Dec. 29, 2014
USC Women's Basketball Release
The USC women's basketball team has a busy week ahead as Pac-12 play kicks off for the Women of Troy. USC (8-3) will open up conference competition against crosstown rival UCLA (4-7). The first rivalry clash of the season is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Dec. 30) at Galen Center and will be televised on Pac-12 Networks. Tuesday's crosstown showdown will be followed by the USC men's game against Vermont. The doubleheader at Galen Center will offer Trojan fans the opportunity to catch both USC teams in action on the same night. One single ticket allows entry to both games at Galen Center. On the horizon, too, is the remainder of the Trojans' seven-game home stretch, which wraps up with a visit from the Oregon schools to start 2015. USC will host Oregon at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 3) and then faces Oregon State at 7 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 5) to complete a three-game week at Galen Center.
Tuesday, Dec. 30
THE LAST MEETING
February 8, 2014
USC Women Leave The Bruins Behind 68-54
The USC women's basketball team made it a season sweep of rival UCLA today as the Trojans punched up a 68-54 victory over the visiting Bruins at Galen Center. USC opened up the lead on an Ariya Crook 3-pointer and never trailed the rest of the way to tally the Trojans' second win of the season over UCLA. The rivalry victory snaps a three-game skid by USC, which improves to 15-9 overall and stays in third place in conference play at 8-4. UCLA goes to 11-13, 5-7 with the loss to the Women of Troy.
USC (8-3) vs. UCLA (4-7)
Galen Center -- 6 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
The USC-UCLA clast on Tuesday will had live stats available through the Gametracker link on the USC women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com. That game also will be televised on Pac-12 Networks with Mary Murphy as analyst and Anne Marie Anderson on play-by-play. A live streaming broadcast is also available online to Pac-12 Network recipients at pac-12.com/live/.
IN THE NATION
The Trojans received votes in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, but does not appear in this week's polls. UCLA also is unranked this week.
USC was still in the midst of its seven-game home stretch as the Trojans hosted LMU and No. 16 Oklahoma State before the Christmas holiday. The Trojans went big wth a powerful 96-54 win over LMU to notch a third straight victory before the Cowgirls managed to hand the Trojans their first home loss of the year with a 66-62 decision. Against the Lions, USC continued its high-scoring trend, with five Trojans in the books with double-digit games. The Women of Troy blasted out ahead of the Lions and just kept rolling. USC led by as much as 32 in the first half and kept that margin close to intact for a 53-24 halftime advantage. USC was shooting a hot 67 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes of action, far outpacing LMU's 30 percent. USC was in control in almost every category be halftime, leading 23-11 on the boards, 12-2 in assists and 7-2 in steals. Nine different Trojans were already in on the scoring by halftime, led by Brianna Barrett with 12 points. By the final buzzer, those nine Trojans now included five double-digit scorers. The Lions had made a spirited rally late in the game, but USC promptly squashed their efforts and ballooned its lead to a hefty final margin of 42 points. The Trojans wrapped things shooting 55 percent in the game to LMU's 32 percent, and outrebounded the Lions 46-26. Topping the scoring on the day were USC's Brianna Barrett and McKenzie Calvert with 18 points apiece, while Drew Edelman led on the boards with seven rebounds. Amy Okonkwo set a new career best with 14 points today, while fellow freshman Kristen Simon also notched her second straight double-digit game in finishing up with 12. Courtney Jaco deposited 10 points for the Trojans to round out the five in double figures. Days later, USC saw visiting Oklahoma State make a second-half rally to pass up the Trojans and steal away a 66-62 victory. The loss snapped a three-game win streak by the Women of Troy, who has now taken two losses this year to ranked opponents. USC was able to fend off the Cowgirls in the first half of action, finding a response for every Cowgirl push to rein in the Trojans. OSU got to within two during the final five minutes of the first half, only to see the Women of Troy nudge out ahead to a 31-25 halftime advantage. USC shot 42 percent in the first half to outpace Oklahoma State's 35 percent. USC's Alexyz Vaioletama was the only player in double figures through the first half, holding 10 points for the Trojan cause. Vaioletama stayed on pace, finishing with a team-high 20 points in the game. USC as a team, however, dropped off a bit in the second half. It wasn't much, but it was enough to open the door for the Cowgirls, who heated up considerably and stole away the lead with 11:30 to go. They'd hold on, even as USC made it a late two-point game, and finish out the win on 47 percent shooting overall. USC, meanwhile, wound up at 42 percent. Oklahoma State finished up ahead on the boards 37-27 and nailed five 3-pointers to beat out USC's three. Oklahoma State also was more efficient from the free-throw line, going 11-for-16 while USC finished 15-of-23. Alexyz Vaioletama (20 points) and Brianna Barrett (11 points) were the two Trojans in double figures today. Kaneisha Horn was close, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds.
