Women's Basketball
    Trojan Greats Collide as USC Women Host Cal State LA in Exhibition Action

    Cynthia Cooper and Cheryl Miller were teammates at USC, and now face off as coaches on Friday at Galen Center.
    Nov. 2, 2016

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    THE LAST MEETING
    Cal State Los Angeles65
    USC96
    December 15, 1979
    Los Angeles, Calif.
    THIS WEEK
    Trojan fans will get more than just a first glimpse of the 2016-17 USC women's basketball team this week. They will also be treated to a reunion of two of the best women's basketball players in history. When USC host Cal State LA in Friday's 6 p.m. exhibition game at Galen Center, USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke will face off against former Trojan teammate and fellow basketball legend Cheryl Miller, who is in her first season as head coach of the Golden Eagles. As Trojans, Cooper-Dyke and Miller won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1983 and 1984. Since then, both have continued along paths of greatness in the game, both have had their USC jerseys retired, and both have found success in the coaching ranks. On Friday (Nov. 4) the Trojan teammates will be reunited at Galen Center. And still, it's a business meeting for both. Cooper-Dyke is looking to showcase her exciting new-look roster of Women of Troy, while Miller has pieced together her debut group of Golden Eagles across town. Admission is free!

    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 will significantly up the Trojans' post presence, and bring some key balance to their gameplan to pair with its returning backcourt savvy. Led by 6-foot-6 senior transfer Ivana Jakubcova, 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.

    WHO'S BACK?
    There's plenty of experience coming back to aid the Trojan cause this season. Redshirt senior Jordan Adams pairs with fellow seniors Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd while juniors Sadie Edwards and Kristen Simon will continue the upward trajectory they set off on as sophomores. True sophomores Aliyah Mazyck, Candela Abejón and Marguerite Effa now have a year of competition under their belts to help anchor a powerful blend of talent on the Trojan roster for 2016-17. Three years ago, the Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament Championship 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 and those veterans -- Adams, Jaco and Lloyd -- look to help lead their 2016-17 team to another postseason appearance as they wrap their Trojan careers this season.

    WHO'S NEW?
    Redshirt freshman forward Dani Milisic will check 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.

    ROMAN HOLIDAY
    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 several international squads. It was an invaluable chance to grow as a team. From bike rides along the Sile River, to climbing the Tower of Pisa, to photo ops in the Coliseum in Rome (VERY different from the Los Angeles Coliseum, we learned!), the Women of Troy made many powerful new 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 with on-court competition as a team.

    AT A GLANCE
    Eight returning Trojans have welcomed a strong set of newcomers, with six Women of Troy set to clock in for their first minutes in a USC uniform this season. Under the direction of Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who enters her fourth season at the helm, the USC women look to battle back to the top of the pack. Here is a quick breakdown of each Trojan and what they bring to the USC plan of attack:

    1 Jordan Adams | RS-SR Guard
    Adams enters her fifth year with the Trojans, standing tall as USC's most veteran player and possible its most versatile athlete. Able to play the point and the perimeter, as well as hit the boards with authority, the 6-1 redshirt senior averaged 7.7 rebounds and 12.8 points per game as she helped USC to its hot start in the 2015-16 season. Adams started all 12 games in USC's 12-0 start to last season, which marked the most successful season start for the USC women since 1982-83.

    2 Ivana Jakubcova | SR Center
    Jakubcova joins the Trojans as a transfer, closing out her eligibility as a grad student at USC after serving two seasons at Kentucky. A 6-6 center who has significant range on her shot, the native of Slovakia brings an extra dimension to the USC gameplan as well as a wealth of experience and smarts.

    3 Minyon Moore | FR Guard
    A Bay Area product, freshman guard Moore boasts serious ball-handling skills as well as the ability to distribute and create. Her physical strength makes her tough to contain on the offensive end and tough to get past on the defensive end, and the freshman stands to make an impact in the backcourt for the Women of Troy.

