Women's Basketball
    USC Women Seeded No. 7 For 2013 Pac-12 Tournament
    The Women of Troy are off to Seattle to make their postseason push.
    The Women of Troy are off to Seattle to make their postseason push.

    March 5, 2013

    USC WBB Pac-12 Tourn NotesGet Acrobat Reader

    USC VIRTUAL GUIDE & RECORD BOOK

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC56
    Oregon State55
    January 4, 2013
    Corvallis, Ore.
    Vaioletama Scores Buzzer Beater For USC Road Win
    Rims on the road aren't always friendly to visiting teams. Cassie Harberts found that out the hard way when her two late free throws rimmed out to leave USC still trailing by one with six seconds to go in tonight at Oregon State. But Harberts' otherwise hot hand helped keep the heat off her teammates in the final minutes, and it was sophomore Alexyz Vaioletama who got the friendly winning roll on her buzzer-beating layup to get USC a 56-55 win over Oregon State tonight in Corvallis. The victory snaps a six-game losing skid by the Trojans, who now have their Pac-12 opening win in hand for a 1-0 start to conference play coupled by a 4-8 overall record. The Beavers go to 6-7, 0-1 with the wild finish to tonight's game.

    THE LAST MEETING
    California72
    USC64
    February 17, 2013
    Galen Center
    Trojans Fall to No. 6 Golden Bears, 72-64
    Cassie Harberts led USC (8-17, 5-9) with 20 points and Ariya Crook added 15 points.

    THE LAST MEETING
    Love & Basketball (Exhibition)63
    USC79
    October 28, 2008
    Galen Center
    USC Women Tally 79-63 Win In Exhibition Play
    The USC women's basketball team got contributions from eight Trojans on Tuesday night in exhibition action at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy dealt out a 79-63 win over Love & Basketball in USC's first competition of the season, receiving a double-double from sophomore center Kari LaPlante along with double digit scoring from three other Trojans on the night. Love & Basketball's Jessica Cheeks - a former Trojan - led all scorers with 22 points.

    THE LAST MEETING
    Love & Basketball (Exhibition)63
    USC79
    October 28, 2008
    Galen Center
    USC Women Tally 79-63 Win In Exhibition Play
    The USC women's basketball team got contributions from eight Trojans on Tuesday night in exhibition action at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy dealt out a 79-63 win over Love & Basketball in USC's first competition of the season, receiving a double-double from sophomore center Kari LaPlante along with double digit scoring from three other Trojans on the night. Love & Basketball's Jessica Cheeks - a former Trojan - led all scorers with 22 points.

    PAC-12 TOURNAMENT CENTRAL

    THIS WEEK
    The USC women's basketball team is off to a winning start in March and is aiming to keep that streak rolling during action at the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament, held this year at KeyArena in Seattle. The Trojans captured the No. 7 seed into the tourney after a road sweep last week to wrap up the regular season and finish conference play with a 7-11 record. Now, USC (10-19) opens the Pac-12 Tournament with a matchup against No. 10 seed Oregon State (10-20) at 12 p.m. on Thursday (March 7). A win there would put the Trojans up against No. 2 seeded California (17-1) in a 12 p.m. quarterfinal on Friday (March 8). The path from there would include a 6 p.m. semifinal on Saturday (March 9) followed by the championship game held at 5 p.m. on Sunday (March 10).

    FOLLOW ALONG
    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. Sunday's championship will be televised on ESPN2. Live stats for all games will be available at Pac-12 Tournament Central.

    USC-OREGON STATE LIVE STATS

    IN THE NATION
    USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. The Pac-12 has four teams ranked nationally in the AP poll: #4 Stanford, #5 California, #14 UCLA and #18 Colorado.

    THIS TIME LAST YEAR
    With six straight victories to close the regular season, USC carried its longest win streak of the season into the 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Basketball Tournament as the No. 3 seed. That gave the Trojans (18-11) a bye into the quarterfinal round, where USC would face No. 11 seed Washington State, which had upset No. 6 seeded Oregon State in the first round. The upset-minded Cougars caught the Trojans off-guard, too, hitting over 50-percent from 3-point land to rally for a 69-55 win. USC had entered the 2012 Pac-12 Tournament with an RPI of 30, having played the 11th toughest schedule in the nation with 10 games played against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the AP poll. But the 18-12 finish and strength of schedule was still not enough to get the Trojans back to the NCAA Tournament, which they last reached in 2006.

