USC Women Set Off For Seattle To Engage In Action At Pac-12 Tournament|
Feb. 28, 2017
2017 Pac-12 Tournament
KeyArena | Seattle
Thurs., March 2 --  California (Pac-12 Net.) -- 11:30 a.m.
Fri., March 3 --  Oregon State (Pac-12 Net.) -- 11:30 a.m.
Sat., March 4 -- Semifinals (Pac-12 Net.) -- 6 p.m.
Sun., March 5 -- (ESPN2) -- 6 p.m.
USC continues its road-heavy late stretch of the 2016-17 season with a journey to Seattle for the action at the 2017 Pac-12 Tournament. The Trojans' fourth road trip in five weeks will see USC settle in for competition at KeyArena, standing as the No. 9 seed in this year's tourney. The Women of Troy (14-15) will open this year's run with a first-round clash against No. 8 seeded California (18-12) at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (March 2) at KeyArena. A win in that game would advance the Trojans into the quarterfinals against top-seeded Oregon State at 11:30 a.m. on Friday (March 3). The path from there would include an 6 p.m. semifinal on Saturday (March 4) followed by the championship game at 6 p.m. on Sunday (March 5).USC is now three years removed from its historic run to the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament Championship, where the fifth-seeded Trojans became the first team ever to win four games in the tournament.
Pac-12 Networks will be televising the first three rounds of competition at the Pac-12 Tournament, with Anne Marie Anderson, Tammy Blackburn, Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy in rotation on the calls and with Jill Savage working on the sideline. Sunday's championship will be televised on ESPN2. Live stats for all games will be available through the tournament central page at pac-12.com/womens-basketball/womens-basketball-tournament. Live streaming broadcasts are also available online to Pac-12 Network subscribers at pac-12.com/live/. All USC games will also have live audio with play-by-play from Rahshaun Haylock available through links on the USC women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC finished up last season with the No. 8 seed after going 6-12 in Pac-12 play and taking an 18-12 record into the conference tournament. Up against No. 9 seed Washington State in the first round of the tourney, USC topped the Cougars 77-73 to advance to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Oregon State. In a rematch of the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament title match, it was the Beavers who would prevail in this one, beating the Trojans 63-53 to close down USC's season with a 19-13 overall record.
USC shocked everyone but itself in 2014, winning the program's first-ever Pac-12 Tournament Championship under first-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. In the championship game, the No. 5 seeded Trojans barely blinked when No. 3 seed Oregon State took an 11-point lead in the first half, and USC would drive right past the Beavers in the second half to win it all with a 71-62 final victory. USC had muscled top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Stanford out of the title match for the first time in history with a 72-68 semifinal upset. The Trojans had kick-started their winning rally with a 59-54 win over No. 12 seeded Arizona in the opening round. Another tight battle would ensue in the quarterfinals, where USC notched its first upset of the tourney with a 59-57 over No. 4 seed Arizona State. USC was the first team in the conference tournament's history to play four games in the four-day event, let alone the first team to WIN all four of those games. The relentless effort of the Women of Troy got them to a 22-12 overall record and punched a ticket to the 2014 NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid, marking the first time since 2006 that USC made an appearance in the tourney.
In the fifth game of the season (Nov. 23), redshirt senior Jordan Adams suffered a season-ending ACL tear (left knee). She was averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game before being sidelined for the season. Dani Milisic was sidelined for the first four games (knee) and was cleared to play for her first action on Nov. 23. Aliyah Mazyck missed five games (Jan. 1-15) with injury (foot). Mazyck then missed six more games (Jan. 27-Feb. 12) with the same issue, returning to action on Feb. 17. Marguerite Effa missed four games (Dec. 30-Jan. 8) with injury and has not played the past three games. Kristen Simon missed three games (Jan. 13-18) for personal reasons. Valerie Higgins missed the Jan. 15 game vs. OSU with injury (knee).
MORE FOR MOORE
After leading the Women of Troy in scoring in three straight games, Minyon Moore grabbed her second selection of the season as Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Jan. 20 and also upgraded her honors with her pick as the USBWA National Freshman of the Week. In a key rematch against Washington State, Moore had 18 points by halftime and went on to finish out the USC victory with a 32-point performance. That marked the most points by a Trojan since 2014. Two days later, Moore led the Trojans once again, putting up 20 points and dishing out six assists in a loss to No. 9 Washington. While nailing two 3-pointers in each game, Moore also made a strong stand at the free-throw line in both games, going 14-of-17 against WSU and 6-of-8 against Washington. USC's second leading scorer to date with 11.8 points per game, Moore leads the team in assists (4.0 per game) and in steals (2.0 per game)
USC BY THE NUMBERS
Led by Kristen Simon's team-high 14.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, the Women of Troy have put together a 14-15 overall record to date with wins over four ranked teams. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to 64.9 points per game and has forced 18.2 turnovers per game by its opponents. As a team, USC is averaging 69.7 points per game, shooting .426 from the floor and .710 from the free-throw line. Individually, USC has three players averaging double digits. The group of scoring leaders has Simon on top with her 14.5 ppg, followed by freshman Minyon Moore with 11.8 ppg, and senior Courtney Jaco at 10.8 ppg. USC's top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 4.0 assists per game. Moore also leads the team in steals with 2.0 spg.
