coach of the Sun Devils, who went 2012 overall in reaching the WNIT First Round last season after finishing fourth at 10-8 in Pac-12 play. USC is 52-19 all-time against ASU after taking a 60-53 loss to the Sun Devils at Galen Center on Feb. 25. USC swept ASU last season with a 60-48 win in Tempe and a 59-53 victory at Galen Center in 2012.
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 this 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 100 points in USC's 16 Pac-12 games to date (6.3 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 added a class of freshmen that ranked 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 freshman class also included 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) during 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. Barrett returned to the starting lineup on Sunday at UCLA, and served up eight assists.
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 4.9 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.
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.
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.