The Bruins are 4-7 overall after losing to No. 4 Notre Dame 82-67 on Sunday and having gone 1-2 on the road the week before Christmas, falling to Miami 74-67, beating Samford 71-52 and losing at #2 Connecticut 86-50. Nirra Fields leads the Bruins in scoring and rebounding with 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. UCLA returns three starters from last year's team, which went 13-18 overall and finished eighth in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 conference record. USC is 47-39 all-time against rival UCLA, with a season sweep last year. USC beat UCLA 56-54 in Westwood last season and then won 68-54 at Galen.
The key to success for the Trojans in the early going of 2014-15 has been a ferociously balanced attack. USC has had at least four different scorers hit double digits in all but three games. Even in a season-opening loss at now-top-ranked South Carolina, USC had three players hit double digits, with career highs set for all three -- Kaneisha Horn (11 pts), McKenzie Calvert (11 pts) and Drew Edelman (10 pts). Two days later at Davidson, USC had all five starters score in double figures. The trend continued with Jordan Adams, Brianna Barrett and Alexyz Vaioletama staying the most consistent during USC's five-game win streak. That run was snapped when just two Trojans hit double digits in a loss at Saint Mary's, but the Trojans reloaded for the very next game and landed four more double-digit scorers in a win over CSUN on Dec. 9. On Dec. 14 against Sacramento State, USC piled six players in double figures, with Kiki Alofaituli, Barrett and Horn each recording the first double-doubles of their careers. To date, USC has three players averaging double-digit scoring and two more barely off that mark. Vaioletama leads all with 13.0 ppg, followed by Calvert at 11.7 and Barrett with 10.8. Sitting right on the cusp with 9.8 ppg is Horn, and Courtney Jaco is also in reach at 9.5 ppg. As a team, USC has shot over 50 percent from the floor in six games and is shooting 46.8 percent overall, including a 40 percent effort from beyond the arc. The only games that USC has three or fewer players in double digits have been losses (South Carolina, Saint Mary's and Oklahoma State).
TIME TO SHINE
Now 11 games into the 2014-15 season, there are at least three Trojans who have truly stepped up their production significantly. Jordan Adams, Kaneisha Horn and Courtney Jaco have each more than doubled their scoring from last season, filling an important offensive void left by USC's departed players from last season. Adams set a career high and scored the winning baskets for the Trojans with 15 points in USC's overtime win at Long Beach State. After producing just 2.8 points per game last season, Adams has upped her game and is scoring 6.9 points per game to go along with 5.3 assists per game. Now a senior after playing her first season at USC last year as a transfer, Horn notched a new career high with 11 in USC's opener at South Carolina and has since almost doubled that in scoring 20 vs. Sacramento State. She's now up to 9.8 points per game after going for 3.0 last season. Another Trojan who is flourishing with a year under her belt is Jaco. A sophomore, Jaco nailed five 3-pointers at Long Beach State to set her career best with 15 points in that one. She averaged 3.7 ppg as a freshman and is at 9.5 ppg this season for the Women of Troy as a full-time starter.
THE CHAMPS ARE BACK
Coming off the program's first-ever Pac-12 Tournament Championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament scene, the USC women's basketball team has raised its profile as the Women of Troy dig into their 2014-15 campaign. Under the guidance of second-year head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, this season's squad is taking that taste of victory and staying hungry for more. Although the bulk of USC's scoring numbers came from two Trojans in particular last season, USC's secret weapon during its run to the conference crown was the ability for different players to shoulder the load at key moments. Sure, the All-Tournament Team honorees Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook gave USC big boosts throughout the season, but it was the breakout performances of Alexyz Vaiolatama, Kiki Alofaituli, Brianna Barrett and Kate Oliver that packed the crucial extra punches as the Trojans pushed through the postseason. Harberts and Oliver have since graduated, and Crook has been dismissed from the program due to violation of team and university policy, but the Women of Troy are still a force to reckon with. Harberts and Crook combined for over 1,000 points last season, but it was Vaioletama who ran the rebounding game for the Women of Troy. A captain again this season, Vaioletama looms large as a standout senior now. She doubled her production from her sophomore season to her junior year, averaging 8.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season. Not far behind her on the scoring front was Barrett, now a junior guard, who busted open some huge performances last year and looks primed for more. She hit 24 points for the Trojans in their return to the NCAA Tournament, going big in USC's NCAA First Round loss to St. John's in Knoxville, Tenn. Let it be noted, too, that Vaioletama was huge on the boards in that one, hauling in 11 rebounds in USC's season finale.
