USC Women Buckle Up For The Bay To Face No. 8 Stanford and Cal|
Jan. 31, 2017
Friday, Feb. 3 | 6 p.m.
Palo Alto, Calif.
USC (12-9, 3-7) at #8/9 Stanford (19-3, 9-1)
PxP: Kate Scott | Analyst: Ros Gold-Onwude | Sideline: Jill Savage
USC got some winning momentum on its side with a sweep last week as the Trojans now turn to a road-heavy February ahead. USC (12-9, 3-7 Pac-12) will look to notch a fourth win over a ranked team when the Trojans pay a visit to No. 8/9 Stanford (19-3, 9-1) for a 6 p.m. clash on Friday (Feb. 3) at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto. That game will be televised live on Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Bay Area. Then, USC heads up to Berkeley to take on California (15-7, 3-7) at 10:30 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 5) at Haas Pavilion.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the latest national polls. Stanford is ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/Coaches poll. California is unranked but is receiving votes in the USA Today 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). Mazyck also missed the Jan. 27 & 29 games with the same issue. 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. 8/9 Cardinal enter the week 19-3 overall and 9-1 in Pac-12 play after beating WSU 76-54 and Washington 72-68 last week. Erica McCall leads Stanford in scoring (15.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). USC is 20-56 all-time against Stanford after a 57-47 loss last year at Galen Center. USC’s last win over the Cardinal was a 72-68 victory in the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament semifinal.
The Golden Bears enter the week 15-7 overall and 3-7 in Pac-12 play after losing to Washington 90-67 and to WSU 84-79 last week. Kristine Anigwe leads Cal in scoring (22.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.9 rpg). USC is 39-28 all-time against Cal with wins in the last two meetings. USC beat Cal 61-57 last year at Galen Center. Cal’s last win over USC was a 67-53 decision at Galen Center in the 2014-15 season.
USC put together its first Pac-12 sweep last week in beating visiting Arizona 58-54 and then upsetting No. 16 ASU 65-50 at Galen Center. On Friday, USC fought off the visiting Wildcats to snap a seven-game skid with a key Pac-12 win over Arizona. New Trojans Ivana Jakubcova, Minyon Moore and Ja’Tavia Tapley each hit double digits in the 58-54 USC victory, with both Jakubcova and Tapley generating season-high outings to help the Women of Troy lock up the win. USC shot at a 43-percent clip in the first half of action, benefiting from a 12-0 rally in the second quarter to manufacture a 31-19 halftime advantage. Arizona shot 32 percent in those first 20 minutes, interrupted by eight USC steals in the first half. USC lead out on the boards 20-14 by halftime, while USC newcomers Ja’Tavia Tapley and Ivana Jakubcova led the way with a combined 16 points and eight rebounds at the break. USC would lead by as much as 17 during the third quarter, but that advantage was trimmed to four in the final minute as the turnover count tipped against the Trojans. Still, USC was able to hang on for the win, netting just enough free throws down the stretch to fend off the Wildcats. USC wrapped the game shooting 39 percent from the floor, just ahead of Arizona’s 38 percent. USC won out on the boards 39-27, but committed 23 turnovers to 20 by the Wildcats in the game. USC received a game-high and career-high 15 points from freshman Ja’Tavia Tapley, while senior transfer Ivana Jakubcova registered her first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Minyon Moore also hit double figures with 12 points in the game, joined by senior Courtney Jaco with 11 points for the Trojan cause. Tapley and Jaco each nabbed three steals for the Trojans, and Tapley issued three blocks. Arizona was paced by 13 points from Malena Washington and 10 apiece from LaBrittney Jones and Dejza James. Two days later, USC logged its third win over a ranked team this season and pocketed a key Pac-12 upset with a decisive 65-50 win over No. 16 Arizona State. USC shot 39 percent from the floor in the first half while ASU hit at a 46-percent clip to help the Sun Devils to a one-point halftime advantage. In the second half, the Trojans flipped that script in a big way. USC shot 73 percent in the final 20 minutes of action to work out ahead of ASU, which shot 31 percent in the second half. For the second straight game, USC had four Trojans finish up in double figures. This time, junior Sadie Edwards led the charge with a game-high 17 points to pair well with fellow junior Kristen Simon’s eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. USC also saw senior Courtney Jaco score 11 points and freshman Minyon Moore add 10, including a momentum-shifting four-point play to close out the third quarter. ASU received 14 points from Sophie Brunner and a double-double from Quinn Dornstauder (13 points, 10 rebounds). ASU won out on the boards 30-25 but committed 18 turnovers. USC had 17 turnovers, but delivered six blocks. USC also was a perfect 7-for-4 from the free-throw line in the upset win.
USC BY THE NUMBERS
Led by Kristen Simon’s team-high 15.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, the Women of Troy have put together a 12-9 overall record to date. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to 64.4 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 15.0 ppg, followed by senior Courtney Jaco with 11.2 ppg, junior Sadie Edwards at 11.0 ppg and freshman Minyon Moore with 10.8 ppg. USC’s top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 4.4 assists per game. As a team, USC is averaging 70.1 points per game, shooting .435 from the floor and .707 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 50 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 196 career threes made. She also stands as USC’s most productive 3-point shooter with a career average of 39.4% from beyond the arc to date (196-of-498).
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in eight of her 18 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 16 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) and also served up a whopping 11 assists (vs. Missouri State) -— the most in a single game by a Trojan since Briana Gilbreath in 2012. Against Long Beach State, she set a new career high for herself with 23 points. 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, 4.4 assists and 2.3 steals through her first 21 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.
Redshirt freshman 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 478 points (22.8 ppg) — 32% of USC’s overall production — to date.
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 powerful chance to grow as a team. From bike rides along the Sile River, to climbing the Tower of Pisa, to photo ops in the Colosseum in Rome (a little older than the one in Los Angeles!), the Women of Troy made many lasting 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 on-court 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.