    5 Ja'Tavia Tapley | FR Forward
    An athletic addition to the paint, Tapley has great leaping ability. An all-state first-teamer as a senior out of Jacksonville, Fla., Tapley adds an extra element of size and skill to the USC lineup as she digs in for her freshman season at Troy.

    10 Courtney Jaco | SR Guard
    Jaco enters her final season at Troy as USC's No. 5 all-time 3-point shooter, having nailed 145 threes in her USC career to date. She also is the Trojans' fourth most productive shooter from behind the arc, as she hits at a 37.9 percent from 3-point range. The sharpshooter's backcourt savvy landed her All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last year as the 5-8 guard averaged 10.1 points per game for the Trojan cause.

    13 Marguerite Effa | SO Forward
    A finisher in the paint, Effa settles in for her second season as a Trojan. With a year under her belt, the 5-3 sophomore forward brings back her length and athleticism to give USC an added dose of depth down low.

    14 Sadie Edwards | JR Guard
    Now fully entrenched as a Trojan, 5-10 guard Sadie Edwards enters her second season of competition with the Women of Troy. A midseason transfer from UConn in 2014, Edwards will engage in her first full season of action at USC. In her 22 games played last year, Edwards impressed in providing 11.3 points per game while dishing out 1.5 assists per game and nabbing 1.5 steals per game. A talented junior with a nose for the hoop, Edwards is primed to shine in 2016-17.

    21 Aliyah Mazyck | SO Guard
    Another sophomore with a key season of work now under her belt, Mazyck enters 2016-17 with a wealth of potential to make a real impact in the USC backcourt. A 5-9 guard with no fear and no qualms about attacking the hoop, Mazyck also has shown she can pull up a nail a three when necessary. She averaged 7.8 points and 2.0 assists per game as a freshman.

    22 Valerie Higgins | FR Guard
    Higgins got gold-medal experience overseas last summer as a member of the U.S. Under-18 National Team that won it all at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championships. An all-around talent, the 6-0 freshman guard was the SoCal Player of the Year and stands to be a difference-maker for the Women of Troy. Skilled in practically every aspect of the game, the versatile Higgins will be a key to success for USC in 2016-17.

    23 Asiah Jones | FR Forward
    Another power player in the paint for USC is Jones, who comes to Troy from South Carolina. Standing tall at 6-3 with length and leaping ability, Jones gets the Trojans some much-needed depth down low as she enters the start of her USC career.

    25 Alexis Lloyd | RS-SR Guard
    Lloyd played her first season at Virginia Tech but soon made the switch to USC and played her first season as a Trojan in 2014-15. Now, Lloyd stands out as one of four Women of Troy in their final season at USC. A Chicago native, Lloyd started 15 games for USC last year and has shown herself as a spark for the Trojans. Her strength and vision keeps Lloyd very much in the mix as a role player and contributor for USC on both ends of the court.

    30 Candela Abejón | SO Guard
    Spanish product Abejón adds to USC's battalion of guards with size, backing up the Trojan backcourt with her 6-1 frame and ability to score from distance. After one season of work with the Women of Troy, Abejón stands out as a hard-working teammate who will play an increased role for the Trojans in 2016-17.

    32 Dani Milisic | RS-FR Forward
    Australian import Milisic is slated for her first official action as a Trojan this season after redshirting last year. A midseason addition to the Trojan roster in 2015-16, Milisic is another one to watch in the paint. A 6-4 forward, Milisic adds serious size and strength to USC's gameplan, which is taller and deeper than ever before. A former member of Australia's Under-16 and Under-17 squads, Milisic has the smarts and the skill to stand tall for USC throughout her Trojan career.

    35 Kristen Simon | JR Forward
    With an influx of height in the paint, Simon may stand an inch or two shorter than her fellow Trojan post players but few can match her strength and tenacity on the block. Simon came into her own last year as a sophomore, dominating down low and emerging as USC's second leading rebounder with 8.0 boards per game while contributing 10.7 points per game for the Trojan offense. Now a junior, the 6-2 Simon will remain a reliable impact player for the Women of Troy this season.

    LAST SEASON
    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 quartefinals. 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. Fegbenle 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. •