USC Women Earn No. 4 Seed Into Pac-10 Tournament
Trojans open against No. 5 seed UCLA on Saturday.
March 4, 2008
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USC pushes through to the postseason this week as the No. 4 seed once again into the Pac-10 Tournament. The Women of Troy come out of the regular season with a 17-12 overall record and finish with a 10-8 Pac-10 mark, finishing tied for fourth with UCLA. The Trojans' two wins over the Bruins in Pac-10 play, however, assured USC the No. 4 seed, while UCLA takes the No. 5 seed, setting up a third USC-UCLA clash this season in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. USC will take on UCLA at 7:15 on Saturday (March 8) at HP Pavilion in San Jose. The winner will move into the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (March 9). The Pac-10 championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday (March 10).
Live audio for all USC games at the Pac-10 Tournament will be available online at www.usctrojans.com. Live streaming video of Saturday's USC-UCLA game will be available at www.pac-10.org. The semifinals and final will be televised live by FSN.
Conference champion Stanford (27-3, 16-2) is the top seed into the Pac-10 Tournament. Cal (24-5, 15-3) is the No. 2 seed and Arizona State (20-9, 14-4) is the No. 3 seed. Coming in behind No. 4 seed USC and No. 5 UCLA are No. 6 Washington (13-17, 8-10), No. 7 Oregon (13-16, 7-11), No. 8 Oregon State (11-18, 4-14), No. 9 Arizona (10-19, 4-14) and No. 10 Washington State (5-24, 2-16).
IN THE NATION
USC remains unranked in the national polls this week. The Pac-10's two ranked teams are No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Cal, while Arizona State is receiving votes in the polls.
USC VS. UCLA
USC is 41-31 all-time against crosstown rival UCLA after winning their seventh straight over the Bruins in a 49-36 decision that saw the Trojans hold the Bruins to their lowest scoring game in history. UCLA's last win came in a 62-61 victory on Dec. 28, 2004 at Pauley Pavilion. This will be the first time USC and UCLA have played in the Pac-10 Tournament.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
Entering the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament last season, USC was 16-12 overall and earned the No. 5 seed in the tourney with a 10-8 record. The Trojans faced No. 4 seed Washington in the quarterfinals for the second straight year, and USC came up with an 81-77 win to move into the semifinals. There, USC played top-seeded Stanford for the third consecutive year, and the Cardinal posted a 67-52 win to close out USC's season with a 17-13 overall record.
USC suffered its first losing slump at home in the final weekend of Pac-10 regular-season play, falling 64-62 to Arizona and 65-57 to Arizona State. In USC's first Pac-10 game with all its active players available, the Trojans saw their leading scorer, center Nadia Parker, go down with a knee injury after playing just eight minutes. Point guard Camille LeNoir worked hard to fill the void, delivering a game-high 16 points and five assists for the Women of Troy, while Morghan Medlock had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. But Arizona got four players into double figures and won out on the boards to keep an edge on the Trojans. Parker's injury came with 7:30 to go in the first half after she had scored four points and grabbed two rebounds in 8 minutes on the court. USC held a six-point lead when Parker was sidelined, and took a 29-21 lead into halftime thanks to a 41-percent shooting effort from the floor and three 3-pointers to Arizona's 28 percent shooting effort in the first half. In the second half, Arizona's shooting percentage upped to 52 percent, while USC slowed and also fell behind on the boards. The Trojans finished by shooting 36 percent in the game compared to 40 percent from Arizona, and the Wildcats outrebounded the Women of Troy 43-35. Entering the weekend, Parker was providing 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. In the Trojans' home finale, USC had a strong showing against Arizona State, but came up short of the Sun Devils, falling 65-57. USC again was without leading scorer and rebounder Parker for the game, but got a game-high 19 points from LeNoir. The teams battled through eight lead changes in the game and each hit six 3-pointers on the day. Shooting percentages also were evenly matched, as USC came away with a 41.2 percent effort from the floor and ASU hit at a 41.8 percent clip. LeNoir was USC's only player in double figures, and Morghan Medlock had a game-high nine rebounds for the Trojans. ASU got 14 points from Lauren Lacey - including a 3-for-3 effort from 3-point range - and had 11 points from Jill Noe and 10 from Kirsten Thompson. ASU held a 10-board rebounding advantage at halftime, but USC picked up the pace and cut the final count to 37-32. USC moved ahead 37-33 with 13:50 left in the game, but Arizona State manufactured an 18-2 run to force the Trojans to try for a late comeback. LeNoir scored 10 points in the last three minutes of the game, but the Sun Devils held on to keep control in the win.
