Women's Basketball
    USC Women Hit The Road For Fresno
    Ariya Crook and the Trojans hit the road again for a visit to Fresno State on Wednesday.
    Ariya Crook and the Trojans hit the road again for a visit to Fresno State on Wednesday.

    Dec. 4, 2012

    USC WBB ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    THIS WEEK
    The USC women's basketball team has traded wins for losses in the past couple weeks, and the Trojans are looking to right the ship with a good road win this week. USC (3-3) is off to Fresno for a 7 p.m. clash on Wednesday (Dec. 5) against Fresno State (4-2).

    FOLLOW ALONG
    Wednesday's game at Fresno Stgate will have live streaming video and live stats available.

    THE LAST MEETING
    Fresno State57
    USC65
    November 11, 2011
    Galen Center

    IN THE NATION
    USC opened the year receiving votes in the national polls but is now unranked. Fresno State also is unranked.

    LAST WEEK
    In USC's first road games of the year, the Trojans wound up with a split, beating UC Santa Barbara 62-51 and losing to San Diego State 80-46. had to find some composure down the stretch when host UC Santa Barbara cut an 18-point Trojan lead down to six with 1:15 left to play. In USC's most productive 3-point effort of the season, it was a clutch three from freshman Destinie Gibbs -- USC's ninth of the night -- that helped ease some pressure and roll the Trojans to a 62-51 final victory over the Gauchos in Santa Barbara, Calif. A see-saw start had the Trojans tested through much of the first half until the USC defense finally settled in and slowed the Gauchos down from 43 percent shooting with 8 minutes to go to 38 percent in the half as a whole. The Trojans, meanwhile, dumped in some key 3-pointers to go along with those defensive stops, and USC eventually got up 31-22 on its host by halftime thanks to 50 percent shooting. The Trojans were able to balance a nice inside-out game with Cassie Harberts doing work down low for 17 points on the night to help open up the perimeter for USC's young sharpshooters. Freshman Jordan Adams nailed four threes and finished with 12 points to lead five different 3-point hitters in the win. USC finished out the game going 9-of-16 from 3-point land and was 49 percent overall from the floor. UCSB finished up at 48 percent overall after heating up to 61 percent in the second half to heap extra pressure on the Trojans late in the game. The Gauchos were led by Angelei Aguirre and Kendra Morrison with 13 and 11 points, respectively -- all in the second half. USC won out on the boards 28-22. Days later, despite a close start, San Diego State proved to be too much for USC. The Women of Troy, who were led by Cassie Harberts' 15 points and five rebounds, could not keep up with the hot-shooting Aztecs, who shot 50 percent in the second half and 46.4 percent for the game. SDSU was led by a season high performance from Courtney Clements, who finished with 25 points. Things were tight through the first four minutes of the game, with both sides trading baskets and keeping the score within one. The Aztecs opened up a 23-16 lead through the 8:28 mark, but the Women of Troy stayed in the game with plenty of opportunities, due in part to six hard-fought offensive rebounds. Christina Marinacci would on her first basket of the game, a layup to pull the team within three, 23-20. But the Aztecs answered with back-to-back baskets of their own, extending their lead to seven, 27-20 with 4:15 left in the half. Coming out of the final media timeout of the first half, the Aztecs went on an 8-1 run, including knocking down two three-pointers to extend their lead to 35-22. Harberts knocked down a jumper to put the score at 35-24, but a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down by Courtney Clements of San Diego State pushed their lead to the biggest at halftime, 38-24. In the second, SDSU started things off with a 5-0 run, and the second half continued to be all San Diego State, as its hot second-half shooting of 50 percent (16-32) from the field and 60 percent (3-of-5) from behind the three-point arc led to their biggest lead of the day, 34 points, 78-44 with 49 seconds left in the half.Along with Harberts' 15 points, Crook also hit double-digits, knocking down 11 points. Redshirt freshman Deanna Calhoun and sophomore transfer Rachel Totten made their USC debuts in the loss.