ON THE RISE
USC senior guard Courtney Jaco's 3-point threat has been well established, and the sharpshooter continues to climb in the USC record books. She started her senior season ranked as USC's No. 5 all-time 3-point shooter. With 68 threes landed this season, she has made a total takeover of the No. 2 spot in USC history. She matched Shay Murphy at No. 3 with three 3-pointers landed vs. OSU on Jan. 15. And with a career-best seven 3-pointers nailed vs. UCLA on Jan. 18 -- matching the single-game record set by leader Ashley Corral -- Jaco launched herself past Brynn Cameron to take over at No. 2 all-time. Jaco's current tally is 213 career threes made. She also stands as USC's most productive 3-point shooter with a career average of 38.7% from beyond the arc to date. Jaco also is the only Trojan to significantly up her production in Pac-12 play. She's averaging 11.6 points, 1.6 steals and 1.9 rebounds per game in conference play, while shooting 85.7 percent from the free-throw line to outpace her respective overall season marks of 10.8 ppg, 1.3 spg, 1.7 rpg and 77.8 FT%. With 68 threes landed this season, Jaco is four makes away from tying her personal season best of 72 -- second best all-time by a Trojan -- which she hit last season as a junior.
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in 10 of her 26 appearances this season, including back-to-back double-double outings at the Great Alaska Shootout, where she was named Most Outstanding Player at the tournament. After two more double-doubles collected at home vs. WSU and UW, she now boasts 18 career double-doubles, and still holds the rights to one of USC's most dominant recent rebounding effort in her 21-board game last season. That marked the fourth most single-game rebounds ever collected by a Trojan, placing her just behind efforts by such USC greats as Lisa Leslie and Cheryl Miller. After setting a new career high for herself with a 23-point outing at Sacramento State, and delivering a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line in USC's upset of Texas A&M, Simon was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Dec. 5. She has since upped that career best with a 25-point day at WSU on Jan. 8.
PUNCH FROM THE BENCH
USC freshman guard Minyon Moore was the first 20-point scorer this season (vs. UC Riverside) and also served up a whopping 11 assists (vs. Missouri State) --- the most in a single game by a Trojan since Briana Gilbreath in 2012. Against Long Beach State, she set a new career high for herself with 23 points. And at Sacramento State, the freshman dished out 15 assists -- second most ever by a Trojan and the most since Rhonda Windham delivered 17 in 1982. Those efforts all came off the bench from Moore. After her stellar showing in wins at Texas A&M and Sacramento State, Moore was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Dec. 5. Moore's first career start came on Jan. 15 against OSU. Most recently, Moore hit the history books again, scoring 32 points to stand as the first USC 30-point scorer since 2014. She'd grab another set of Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors and was selected as the USBWA National Freshman of the Week on Feb. 20 after that weekend's performance, in which she also added 20 points vs. No. 9 Washington.
A WELCOME HOMECOMING
USC kicked off homecoming weekend with a true reunion, welcoming home Trojan great Cheryl Miller for USC's exhibition clash against Cal State LA on Nov. 4. Miller is in her first year at the helm of CSULA, and her trip to Troy marked a rare opportunity for two former NCAA championship teammates and fellow Hall of Famers to face off. Miller and USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke were reunited on the court of their shared alma mater, with a pregame ceremony held to honor Miller's visit to Troy, with many former Women of Troy in attendance for the game.
PLAYING THE LONG GAME
The first thing opponents will notice about the 2016-17 Trojans is their size. USC opens the year with five players standing 6-foot-3 or taller -- a first for any USC roster in program history. In the past two decades, no USC roster has had more than three players with that kind of height. Such a notable influx has upped the Trojans' post presence, adding key balance to pair with its returning backcourt savvy. Led by 6-foot-6 senior transfer Ivana Jakubcova -- the tallest Trojan since 6-6 Monica Lamb in the 1980s -- USC's lofty post presence includes 6-4 Dani Milisic and a trio of Trojans standing at 6-3 in Marguerite Effa, Asiah Jones and Ja'Tavia Tapley.
Three years ago, the Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament title for the first time in program history and got back to the NCAA Tournament after several years of near misses. Three members of that 2014 squad remain -- Jordan Adams, Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd -- to help guide their 2016-17 team toward another postseason appearance, The loss of redshirt senior Adams was a hit to the Trojans, but fellow seniors Jaco and Lloyd and juniors Sadie Edwards and Kristen Simon have stepped up their leadership roles to help keep the bar high for their team.