    WINNING WRAP
    USC secured back-to-back wins on the road to finish out the regular season with a victorious trip through Arizona last week. USC hauled in the first much-needed win on the backs of double-doubles from Christina Marinacci and Cassie Harberts on Friday at Arizona. USC would shrug off a push by the Wildcats that cut the game down to a one-point margin and regain control to latch onto a 74-62 win. The victory snapped an eight-game losing skid by the Trojans, who went winless in February before making this breakthrough in opening up March with a win. USC senior Marinacci had her seventh career double-double in the books by halftime while also climbing up to rank No. 10 all-time in career rebounds thanks to her haul of 11 boards in the first half alone. USC had the Wildcats more than doubled up in the rebounding column, leading 29-13 on the boards to help the Trojans to a 39-26 halftime lead. Brianna Barrett had a big hand in that offensive push, too, serving up seven first-half assists. After a see-saw battle in the second half, USC made the final winning push. The rebounding advantage would wind up a whopping 52-32, with Marinacci and Harberts combining for 29 boards. Harberts' double-double was courtesy of 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Marinacci had 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. USC shot 41 percent from the floor and wound up hitting seven threes in the game to outpace Arizona's 36 percent from the floor and six threes hit in the game. Two days later, USC withstood another Arizona State second-half push and held its ground for a 67-60 road win over the host Sun Devils to tally the Trojans' 10th win of the season and grab the No. 7 seed into the Pac-12 Tournament. Up 34-23 at the half, the Trojans were on the hook to preserve their halftime lead this time after the Sun Devils had erased a 16-point deficit to win in the teams' last meeting. ASU put pressure on USC once again and cut it to a four-point game in the final minute. This time, however, the Women of Troy would hold off the Sun Devils to finish out the win. USC's Cassie Harberts made it back-to-back double-doubles on trip with her 12 points and 10 rebounds on the day. USC had four players in doubles figures in this one, led by Christina Marinacci and Ariya Crook with 13 points apiece. Both Crook and Marinacci sank clutch free throws for the Trojans down the stretch, going 8-of-9 and 7-of-8, respectively, from the line. Also finishing up in double digits today was Kiki Alofaituli with 11 points. In all, USC shot 42 percent from the floor in the winning effort, ahead of ASU's 32 percent but behind on the boards 44-35.

    MARCH MADNESS
    USC opened the month with a 2-0 road trip -- the Trojans' first back-to-back wins in conference play since opening Pac-12 play 4-0. Aside from the absence of freshman guard Jordan Adams (who has been out since Dec. 16 and is sidelined for the season following knee surgery), USC finally had a fully healthy roster with the return of Kate Oliver (knee sprain) to the lineup last week. It was the first time since Jan. 10 that there have been 11 healthy Trojans available for action. USC went 3-5 while senior Christina Marinacci was out (knee sprain) from Jan. 10-Feb. 7. The Trojans went 0-6 with Oliver out of the lineup from Feb. 8-28. USC went 4-0 in conference play with Marinacci and Oliver in the lineup to make it 11 healthy Trojans available. The Women of Troy now look to keep up injury bug well out of the picture in order to keep depth and momentum going for their March adventures.

    CONSISTENCY IS KEY
    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. USC was able to open Pac-12 play with four straight wins for the program's best conference start since the 2004-05 season. The Trojans stumbled through a winless February, however, going 0-8 that month. 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 came by single digits, including three 3-point losses by the Trojans.

    FEBRUARY FRUSTRATION
    USC came up winless in the month of February, but not by much. Five of those losses were by single digits, with four losses coming by five or fewer points. This Pac-12 season as a whole saw 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.

    VETERAN STATUS
    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. To date in her senior season, she's third on the team in scoring (7.0 ppg) and second on the boards (6.4 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. After hauling in 24 rebounds during last week's road trip, Marinacci cracked the top-10 all-time in career rebounds at USC to now stand at No. 9 in USC history.

    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 1,253 career points to date she has taken over at No. 16 all time at USC. Ranked No. 45 in the nation in scoring, she is hands-down USC's top scorer (17.9 pg) and also is the leader on the boards (8.1 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 187-of-268 (.698) tally to date to push her to No. 5 all-time in career free throws made (407). Harberts also leads the nation in free throws attempted this season with 268. That count ranks her third all-time at USC in that single-season category, and her 187 makes also has her at No. 3 all-time at USC and No. 3 in the nation overall. Harberts opened this season with three consecutive double-doubles and has since added seven more to hold 16 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.

    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, Thaddesia Southall has played only six games around injuries, with seven Trojans seeing their first career playing time 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). She became a fixture in the starting lineup with 14 starts in 15 games before a knee sprain sidelined her for six games. She returned to game action on March 1. With 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, Oliver also is second on the team with 29 blocks. She averaged 6.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during Pac-12 play thanks in part to her third double-double of the year at Cal.

    X FACTOR
    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 pumped in 111 points in USC's 18 Pac-12 games (6.2 ppg), including a career-high 14 points vs. Stanford on Feb. 15. 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 20 threes, including 15 during Pac-12 play. She's also had career days on the boards with 13 rebounds at Cal and 12 vs. Utah.

    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 Feb. 24 and has since dished out 19 assists in those last three starts of the Pac-12 regular season.

    READY TO GO
    Last season, USC had three players waiting in the wings for their chance to hit the courts for the first time as Trojans. Redshirt freshman Deanna Calhoun, who was out with a knee injury last season, saw her first action as a Trojan on Nov. 30 at San Diego State, and had a career day with eight points at Washington before later hauling in 11 rebounds in two games vs. Cal and UCLA. The Women of Troy also have warmly welcomed 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 almost 20 feet of basketball talent to factor into the 2012-13 USC gameplan. Alofaituli and Oliver have both worked their way into the starting lineups during the year, and are averaging 5.1 and 6.1 points per game, respectively. Oliver has had five double-digit scoring games, and tallied her third career double-double as a Trojan with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Jan. 17 at Cal. Alofaituli has topped out with 11 points in three different games to date.

    LEGACY GAME
    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 HERE

    LAST SEASON
    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.

    WHO'S NEXT?
    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!

    COOP'S TROOPS
    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.