Trojans join No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 6 Duke and Gardner-Webb at the Junkanoo Jam this week.
Nov. 22, 2011
USC WBB Release
COMING UP NEXT
The USC women continue their journey through a competitive 2011-12 season with a trip to the Junkanoo Jam this holiday weekend. The Women of Troy (1-2) set up camp in the Grand Bahama Island along with No. 3 Notre Dame (3-1), No. 6 Duke (3-0) and Gardner-Webb (0-4) for competition in the Freeport Division of the Junkanoo Jam. USC opens up against the Fighting Irish in a 5:45 p.m. ET clash on Friday (Nov. 25) before the matchup between the Blue Devils and the Bulldogs. Winners will square off the following day (Nov. 26) at 8 p.m ET, and the consolation game is set for 5:45 p.m. ET.
This weekend's games will have live audio provided by Jason Schwartz available online through the women's basketball page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC opened the year with a spot in the national rankings for the first time since 2006, ranked at No. 23 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN preseason polls. After the first week, USC moved up to No. 22 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and No. 23 in AP, but has fallen out of the rankings this week. USC is currently receiving votes in both polls. Notre Dame is ranked highest at No. 3 in USA Today/ESPN and is No. 4 in AP; Duke ranks No. 6 in USA Today/ESPN and No. 6 in AP; Gardner-Webb is unranked.
USC was hamstrung by slow starts in both road games last week, falling 68-50 to Nebraska and 67-60 to No. 11 Georgia. Against the Huskers, USC fell in a 9-0 hole and was behind by 13 at halftime as the Trojans' slow tempo and effort on the boards left them always a step behind. Nebraska shot 42 percent in the first half to USC's cool 20 percent, while the Huskers also dominated the boards to the tune of a 29-18 halftime advantage. The Trojans would get to within six with 10:45 to go, but the Huskers outpaced USC down the stretch, finishing with a 35.5 percent offensive output and outrebounding the Trojans 66-40. USC finished the game shooting 25.4 percent. Briana Gilbreath led USC with 18 points and a career-high six blocks, while Jacki Gemelos hauled in 12 rebounds. The Huskers got a tag-team effort from Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, who traded big halves to finish with 22 points apiece, while Hooper was one of three Nebraska players with double-digit rebounding nights, closing out a double-double with her game-high 13 rebounds. USC was also hurt by a cold showing from 3-point range, hitting just 3-of-20 on the night. In a battle of ranked teams, USC again suffered from a cold start, going 0-for-8 from the floor to open the game at No. 11 Georgia. The Bulldogs would lead by as much as 18 in the second half, but USC managed to get hot late in the game, outscoring Georgia 15-7 in the last three minutes to cut the final to 67-60. Cassie Harberts had a double-double in the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Gemelos was USC's top scorer with 16 points. Georgia was led by a career-high 21 points from Meredith Mitchell. In all, USC improved on a 24-percent first half offensive output to finish at 36 percent on the night, while Georgia shot 39 percent in the game. The rebounding mark was 44-38 in the Bulldogs' favor, and the teams were even with 14 turnovers apiece.
MOVING ON UP
USC seniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both broke the 1,000-point barrier last season and continue to trek up the ladder in USC's history books. After last week's road trip, Gilbreath still stands at No. 14 all-time with 1,313 career points, and Corral sits at No. 16 with 1,213. Gilbreath is now one block away from No. 5 all-time (currently holds 138, and has taken over at No. 11 all-time in career rebounds (638). She's also one steal shy of the No. 10 spot (currently holds 202). Corral already is etched as USC's all-time 3-point leader, and she's No. 7 on the list for career assists (currently holds 377).
USC's newcomers all marked up the stat sheet in their Trojan debuts in the season opener on Nov. 11. Freshman Alexyz Vaioletama got the start at forward and finished up with seven points, eight rebounds and five assists in her first action. Freshman Ariya Crook came off the bench to provide two points and an assist along with two steals; and redshirt freshman Thaddesia Southall nabbed a rebound and an assist to go along with two blocks for the post in her first minutes as a Trojan. Her first career points came with a free throw at Georgia on Nov. 20.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
The No. 3 Fighting Irish enter the Junkanoo Jam at 3-1 after beating Hartford 98-43 and falling to No. 1 Baylor 94-81 last week. Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel lead Notre Dame in scoring with 21.0 and 17.8 points per game, respectively. Devereaux Peters is the Irish's top rebounder with 7.0 per game. Notre Dame is coached by Muffett McGraw, who is in her 25th season as head coach at Notre Dame. The Irish return four starters from last year's team, which went 31-8 overall and reached the NCAA Championship. USC 2-7 all-time against Notre Dame after snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Irish with a 69-58 win over the Irish in 2006-07 at the Galen Center.
The No. 6 Blue Devils are 3-0 after beating Auburn 73-50 and Western Kentucky 80-54 last week. Chloe Wells leads Duke in scoring with 12.3 points per game, and Elizabeth Williams and Chelsea Gray each average 11.0 ppg to go with 7.3 and 6.3 rebounds per game, respectively. Duke is coached by Joanne P. McCallie, who is in her fifth season as head coach of the Blue Devils. Duke returns two starters from last year's team, which went 32-8 overall and reached the NCAA Elite Eight. USC is 0-5 all-time against Duke after three losses in the past three seasons, including a 75-50 loss last year at Cameron Indoor.
