Trojans are looking for their most successful season start in 15 years when they take on the Aztecs at 4 p.m.
Nov. 12, 2013
USC Women's Basketball Release
The USC women's basketball team is back in town to play its first official home game at the Galen Center under new head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke
. Carrying a 2-0 start to the 2013-14 season, the Women of Troy are lined up for their home opener, taking on San Diego State (0-1) at 4 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at Galen Center. USC will be looking for some redemption after taking a loss to the Aztecs last season. What's more, the Trojans are taking aim at making it three-in-a-row out of the gates. USC's 2-0 start to the year is the first time the Women of Troy have done so since the 2005-06 season. The last time USC opened up 3-0 was in 1998-99.
THE LAST MEETING
November 30, 2012
San Diego, Calif.
This week's USC-San Diego State game will be STREAMED LIVE ONLINE HERE
. Live stats through GameTracker also will be available online through the USC women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls as the Trojans enter the second week of 2013-14 competition. San Diego State also is unranked in this week's polls. Neither team was ranked in the preseason polls.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE
The Aztecs are 0-1 after taking a 93-89 loss at Sacramento State in their season opener last week. Cierra Warren led SDSU in that one with 28 points, joined by Danesha Long with 13 and Ariell Bostick with 11. USC is 28-8 all-time against San Diego State after the Aztecs snapped a four-game win streak held by USC in the rivalry with a win last year in San Diego. The Aztecs posted an 80-46 win over the Trojans in that one. USC's last win over San Diego State was a 74-64 decision in the 2010-11 season in Los Angeles.
USC got out to its first winning start to a season since 2005-06, celebrating the new era under head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke with two road wins. USC topped UC Davis 64-55 and then beat Fresno State 63-54. Both wins avenged losses taken by the Trojans last season. Against the Aggies, USC put a dramatic flair on Cooper-Dyke's first win as head coach of the Women of Troy, battling out of a second-half deficit to beat host UC Davis. The road win in USC's season opener didn't come easy, as the referee's whistle interrupted things and the Trojans also worked to find a rhythm in their first official game of the year. Still, behind clutch 3-pointers from Ariya Crook, who scored 24 points on the night, and a team effort that saw 10 Trojans score, USC pulled off its 27th season-opening victory. USC led by as much as nine points in the first half but had to gut out seven lead changes and dig out of a three-point hole in the second half in order to match that nine-point advantage by the final buzzer. It was a topsy turvy first half for the Women of Troy, who had a hot first 12 minutes before a lull hit the Trojans as UC Davis slipped back into the lead. USC wrapped the first half clinging to a 32-28 lead on a 45-percent shooting effort from the floor. UC Davis had been aided by a bevy of trips to the line, as the Aggies went 12-of-14 from the stripe in the first half to accompany a 39-percent outing from the floor. In the second, things got even wilder, as trips to the line became more frequent and shooting from the floor slumped on both ends. In the end, The Trojans would win out, shooting 41 percent overall from the floor to UC Davis' 33 percent. The Trojans also outrebounded the Aggies 39-31 down the stretch. Ariya Crook and her four 3-pointers led the way for all on the scoring front, as the junior finished with 24 points on the night, while Brianna Barrett joined her in double figures with a career-high 11. Barrett also swiped a career-high nine rebounds for the Trojan cause, followed by Cassie Harberts with eight boards. UC Davis got a team-high 14 points from Kelsey Harris and 10 from Molly Greubel. Two days later, the Trojans had to adjust for a dangerous outside attack from the host Bulldogs, countering with a strong effort on the boards to limit second chances for their foes. Cassie Harberts and Alexyz Vaioletama led the charge with 12 rebounds apiece, as Harberts finished with her first double-double of the year in adding 13 points to the Trojan cause. The Trojans were on a roller coaster ride in the first half, creating a 14-point swing into the lead on some stingy defense before the Bulldogs hit back and closed the gap to 23-22 Trojans at halftime. USC was shooting at a 38-percent clip by the break, but were plagued by 11 turnovers. Fresno State was hitting at a cooler 22 percent from the floor but was slightly warmer from beyond the arc to stay within one point of the Trojans entering the final 20 minutes of action. Once again, USC had to claw back from a second-half deficit, having trailed the Bulldogs by four with 11:42 remaining in the game. An assist from Harberts to Kate Oliver preceded a three-point play from Harberts to spark a lead that USC wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way. USC finished the game with Harberts in the books with a double-double on 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Ariya Crook led the squad with 14 points and Jordan Adams added 12. USC shot 40 percent from the floor in the game to outpace Fresno State's 32 percent day. The Bulldogs were led by 16 points from Bree Farley, while Alex Sheedy had a double-double of her own with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
COOP COMES HOME
A USC legend has come home and the Women of Troy are ready to rise once again to the elite level of their glory days. Trojan great Cynthia Cooper returns to USC, this time as head coach of the women's basketball team, having helped to lead the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA Championships as a student-athlete. Cooper then won an Olympic gold medal, four WNBA titles and went on to launch a successful career as a head coach. In the past seven years, Cooper has resurrected three collegiate programs and received three league coach of the year honors in return. But now she's returned to her roots to coach the 2013-14 Women of Troy back to dominance in collegiate women's basketball. Cooper is aided by a strong staff of coaches, including the new additions of associate head coach Brandy Manning and assistant coach Jualeah Woods. Woods is a Trojan herself, having played with Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson and graduating USC in 1994. Assistant coach Evan Unrau is back for her second season with the Women of Troy. Cooper takes over the USC program following a disappointing 2012-13 season in which the Trojans finished 11-20 and seventh in the Pac-12, missing the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season.