    SCOUTING FRESNO STATE
    The Bulldogs are 4-2 overall after beating UT Arlington 70-45 and Washingotn State 82-59 last week. Ki-Ki Moore is Fresno State's top scorer with 16.7 points per game, with Jacinta Vandenberg leading on the boards with 6.3 rebounds per game. Head coach Raegan Pebley is in her first season as head coach of the Bulldogs, who went 28-6 overall last season and reached the NCAA First Round. USC is 5-4 all-time against Fresno State with a five-game win streak that dates back to the 1975-76 season. The Bulldogs' last win over USC was a 40-22 victory back in the 1972-73 season. USC's last win over Fresno State was a 65-57 win last season at Galen Center.

    BACK FOR MORE
    USC returns 52 percent of its scoring and 52 percent of its rebounding from the 2011-12 roster. Cassie Harberts is the top returning scorer (357 points, 11.9 per game) and Christina Marinacci is back as USC's leader on the boards (215 rebounds, 7.4 per game). That pair, along with junior Desireé Bradley, are USC's most experienced returners with a combined 217 games played to date. 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, returner Thaddesia Southall has played six games around injury, with eight Trojans in line to play their first-ever career games as Women of Troy this season.

    VETERAN STATUS
    Forward Christina Marinacci (Santa Ana, Calif./Foothill HS) is the lone senior on the roster this season as she enters her second year as a captain for the Women of Troy. Although 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. Against Arkansas State, Marinacci tallied her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, notching her sixth career double day overall.

    POWER IN THE PAINT
    Forward Cassie Harberts is USC's top returning scorer from last season having stood as the Trojans' No. 2 scorer in 2011-12 as a sophomore. Now a junior, Harberts is tabbed to shoulder the load for the Women of Troy, having started every game of her career since setting foot at Troy. So far, she's proven wholly capable of that challenge, as she opened her junior season with three consecutive double-doubles, and has scored in double figures in every game to date. That start has Harberts now holding nine career double-doubles, going along with career highs of 31 points as a freshman vs. WSU along with 18 rebounds also as a freshman vs. Oregon.

    THE NEW KIDS
    USC head coach Michael Cooper and his staff have added a class of freshmen that ranks No. 14 in the nation on the recruiting charts. With 2012 McDonald's All-American Jordan Adams (Irvine, Calif./Mater Dei HS) a standing tall as a highly touted guard, USC's talented class also includes guards Brianna Barrett (Winnetka, Calif./Oaks Christian HS) and Destinie Gibbs (Oxford, Ga./McEachern HS).

    READY TO GO
    Last season, USC had four players waiting in the wings for their chance to hit the courts for the Trojans. Thaddesia Southall actually started out the year, but was sidelined by a knee injury that kept her on the bench the remainder of the season. She's ready to go this year as a redshirt sophomore, alongside another healed Trojan, redshirt freshman Deanna Calhoun, who was out with a knee injury also last season. The Women of Troy also welcome 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 a good 25 feet of basketball talent to factor into the 2012-13 USC gameplan.

    FRESH FACES
    The 2012-13 USC roster has been rounded out by two walk-ons -- freshman Franceska Regnier and sophomore Rachel Totten, who studied for a year at UC Santa Barbara -- and a transfer from Hawai'i, Malia Cravens. Cravens will sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

    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.

    TROJANS ON TV
    The USC women's basketball team has a solid lineup of television appearances on tap for 2012-13, thanks to the development of the Pac-12 Networks, which are taking the Trojans live to the small screen for 10 games this coming season. USC's Pac-12 Network debut will come fast, with the Trojans' Nov. 23 clash against Nebraska set for national broadcast live from the Galen Center at 2 p.m. After that, USC has a bigtime clash with Duke set for TV on Dec. 22, followed by eight Pac-12 tilts to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks, including home-away series with California, Stanford and crosstown rival UCLA. That includes a wild stretch of three games in five days as the Trojans host Stanford on Feb. 15, California on Feb. 17 and UCLA on Feb. 19 for a television frenzy for the Women of Troy at Galen Center. Other televised conference tangles set for TV will be a Feb. 3 face-off with Colorado at the Galen Center and a March 1 matchup at Arizona.

    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!

    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.