The Bulldogs are 0-4 after falling 69-41 to Appalachian State and 67-46 to Davidson. Jasmine Dale and Catrina Green lead GWU in scoring with 8.8 and 8.0 points per game, respectively, and Green is the team's top rebounder with 9.5 per game. Gardner-Webb is coached by Rick Reeves, who is in his seventh season as head coach of the Bulldogs. GWU returns one starter from last year's team, which finished 23-11 overall as the Big South Conference championships and an NCAA First Round appearance. USC and Gardner-Webb have not faced each other before.
USC has two players sidelined for the season to rehab from offseason surgeries. Freshman Deanna Calhoun (knee) will redshirt her first year at USC, and Kate Oliver (ankle) will sit out the season after transferring from Marist. Junior Christina Marinacci missed the first game of her USC career on Nov. 11 due to health reasons but returned to action at Nebraska on Nov. 18.
GET TO GALEN!
USC students receive FREE ADMISSION to all home games! For other Trojan fans, tickets are available online (http://www.gettrojantix.com) or by calling 213-740-GOSC. Group discounts ($3 per person) are also available for groups of 10 or more. For families, pick up a Family 4-Pack for $40 to receive four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks. Visit http://www.usctrojans.com/201112wbbpromostix.html for more info on promos and tickets.
A road-tested and decorated USC roster is back for more this season. The Women of Troy played in 11 different states in amassing a program record of 18 road games last season. This year, USC opens the year with another busy travel schedule. The Women of Troy visit five different U.S. states during their nonconference stretch, which includes face-offs against six NCAA tournament teams, including road tilts against 2011 NCAA finalist Notre Dame and champion Texas A&M. USC is 0-2 on the road to date.
Multiple knee injuries have kept both Jacki Gemelos and Stefanie Gilbreath off the court far too long, but the grad student and fifth-year senior are now enjoying "Super Senior" status. Sidelined for a collective six-and-a-half seasons, Gemelos and Gilbreath both had breakout seasons last year. The top recruit as a freshman in 2006, Gemelos was USC's third leading scorer last season in her first full season of action and picked up All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Gilbreath stepped on the court for the first time last season and was a contributor in all 13 games for which she was healthy.
Compared to the 14 years of combined time at USC among those four guards, returning starters Cassie Harberts and Christina Marinacci are relative newbies. That is, until one takes a look at the minutes they've logged during their time as Trojans. Junior forward Marinacci has played in every game since coming to Troy, and was fifth on the team in scoring last year with 8.2 points to go along with the second-best mark of 6.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Harberts was the only Trojan to start every single game last season, and was one of four Trojans averaging in double digits last year with her 10.2 points per game that she paired with 6.2 rebounds per game. She secured a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and was on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team after posting a 30-point game during the tourney.
Michael Cooper and his coaching staff have added a premier class of incoming talent, with a group of athletes that rank as the No. 8 class in the nation. Guard Ariya Crook and forward Alexyz Vaioletama are projected to be impact players in their first seasons as Trojans. Their fellow freshmen Deanna Calhoun and Kiki Alofaituli, meanwhile, will sit out the season along with junior transfer Kate Oliver, who comes to Troy from Australia by way of two years at Marist. Calhoun is coming back from a high school-sustained knee injury, and Alofaituli will sit out per NCAA rules.
The USC roster is loaded up with eight All-American honorees. Five returning players were McDonald's All-Americans on their way into Troy: Ashley Corral, Jacki Gemelos, Briana Gilbreath, Stefanie Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci. Also holding high school All-American accolades is WBCA honoree Cassie Harberts, now a sophomore with the Trojans. That core of six returners have two new McDonald's All-Americans also lined up for action in freshmen Ariya Crook and Alexyz Vaioletama.
In head coach Michael Cooper's second season at Troy, the Women of Troy experienced a successful postseason that saw USC make a run to the WNIT title match. The 2011 Women of Troy finished the year with a 24-13 overall record after a 10-8 mark in Pac-10 play. The 24 wins was the most by a USC team since 1993-94, and USC's 18 road games in the season the Trojans set another program record. Juniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath both earned All-Pac-10 Team honors for the second straight season, with Jacki Gemelos picking up her first conference honors with All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Newcomer Cassie Harberts was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team and also had a spot on the Pac-10 All-Tournament Team alongside Corral. Corral and Gilbreath would also garner WNIT All-Tournament Team accolades, and Gilbreath became the first Trojan since 1997 to earn an AP All-American selection with an Honorable Mention pick after standing out as USC's leader in scoring, rebounds, blocks and steals in her junior season. Corral and Gilbreath made more Trojan history in both scoring their 1,000th career points last season. Gilbreath hit the mark on Jan. 22, 2011, and Corral followed suit on Feb. 10, 2011. Corral also took over as USC's all-time leader in career 3-pointers on that same day.