Out of action: Junior center Nadia Parker (partial tear left MCL, sustained Feb. 28 vs. Arizona). In addition to the loss of redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos and true freshman Stephanie Gilbreath following offseason knee surgeries, sophomore guard Aarika Hughes had been sidelined indefinitely by a foot injury as of Jan. 21, but she returned on Feb. 23 vs. OSU. Freshman center Kari LaPlante had been out with a foot injury as of Feb. 7 until returning on Feb. 17 against UCLA. Morghan Medlock missed the last Oregon series with injury but returned to the lineup on Jan. 31. Gemelos, Gilbreath and Medlock all came to USC as McDonald's All-Americans, and Hughes has participated at the U.S. Under-20 National Team trials. USC was without Heather Oliver against OSU on Feb. 23 after the sophomore suffered a concussion at Oregon on Feb. 21, but she returned on Feb. 28.
Brynn Cameron set USC records from 3-point range as a freshman, but had been sidelined since October 2006 by hip surgeries as well as the birth of her son Cole. In her first two games back in action, the junior guard stepped right back into her comfort zone outside the arc. Cameron led USC in scoring in USC's first two games this year, knocking down four 3-pointers in each game. Now with 38 threes this season, Cameron ranks No. 3 all-time with 129 career 3-pointers -- three shy of former teammate Jamie Hagiya at No. 2
Greatly missed from the USC lineup last season was point guard Camille LeNoir, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Following surgery, the junior returned to the floor this season as a redshirt junior, and wasted little time getting right back to her impressive ways on court. She's set up camp as USC's second leading scorer this season, averaging 10.9 points, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Against Cal State Fullerton, LeNoir matched Trojan great Cheryl Miller's 100 percent effort on the floor from 1985, coming one short of Miller's 10-of-10 outing by going 9-for-9 and finishing with a season-high 19 points. LeNoir also served up a career-high eight assists in USC's Pac-10 opener against Arizona, and knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers in USC's upset win over then-No. 2 Stanford. With two more threes against Oregon on Jan. 26, LeNoir passed up current USC assistant coach Jody (Anton) Wynn in the record books, and LeNoir now stands alone at USC's No. 4 all-time at USC in career threes with 114. Against UCLA on Feb. 17, LeNoir added seven assists to her season tally, pushing her into the all-time top 10 at USC. She has since moved up to now rank No. 9 with 337 career assists (110 this season).
Nadia Parker made herself well at home in the Bahamas, serving up 28 points and 18 rebounds in the two games on her way to her first-ever Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. The junior center had a career day in USC's comeback win over Virginia Tech, tallying career highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds (also her first career double-double) and a shooting percentage of 9-of-11 (.818) to help spark USC to victory. She has since hit a new career high, scoring 23 points in a win over WSU on Feb. 10. Parker has now recorded a total of five double-doubles, most recently grabbing 10 rebounds and adding 18 points in USC's Feb. 17 win over UCLA. Parker stands tall as USC's leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and top rebounder (6.7 rpg). She hit double figures in 18 of USC's 28 games and held a streak of six straight double-digit outings until a knee injury knocked her out of action early against Arizona on Feb. 28. Her return is unlikely.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
The first thing fans and followers will notice about this season's pack of Women of Troy is a group of faces who haven't quite been on the forefront of the Trojan lineup in a while. Three players who redshirted last season due to injuries et al are back in the mix. Standout point guard Camille LeNoir has healed up following hip surgery; Markisha Lea steps back in as a senior with cartilage intact in her knee; Brynn Cameron sustained her second hip surgery and gave birth to her first child on her way back to the court. Further balancing out the departure of five 2007 graduates are a pair of seniors who have extended their Trojan careers in unique ways. Kate Henderson and Allison Jaskowiak were freshmen together in 2003-04. Henderson wound up transferring after that season, but has since returned to USC and has worked her way back into the picture. Jaskowiak was granted a medical redshirt for that freshman season and has thus received another season of eligibility that allows her to return for her final year on the Trojan roster. With LeNoir, Cameron and Jaskowiak alone back on the court, USC has tapped back into the talent pool that helped spark the Women of Troy's resurgence to the NCAA Tournament scene with back-to-back postseason runs in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Known for their stifling defense, USC seniors Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks have also come up strong on the offensive end this season. Jelks averaged 2.6 points per game last season as a junior, and has upped her tally to 4.7 ppg so far this season to help in USC's balanced offensive effort. Jaskowiak has also increased her offensive role, going from 3.1 ppg last season to 3.8 this year. The two seniors have already tallied more 3-pointers than they hit all of last season. Jelks has nailed 16 to doubles up last year's mark of seven, and Jaskowiak has knocked down 18 so far to beat last year's 11.