Brianna Barrett, Alexyz Vaioletama and Kiki Alofaituli each took at turn or a few as USC's top scorers in different games last season. Their ability to stand up as impact players is already proven, and Cooper-Dyke is eager to see other Women of Troy rise to dominance as well this season. Expect to see senior Kaneisha Horn and redshirt sophomore Jordan Adams hit their strides this season. Both have a full season of healthy play under their belts now, so the rust is officially off and their bodies are strong and prepped for battle. Adams and Barrett have shown power at the point, and the backcourt can also be capably led by sophomore Courtney Jaco, who can run the show and rifle in the three like a sharpshooter. She was third on the team in 3-pointers nailed last season as a freshman. Jaco appeared in all 35 USC games, so her experience level is high as she settles in for her sophomore campaign. Fellow sophomore Drew Edelman, meanwhile, packs the post for the Women of Troy. With the departure of Harberts, Edelman has been called upon for increased time in the paint. She made 15 game appearances in 2013-14. Now prepped for battle, redshirt sophomore guard Alexis Lloyd enters the backcourt fray for her first action as a Trojan this season.
THE NEW CLASS
USC's freshman class is a unique blend, and together earned a ranking of No. 13 in the nation according to All Star Girls Report. Guard McKenzie Calvert has been called upon to get up to speed fast for the Trojan backcourt, while posts Amy Okonkwo and Kristen Simon have made an impact down low. The entire group has already made their presence known in the scoring column. Calvert leads the pack with 11.7 points per game in her 10 appearances, and is shooting an impressive 50 percent from 3-point range. Simon has stepped in for 10 games and is averaging 6.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Okonkwo has appeared in all 11 games and is averaging 4.0 ppg. Freshman Chyanne Butler played in USC's second game of the season at Davidson and then requested her release from the program.
TAKING ON TOP TEAMS
USC face four fellow NCAA Tournament teams (South Carolina, Fresno State, Cal State Northridge and Oklahoma State) during the nonconference stretch this season. Of those squads, the Gamecocks and the Cowgirls finished 2013-14 in the national rankings. Pac-12 play will put another set of four NCAA Tournament teams on tap for the Trojans. In addition to USC's postseason journey, the conference saw Arizona State, California, Stanford and Oregon State take trips into 2014 NCAA action, while four more Pac-12 teams played in the WNIT last season.
TUNE IN TO THE TROJANS
The 2014-15 Women of Troy will get plenty of face-time this season with 17 regular-season USC women's basketball games scheduled to be televised this season on the Pac-12 Networks. All but two conferences game are due to be televised. All told, USC face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and play a total of nine regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season. All non-televised USC home games will be streamed live at http://pac-12.com/videos/university-southern-california.
USC made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2005-06 season after earning the league's automatic bid after winning the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in school history. USC upset regular-season champion and top-5 ranked Stanford to reach the title game in head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's first year at the helm. With a 22-13 overall record and an 11-7 Pac-12 finish Trojans had more overall wins and Pac-12 wins than a year ago. USC posted an upset of then-No. 12 Colorado for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 and also had a big upset at No. 23/22 California. Six of the team's seven league losses were by 10 points or less. USC opened the 2013-14 campaign with a 3-0 start, the team's best since 1998-99. Junjor Ariya Crook and senior Cassie Harberts led the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 and 15.4 ppg, respectively, while Harberts grabbed 7.3 rpg. Crook was named Most Oustanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament while Harberts was named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament Team and to the All-Pac-12 team for the second year in a row. Harberts was also honored by the WBCA as an all-region team member. Also earning All-Pac-12 accolades were Brianna Barrett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention), Courtney Jaco (Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention) and Alexyz Vaioletama (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention).