USC Women Square Off With Arizona & No. 16 ASU This Week At Galen Center|
Jan. 24, 2017
Friday, Jan. 27 | 7 p.m.
USC (10-9, 1-7) vs. Arizona (11-8, 2-6)
Announcers: Carey Noakes & Rahshaun Haylock
USC has spent the entire month of January in Los Angeles, and this week sees no change in that forecast for the Women of Troy, who host two more Pac-12 clashes at Galen Center before a road-heavy February begins. USC (10-9, 1-7 Pac-12) looks to turn the tide on a seven-game skid when it takes on Arizona (11-8, 2-6) in a 7 p.m. matchup on Friday (Jan. 27) with live streaming video available at pac-12.com/live/usc-2. From there, the Trojans turn to face No. 16 Arizona State (14-5, 5-3) at 3 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 29). That tilt will be televised live on Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Arizona. Sunday also marks USC’s Day in Troy event, where USC Athletics hosts hundreds of children and family for an on-campus tour and take part in the educational S.C.O.R.E. program before the USC-ASU game. For more information, go to usctrojans.com/ot/day-in-troy-17.html
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the latest national polls but is receiving votes in this week’s AP poll. Arizona is unranked. ASU is ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and in the USA Today/Coaches poll.
In the fifth game of the season (Nov. 23), redshirt senior Jordan Adams suffered a season-ending ACL tear (left knee). She was averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game before being sidelined for the season. Dani Milisic was sidelined for the first four games (knee) and was cleared to play for her first action on Nov. 23. Aliyah Mazyck missed five games (Jan. 1-15) with injury (foot). Marguerite Effa missed four games (Dec. 30-Jan. 8) with injury. Kristen Simon missed three games (Jan. 13-18) for personal reasons. Valerie Higgins missed the Jan. 15 game vs. OSU with injury (knee).
The No. Wildcats enter the week 11-8 overall and 2-6 in Pac-12 play after falling to Stanford 73-46 and to Cal 71-60 last week. LaBrittney Jones leads Arizona in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). USC is 56-21 all-time against Arizona after a split last year. USC beat the Wildcats 67-57 in Tucson before falling to Arizona 63-56 at Galen Center in the 2015-16 season.
The No. 16 Sun Devils enter the week 14-5 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play after beating Cal 54-45 and losing to Stanford 66-56 last week. Sophie Brunner leads ASU in scoring (13.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg). USC is 54-23 all-time against ASU with losses in the last three meetings. USC last beat ASU 59-57 in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament. Last season, ASU claimed a 69-68 win over USC in Tempe and beat the Trojans 50-45 at Galen Center.
RIVALRY WEEK RECAP
USC took two losses to rival UCLA last week. In the Wednesday night clash at Galen Center, USC received a career night from senior Courtney Jaco, who nailed seven 3-pointers — a USC single-game record — and finished with 27 points. But it wasn’t enough to pass up visiting No. 11 UCLA. The Bruins benefited from a slow second quarter by the Trojans and dominated the boards throughout to post a 74-59 win over host USC Wednesday night at Galen Center. USC and UCLA went toe-to-toe in the first quarter thanks to the Trojans’ 3-point game, landing four threes in the first stretch to take a slim lead after 10 minutes of play. The next 10 minutes would not go as well for USC, while the Bruins went 11-of-17 from the floor in the second quarter to build a hefty 40-22 halftime advantage over their hosts. UCLA was owning the boards as well, outrebounding the Trojans 25-11 in the first half to keep USC out of reach. It was that sparse scoring effort by USC in the second frame that spelled doom for the Trojans, who outscored UCLA in every other quarter. The Bruins finished out the game shooting 43 percent from the floor to outpace USC’s 33 percent. UCLA won out on the boards 40-30 and also forced 20 turnovers by the Trojans. USC got a supercharge from senior Courtney Jaco’s career-high 27-point night. She landed a career-best seven 3-pointers in the game, and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Freshman Minyon Moore also hit double digits for USC with 12 points, nailing a pair of threes of her own. UCLA was paced by a double-double from Monique Billings, who notched 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Bruins. Jordin Canada also added 15 points for UCLA in the win. In the Sunday night rematch, USC was edged out in a great rivalry game in Westwood, falling 71-67 at No. 11 UCLA as the Bruins benefited from 28 free throws shot in the second half. UCLA landed 20 of those — more than enough to help the hosts recover from USC’s two-point halftime advantage. UCLA led by as much as 11 in the early going, but USC was able to trim that deficit down to five on back-to-back threes to close out the first quarter. In the second, the Bruins generated a 9-0 run, only to see the Trojans reel them back in with a 10-0 rally that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Courtney Jaco — who was 4-for-4 from 3-point range by halftime. It was that fourth three that tugged the Trojans into the lead, up 38-36 at the break. USC was shooting 45 percent from the floor to outpace UCLA’s 34 percent, but 11 first-half Trojan turnovers were gifting the Bruins key points. In the second half, the whistle blew 19 fouls against the Trojans, while UCLA committed just eight in those final 20 minutes. That both interrupted the flow of the game and allowed the Bruins to generate important points from the stripe, as UCLA landed 20-of-28 free throws in the second half, while USC went 3-for-5. The game was locked up even four times in the second half, the last draws coming from strong performances from Kristen Simon. Her free throws with 5:35 on the clock — the last USC would shoot the rest of the way — pulled USC level at 62-62. The Bruins would pull away a bit before Simon hit Aliyah Mazyck for a big 3-pointer that gave USC some hope, down 67-65 with 1:40 to go. After a single free throw fell for UCLA next, Ivana Jakubcova slipped in a big bucket in the paint to trim the deficit to one with 25 ticks to go. The Trojans would come up empty on their chances to get into the lead, while UCLA spent the rest of the night at the stripe to win it 71-67. USC finished out the game shooting 41 percent from the floor, still overmatching UCLA’s 33 percent effort in the game. USC also outrebounded the Bruins 47-42. The Trojans committed 19 turnovers — 11 of which came in the first half — to nine by UCLA. USC’s offense was paced by 18 points from senior Courtney Jaco, who landed five threes in the game. Kristen Simon, back from missing three games, delivered 16 points with eight rebounds, and Aliyah Mazyck added 14 points for the Trojans. UCLA received game-high 23-point outings from both Jordin Canada and Kennedy Burke, while Monique Billings registered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Bruin win.
USC BY THE NUMBERS
Led by Kristen Simon’s team-high 15.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, the Women of Troy have put together a 10-9 overall record to date. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to 65.7 points per game and has forced 18.6 turnovers per game by its opponents. Individually, USC has four players averaging double digits. The group of scoring leaders has Simon on top with her 15.8 ppg, followed by senior Courtney Jaco with 11.3 ppg, junior Sadie Edwards at 10.9 ppg and freshman Minyon Moore with 10.8 ppg. USC’s top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 4.6 assists per game. As a team, USC is averaging 71.0 points per game, shooting .432 from the floor and .706 from the free-throw line.
HOT-HANDED IN SACRAMENTO
In a mad scramble in Sacramento, USC outshot the host Hornets in an all-out shootout for an 111-95 road win that pumped up the Trojans’ overall record to 7-1. Five Women of Troy hit double digits in the fast-paced win, led by a career-high 24 points from Aliyah Mazyck. The high-scoring affair also saw freshman Minyon Moore serve up 15 assists — second most by a Trojan in program history to stand just behind 17 tallied by Rhonda Windham back in 1982. USC’s 111 points scored also was the sixth most in program history, last hit in 1981. In the first half, the Trojans rattled off 60 points — the most in a half since 1987 and the sixth most points in a half in program history. USC also shot a season-high 58.8 percent from the floor in the fast-paced victory.
ON THE RISE
USC senior guard Courtney Jaco’s 3-point threat has been well established, and the sharpshooter continues to climb in the USC record books. She started her senior season ranked as USC’s No. 5 all-time 3-point shooter. With 48 threes landed this season, she has now taken over the No. 2 spot in USC history. She matched Shay Murphy at No. 3 with three 3-pointers landed vs. OSU on Jan. 15. And with a career-best seven 3-pointers nailed vs. UCLA on Jan. 18 — matching the single-game record set by leader Ashley Corral — Jaco launched herself past Brynn Cameron to take over at No. 2 all-time. Jaco’s current tally is 193 career threes made. She also stands as USC’s most productive 3-point shooter with a career average of 39.3% from beyond the arc to date (193-of-491).
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in seven of her 16 appearances this season, including back-to-back double-double outings at the Great Alaska Shootout, where she was named Most Outstanding Player at the tournament. She now boasts 15 career double-doubles, and still holds the rights to one of USC’s most dominant recent rebounding effort in her 21-board game last season. That marked the fourth most single-game rebounds ever collected by a Trojan, placing her just behind efforts by such USC greats as Lisa Leslie and Cheryl Miller. After setting a new career high for herself with a 23-point outing at Sacramento State, and delivering a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line in USC’s upset of Texas A&M, Simon was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Dec. 5. She has since upped that career best with a 25-point day at WSU on Jan. 8.
PUNCH FROM THE BENCH
USC freshman guard Minyon Moore was the first 20-point scorer this season (vs. UC Riverside, Nov. 16) and also served up a whopping 11 assists (vs. Missouri State, Nov. 22) -— the most by a Trojan since Briana Gilbreath in 2012 — in a single game. Against Long Beach State, she set a new career high for herself with 23 points — a season high for the Trojans to date. And at Sacramento State, the freshman dished out 15 assists — second most ever by a Trojan and the most since Rhonda Windham delivered 17 in 1982. Those efforts all came off the bench from Moore, who has averaged 10.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals through her first 19 games as a Trojan. After her stellar showing in wins at Texas A&M and Sacramento State, Moore was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Dec. 5. Moore’s first career start came on Jan. 15 against OSU.
A WELCOME HOMECOMING
USC kicked off homecoming weekend with a true reunion, welcoming home Trojan great Cheryl Miller for USC’s exhibition clash against Cal State LA on Nov. 4. Miller is in her first year at the helm of CSULA, and her trip to Troy marked a rare opportunity for two former NCAA championship teammates and fellow Hall of Famers to face off. Miller and USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke were reunited on the court of their shared alma mater, with a pregame ceremony held to honor Miller’s visit to Troy, with many former Women of Troy in attendance for the game.
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 has upped the Trojans’ post presence, adding key balance 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.
Three years ago, the Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament title 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 — Jordan Adams, Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd — to help guide their 2016-17 team toward another postseason appearance, The loss of redshirt senior Adams was a hit to the Trojans, but fellow seniors Jaco and Lloyd and juniors Sadie Edwards and Kristen Simon have stepped up their leadership roles to help keep the bar high for their team. Sophomores Aliyah Mazyck, Candela Abejón and Marguerite Effa, meanwhile, have taken last season’s experience to add to the powerful blend of talent on the Trojan roster for 2016-17.
Redshirt freshman forward Dani Milisic has checked 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. Altogether, USC’s four true freshmen (Higgins, Jones, Moore and Tapley) have combined for 432 points (22.7 ppg) through the first 19 games of the season.
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 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 (a little older than the Los Angeles Coliseum!), 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.
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 quarterfinals. 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. Fagbenle 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.
USC has hauled in two key Californians with the signing of Shalexxus Aaron and Destiny Littleton to national letters of intent. The two newest Women of Troy are shining stars from Southern California, and are now set to make themselves at home at Troy in 2017. Aaron and Littleton are highly anticipated additions to the USC roster for 2017-18, offering up distinct backcourt strengths to bring to the Trojan gameplan. Shalexxus Aaron will come to Troy from Martin Luther King High in Riverside, and is actually already a member of the Trojan Family by blood. Her brother, Shaqquan, is a redshirt sophomore on the USC men’s basketball team. A 6-1 guard, Aaron was league MVP as a freshman and participated in the USA Under-16 and under-17 team trials. Ranked as the #16 guard in the nation by ESPN, Aaron truly has basketball in her blood. Her mother. Madinah, is a former college basketball player. Her father, Carl, played professionally in Australia. And her oldest brother, Shaddean, played basketball at Mercer College. A 5-9 guard, Destiny Littleton has racked up plenty of accolades for her work at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. Ranked as the #9 guard in the nation by ESPN, Littleton was the 2014 CIF Freshman of the Year, 2015 CIF Sophomore of the Year, 2016 CIF Junior of the Year and was named to the 2016 California All-State First Team. She also was a member of the 2015 USA Basketball U16 National Team. On Jan. 14 of this year, Littleton broke the California state scoring record. She entered her senior season 905 points shy of passing record-holder Charde Houston (3,837), who was also coached by Littleton’s high school coach and guardian, Marlon Wells.