Adding a serious depth charge to the backcourt is transfer Heather "Ollie" Oliver, a member of the Australian Under-21 National Team, which won silver at the U-21 Women's World Championships this summer. She brings a smooth outside shot as well as stifling defensive abilities to the Trojan roster. She tallied her first points as a Trojan with a nine-point outing against Colorado on Nov. 18, and has now become a mainstay in the starting lineup, starting 19 straight games until a concussion kept her out of the game at OSU on Feb. 23. Honored as the Women of Troy Classic MVP, she now is averaging 8.0 points per game after setting new career highs with 21 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers against Washington State on Feb. 10. She has posted double-digit efforts in nine games and is third on the team with 28 threes made.
USC boasts a couple of different looks to the point this season, as 5-6 junior floor general Camille LeNoir returns to action after a year out to heal from hip surgery. She's complimented by 6-2 sophomore Hailey Dunham. Despite the height difference, the pair combine forces well in running the Trojans offense, each bringing their own spark to keep opposing defenses on their toes. LeNoir had her return to the court this season delayed a week, but when the junior point guard hit the floor for her first game against Colorado on Nov. 18, she came out strong with nine points and three assists in the game. The Trojan point guard tandem of Dunham (144 pts, 63 asts) and LeNoir (294 pts, 110 asts) is averaging 15.9 points and 6.3 assists per game.
DUNHAM DOES IT ALL
When fellow sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock were both out of the lineup with injuries, Hailey Dunham had to expand her role from back-up point guard to a flexible guard/forward that has put the sophomore in the 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots on the court for the Women of Troy. So far so good, as the flexible 6-2 Dunham showed her versatility during that stretch with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and a 4-for-4 free-throw effort in games against OSU and Oregon for the Trojans. She averages 5.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
With her true freshman counterpart redshirting the season, center Kari LaPlante has carried the torch as the lone freshman on the court for the Trojans this year, although a foot injury sidelined LaPlante for two games (Feb. 8 and 10). Freshman guard Stefanie Gilbreath will redshirt following offseason knee surgery. At 6-5, LaPlante towers as the tallest Trojan on the roster. She tallied her first points as a Trojan in USC's win over Colorado on Nov. 18, putting in two points and pulling down six rebounds for the Women of Troy. After a career night against OSU on Jan. 24 when she led USC with 13 points and three more double-figure outings, LaPlante now averages 4.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
The Women of Troy welcome three new members to the Trojan family this season. Assistant coach Jody Wynn recently gave birth to her second daughter, Kaeli, in October 2007, and junior Brynn Cameron has her son, Cole, who turned 1 in October. And senior Allison Jaskowiak added a new name to her roster page when she married former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy in October.
Although injuries have hampered the amount of time they've been able to spend on the court recently, sophomores Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock both have stepped up as key contributors in their second season at Troy. Both versatile players with ball-handling skills and a slick 3-point shot to go along with size and strength, the pair picked up the pace on all accounts this year. Hughes and Medlock combined for 9.0 points per game last season, and have averaged a combined 12.5 this year. Hughes upped a freshman year average of 2.6 ppg and seven total 3-pointers to a sophomore campaign where she averages 5.8 ppg and has nailed 18 threes. Medlock produced 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman and has delivered 6.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg this season after capturing her third double-double of the season against Arizona on Feb. 28.
INJURY BUG BITES BACK
It seemed to be the storyline of the 2006-07 season, but the injury bug hasn't seemed to shake completely loose of the Women of Troy yet. USC will have two players sidelined this season with torn ACLs. For redshirt freshman Jacki Gemelos -- considered the best player in the country coming out of high school in 2006 -- it is an all-too-familiar situation. Gemelos tore her ACL in her final high school game before coming to USC, redshirting her first season. She then reinjured the same knee in the offseason, bringing up a second surgery and pushing the highly anticipated guard's return to the floor back further. True freshman Stefanie Gilbreath endured the same injury just before the 2007 McDonald's All-American Game, leaving the Trojans short another outstanding newcomer for the 2007-08 season.
USC used nine different players in its starting lineup rotations last year. Six players who saw time as starters return for 2007-08 -- sophomores Hailey Dunham, Aarika Hughes and Morghan Medlock and seniors Nicole Berberet, Allison Jaskowiak and Simone Jelks. This year USC is on a similar page, with nine different players getting at least one starting nod, as the Trojans have utilized eight different starting lineups.