Redshirt freshman Dani Milisic has checked in for her first action as a Trojan this season alongside true freshmen Minyon Moore, Valerie Higgins, Asiah Jones and Ja'Tavia Tapley, while USC welcomes the savvy and skill of grad student transfer Ivana Jakubcova. USC's supersized post presence is comprised of 6-foot-6 Jakubcova, 6-4 Milisic and a trio of 6-3 youngsters in Effa, Jones and Tapley. Altogether, USC's four true freshmen (Higgins, Jones, Moore and Tapley) have combined for 699 points (24.1 ppg) -- 36% of USC's overall production -- to date.
The team got an early dose of experience together this summer with a trip to Italy, where the Trojans combined incredible cultural experiences in Pisa, Venice, Florence, Treviso and Rome with valuable game action against international squads. It was an powerful chance to grow as a team. From bike rides along the Sile River, to climbing the Tower of Pisa, to photo ops in the Colosseum in Rome (a little older than the one in Los Angeles!), the Women of Troy made many lasting memories. Plus, they got to hit the court for three games against pro and semi-pro teams from Italy, Germany and Lithuania, offering up a fantastic opportunity for new teammates to get comfortable on-court as a team.
USC finished up the 2015-16 season with a 19-13 overall record in head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's third season at Troy. USC's 13th win of the year also notched Cooper-Dyke's 200th career win as a head coach. The Trojans had opened up the year with a 12-0 record, doubling up on its most recent best season start of 6-0, last hit in 1993-94 with Cheryl Miller as head coach. The 12-0 start was the best opening for the Women of Troy since an 18-0 start in the 1981-82 season. After opening up 12-0, however, USC had two key Trojans sidelined with eligibility issues, which interrupted USC's flow the rest of the way. USC would go 6-12 in Pac-12 play and reach the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. At the close of the season, senior Temi Fagbenle would earn WBCA All-Region honors to go along with her spot on the All-Pac-12 Team. Courtney Jaco also earned conference accolades with All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention. Fagbenle had led the Trojans in scoring (13.6 ppg), rebounds (8.7 rpg) and steals (1.8 spg) while Jaco ruled the backcourt, adding 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game to go along with her 72 three-pointers made.
USC sent a shockwave through Corvallis with a resounding 70-50 upset win of No. 9 Oregon State last week. USC shrugged off a second-half tie and hit the gas to maneuver out ahead of the Beavers on a total team effort by the Trojans. The win is USC's fourth over a ranked team this year and first since the Trojans upset No. 4 Stanford in the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. USC's next victim that year? Oregon State in the championship match. That was the Trojans' last win over the Beavers, and tonight's 20-point victory is just one shy of USC's next-largest win over the Beavers -- an 81-60 victory earlier in that 2013-14 season. It was USC's first win in Corvallis since 2012-13.The Trojans caught fire in the first frame, hitting at a 60-percent clip while maneuvering out of a seven-point deficit and out to a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Sadie Edwards was in double digits by the end of those first 10 minutes for the Trojans. In the second quarter, OSU finally got some momentum on its side as fouls mounted against USC. Only eight points registered for USC in the second quarter, but the Trojans still gripped a 29-26 lead at the break. USC shot 43 percent from the floor to OSU's 40 percent in that first half of action. In the second half, USC turned up the juice, shooting 54 percent in the last 20 minutes to outpace OSU's 30 percent in those last 20 minutes. The final count had USC hitting a 48-percent clip from the floor while OSU shot 35 percent. The Beavers edged out the Trojans 35-33 on the boards but committed 20 turnovers that saw USC turn into 28 points. USC nabbed 14 steals, led by a career-high five from Valerie Higgins. By the final buzzer, USC had Sadie Edwards with a game-high 17 points, joined in double digits by Courtney Jaco with 15 points and Kristen Simon with 14. OSU had one Beaver in double digits with Sydney Wiese (17).
USC has hauled in two key Californians with the signing of Shalexxus Aaron and Destiny Littleton to national letters of intent. Shalexxus Aaron will come to Troy from Martin Luther King High in Riverside, and is actually already a member of the Trojan Family by blood. Her brother, Shaqquan, is a redshirt sophomore on the USC men's basketball team. A 6-1 guard, Aaron was ranked as the #16 guard in the nation by ESPN, was league MVP as a freshman and participated in the USA Under-16 and under-17 team trials. A 5-9 guard, Destiny Littleton was ranked as the #9 guard in the nation by ESPN, Littleton was the 2014 CIF Freshman of the Year, 2015 CIF Sophomore of the Year, 2016 CIF Junior of the Year. On Jan. 14 of this year, Littleton broke the California state scoring record.