HEALTHY AND WISE
One thing that the team hasn't experienced in a while is the luxury of having 11 healthy players return to this year's roster. Injury depletion has crushed USC's ability to make progress in past seasons, but with a strong and experienced roster led by seniors Harberts, Desireé Bradley, Kate Oliver and Rachel Totten, this year is shaping up to be a different story. Harberts is hitting her stride as she enters her senior season already named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and as a finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award. She was an All-Pac-12 Team pick last year after averaging 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, which helped launch her into a new realm in being selected a member of the USA's World University Games team, winning gold in Russia this past summer. Last season, Harberts led the Trojans in points, rebounds, and blocks and finished third in the Pac-12 in points per game, while she also set USC records in free throws made (207) and attempted (298). She is currently No. 16 all-time at USC with 1,293 career points. Fellow senior Kate Oliver averaged 5.7 points per game and a 66.7 free-throw percentage last season. The Australian lefty brings a skillful shooting ability to the Trojan front court and saw much development in only her first season at USC last year. She and Harberts make for a dynamic and daunting presence at the post position, as both players boast an ability to pop out and knock down shots from distance. Their senior compatriots Bradley and Totten are primed for the perimeter in their final seasons as Trojans, as both are proven sharp-shooters for the Women of Troy.
Lots of talent returns at the guard position with juniors Ariya Crook, Kiki Alofaituli and Alexyz Vaioletama and sophomore Brianna Barrett ready for another season. Crook averaged 13.4 points per game and received All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after playing in 30 games for the Trojans last season. Barrett is coming off a fantastic freshman debut in which she finished the year with Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. Off the injured list this season is highly touted guard Jordan Adams, who was a McDonald's All-American our of Mater Dei High before being sidelined by injury early last year. She's back in action to boost up the Trojan backcourt for 2013-14. Additional youthful experience will come for the Trojans in the form of sophomore Destinie Gibbs and redshirt sophomore Deanna Calhoun, who bring another important depth charge to the USC roster along with the feisty Alofaituli and athletic Vaioletama.
THE NEW CLASS
The Women of Troy only graduated one player from last year's squad, but it won't be an easy hole to fill. The Trojans need to find a way to replace Christina Marinacci, a force on the boards as USC's No. 9 all-time rebounder (738) and a stubborn defensive specialist. Don't be surprised to see freshman Drew Edelman step up to fill that role as a 6-foot-4 powerhouse under the basket. Fellow newcomer Courtney Jaco is fitting in nicely at the point guard position and can knock down 3-pointers like there's no tomorrow. Cooper is already been impressed by what these two newcomers have to offer. The Trojans are also excited to bring in transfers Kaneisha Horn and Alexis Lloyd to add to the already impressive roster. Horn, a junior transfer from Alabama, adds a new dynamic to the team and the program as a versatile forward that fits well all over the court. Horn is good to go this season, having finished her undergraduate degree in three years at Alabama. She has two seasons to play with the Trojans as she pursues a masters in social work. Lloyd will sit out the 2013-14 season after transferring from Virginia Tech.
TUNE IN TO THE TROJANS
The 2013-14 Women of Troy will get plenty of face-time this season with 18 USC women's basketball games scheduled to be televised this season. The Trojans have one matchup with Stanford set for a national audience on ESPN2, along with 17 games on the Pac-12 Networks. All but one conference game is due to be televised. All told, USC will face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and will play a total of 12 regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season.
CAN'T STOP CASSIE
Senior Cassie Harberts is the centerpiece of the USC team and has established herself as on of USC's top players all-time. She enters her senior season ranked No. 16 all-time in scoring with 1,293 career points, having scored her 1,000th point during her junior season. As a freshman, she tallied a 31-point game, which was the most points scored by a Trojan freshman since 1981. Last season, the 2013 All-Pac-12 selection led the Trojans in almost every major statistical category and ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring (18.0 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (8.2 rpg). During her USC career to date she has earned 2011 Pac-10 All-Tournament Team and 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors, 2012 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, and 2013 All-Pac-12 Team and Pac-12 Player of the Week awards to go along with her consistent academic accolades. She has recorded 17 double-doubles in her career, and in her junior season she became USC's all-time record holder for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a single season. This past summer, Harberts won a gold medal as a member of the United States' World University Games team.
BACK FOR MORE
USC returns all but one player from last year's roster, with grad Christina Marinacci the only loss from 2012-13. She was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding, so the Trojans do have some sizable shoes to fill. Fortunately, USC returns standout post Cassie Harberts, who led USC in scoring, rebounding and free throws last season as a junior. She started every single game for the Trojans -- the only player to do so. In all, USC returns 11 letterwinners from last year's team, including nine players who started at least seven games in 2012-13. Ninety-one percent of USC's scoring was produced by those 11 players last season, including 88 percent of the rebounding. Harberts herself accounted for 29 percent of USC's points, 21 percent of its rebounds and 44 percent of its free throws made last season. Harberts, Kiki Alofaituli and Brianna Barrett all appeared in every game last year, while Alexyz Vaioletama and Ariya Crook missed only one game each.
USC finished the 2012-13 season with an 11-20 overall record -- the program's first losing season since 2002-03 and matching the most overall losses in program history (USC also had 20 losses in 1998-99). Last year's Trojans finished seventh in the Pac-12 at 11-7, and was ousted in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals by No. 2 seed California. Cassie Harberts, who scored her 1,000th career point on Jan. 13, 2013, would lead USC on the honor rolls, picked to the All-Pac-12 Team while also setting USC program records for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a singles season. She also was selected as Pac-12 Player of the Week on Jan. 7, 2013. Also scoring conference accolades last season were Brianna Barrett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention & Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention) and Ariya Crook (All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention).