Feb. 4, 2014
USC Women's Basketball Release
Saturday, Feb. 8
USC (14-9, 7-4) vs. UCLA (11-12, 5-6)
Galen Center -- 3 p.m.
THE LAST MEETING
December 30, 2013
USC Women Enter 2014 On A Happy Note, Beating UCLA 56-54 In Westwood
The USC women's basketball team won a wild one in Westwood tonight, beating rival UCLA with a 56-54 victory to wrap up 2013 and kick off Pac-12 play on a winning note for the Women of Troy. Ariya Crook set the tone for the Trojans with a career-high 25 points -- 21 of which came in the first half to open things up for USC. The game was tied with 1:44 to go, and UCLA was gifted a trip to the line with 0.4 seconds left for a shot at forcing overtime, but the Trojans came away with the deserved victory over the Bruins. USC improves to 8-5 overall with the win and opens conference action with a 1-0 record. UCLA goes to 6-7, 0-1.
As if turning the tide on a three-game skid isn't enough motivation, the USC women's basketball team have extra incentive to get back in winning mode this week when the Trojans host rival UCLA on Saturday (Feb. 8). The Women of Troy already beat the Bruins once this season, having topped UCLA in Westwood in their Pac-12 opener. Now, USC (14-9, 7-4 Pac-12) aims to defend its home turf against visiting UCLA (11-12, 5-6) when the Bruins come across town to Galen Center for a 3 p.m. showdown on Saturday. The Women of Troy also host fans participating in A Day In Troy on Saturday, when USC student-athletes and staff run a community outreach program that introduces fans of all ages to campus and to the importance of education, exercise and good health The USC-UCLA women's clash also will be the first of a rivalry doubleheader at Galen Center on Saturday, as the USC men take on the UCLA men at 7:30 p.m.
Please note that guided tours are sold out, but you can still join the rest of the fun!
Doors open at 12 p.m. - CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!
Saturday's rivalry matchup will be broadcast live 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/networks/pac-12-national/. Live stats also will be available on Gametracker through the USC women's basketball schedule page at usctrojans.com.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the national polls as the Trojans enter the 14th week of 2013-14 competition. UCLA also is unranked.
The Bruins are 11-12 overall and 5-6 in Pac-12 play after falling 70-58 to Washington and 79-72 to Washington State last week at home. Atonye Nyingifa and Nirra Fields lead UCLA in scoring with 18.0 and 17.2 points per game, respectively, and Nyingifa lead on the boards with 9.0 rebounds per game. UCLA went 26-8 overall last season with an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship game and going on to reach the NCAA Second Round. USC is 46-39 all-time against UCLA in a series that dates back to the 1971-72 season. After being swept by the Bruins last season, the Trojans claimed the first win of this season when USC went to Westwood and beat the Bruins 56-54 on Dec. 30, 2013 to open Pac-12 play on a winning note for the Trojans.
USC stumbled in its return to Galen Center last week, taking a 79-75 loss to Washington State and falling 63-55 to Washington. A messy first half had the Trojans playing catchup against the Cougars, and although USC worked into a slim late lead it was the Cougars who made the final winning surge to victory. USC was shooting 43 percent from the floor to WSU's 35 percent in the first half but was plagued by a pile of turnovers and some trouble hauling in rebounds as the Trojans trailed the Cougars 35-29 at the break. USC had committed 15 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and WSU 12 in a messy first half of play that also saw WSU ahead on the boards 24-18. The Women of Troy tightened things up and renewed their focus on the boards in the second half to finish out the game even a 45 rebounds apiece. The lead traded hands six times in four minutes, but once WSU got ahead with 1:22 to go the Cougars held on for the win. WSU shot 50 percent in the second half to finish out the game at 43 percent to USC's 42 percent. The turnover count wrapped with USC having committed 21 and the Cougars 19, while the teams hit five 3-pointers apiece. USC's Cassie Harberts led all in scoring with her 24th career double-double on 24 points and 11 rebounds. Brianna Barrett and Ariya Crook added 15 points apiece to the Trojan cause, while WSU wound up with five Cougars scoring in double digits. Tia Presley led with 21, Dawnyelle Awa had 12, Shalie Dheenshaw had a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, and Lia Galdeira and Taylor Edmondson each score 10 points in the WSU win. Two days later, USC again put itself in another hefty hole and again was unable to claw out of it. Harberts tallied her second straight double-double for the Trojans, but it wasn't enough to counter a stagnant first half by the USC contingent. A downright cold morning for the Women of Troy had USC with a season-low 17 first-half points on a frustrating 7-of-30 effort from the floor while Washington built up a solid 31-17 lead by halftime. The Huskies had nailed five 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes and were shooting 41 percent overall to comfortably outpace the struggling Trojans. Once high noon hit USC found some power, but the Trojans' game of catchup again finished too soon. The Huskies held USC at bay down the stretch, fending off the Trojans when they closed to within two and closing out a 63-55 victory. USC outscored Washington 38-32 in the second half, but that halftime hole was just too much. USC finished the game shooting 32 percent from the floor to trail Washington's 38-percent effort. The Huskies also nailed eight 3-pointers to counterpunch USC's 49-35 outing on the boards. Washington's Jazmine Davis led all scorers with 25 points, including four back-breaking 3-pointers. USC was led once again by Harberts with a double-double on 22 points and 11 rebounds. Crook also hit double digits with 13 points for USC, and Barrett hauled in a career-high 10 rebounds.
BEATING THE GOLDEN BEARS
USC showed endless fight to go along with a winning touch in an impressive comeback win that saw the Trojans combat the foul count and an 11-point deficit in crafting a 77-70 victory over No. 16 host California on Jan. 24 in Berkeley. Ariya Crook was near unstoppable for the Trojans, scoring a whopping 34 points -- the most by a Trojan since 2002 -- while Cassie Harberts provided a double-double for the USC cause. Teams were relatively hot at both ends in the first half, with USC going 50 percent from the floor and Cal at 53 through the first 20 minutes. That slight edge in the Bears' favor had Cal holding a 41-35 lead at the break with a 17-13 advantage on the boards. USC's Crook and Cal's Afure Jemerigbe were both in the books with double digits by then, holding 14 and 13 points, respectively. In the second half, the foul count was slanted heavily against USC for much of the half, but the Trojans just gritted their teeth and dug in for the long haul. Cal had a six-point lead on the Trojans with 6:30 to go, but USC kicked out on a 14-2 scoring blitz from there for a lead the Women of Troy would not relinquish. By the final buzzer, USC had wrapped the win on 42 percent shooting overall to beat out Cal's 36 percent. Cal won out on the boards 45-37 thanks in part to double-doubles from Brittany Boyd and Gennifer Brandon, but it was the fighting spirit from the USC contingent that sealed the deal for the Trojans. Crook's career-high 34 points came with five 3-pointers nailed and a smooth 7-of-8 effort from the free-throw line. Cassie Harberts added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans, while Brianna Barrett's 6-point contribution came from the free-throw line, including two big makes to follow a huge steal in the final seconds. During the Trojan rally to victory, Crook not only scored the most points by a Trojan since 2002, she took over at No. 8 all-time in career 3-pointers, now holding 107. Harberts, too, climbed the career ladders in taking over at No. 8 all-time in career rebounds (817), and is now just 2 points away from No. 9 all-time in career scoring (currently holds 1,606 points). Trailing by six with 6:20 to go in the game, USC went to the line for the first time in almost 10 minutes, with Harberts icing four straight tosses before hitting Bradley for a game-tying 3-pointer to make it 66-66 with 4:30 remaining. Harberts had the go-ahead move and finish in the paint next, and USC was up 68-66 entering the last 3:30 of regulation. Harberts would haul in her 10th rebound of the game to make it a double-double and give USC another opportunity. Crook converted a bucket in the lane next, and USC was up to its biggest lead, holding a 70-66 edge that would hold up through a couple defensive stops by the Trojans. With 25 seconds left, Crook went to the line and nailed two to make it 72-66. Brittany Boyd countered with a three-point play for the Bears, and it was a three-point game with 20.7 ticks on the clock. Barrett was next to the stripe, sinking the back end for a four-point edge. Boyd hit the line for the Bears with just one going in, and Crook went back the other end for a couple tosses with 13.5 on the clock. After two makes and USC up 75-70, Barrett came up big with a steal on the next defensive series, and the Bears had no hope left when she hammered the last two free throws home for the 77-70 final win for the Trojans.
BANNER WEEKEND AT GALEN
The Women of Troy made some historic moves during their winning weekend against the Oregon schools. Against the Beavers on Jan. 17, it was a career day for USC senior Cassie Harberts and junior Ariya Crook, who both cracked the all-time top-10 in different categories. Harberts passed up USC head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time scoring list, while Crook broke the century mark in career 3-pointers to climb to No. 10 there. Against Oregon, the USC women became the first team ever to score 100 points at the Galen Center with the Trojans' 109-85 victory. The fast-paced game saw 12 different Women of Troy score -- led by 30 points from Harberts -- as USC built up its highest-scoring game since 1982. The Trojans' whopping 109 final points notched the 34th triple-digit game in USC women's program history and the first ever at Galen Center by any team -- men's or women's, home or opponent. USC also dished out 33 assists in the game -- second most in program history. Crook matched her career best with seven to lead all, while Harberts served up a career-high six assists and finished up just one point away from her career high, tallying 30 points today. Freshman Courtney Jaco, meanwhile, matched her career high with 14 points on a 5-of-6 effort from the floor.
USC tallied its first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 when the Trojans upset No. 12 Colorado 55-45 during a busy stretch of three games in seven days -- all wins by the Women of Troy. On Jan. 3 against the Buffs, USC held No. 12 Colorado scoreless for the first seven minutes and last four minutes in a focused finish by the Trojans, who shrugged off six ties and 10 lead changes to clamp down and end the game on a 13-0 run to victory. After an 0-for-12 start, Colorado was able to warm up to a cool 21 percent in the half. It was enough of a warmup to cut into what had been a 12-point USC lead and make it a 23-20 margin with the Trojans in the lead at the break, shooting 26 percent from the floor. The tough Trojan defensive effort had the Buffs with a season-low 20- points at the half, while both teams held more rebounds than points with USC up 25-23 on the boards. In the second half, the Buffs worked into the lead for the first time, and were up by three points with 4:01 remaining. The Trojans locked in and dominated the rest of the game, getting four players in on the scoring to finish out the victory. USC ended up shooting 31 percent from the floor to Colorado's 28 percent. Both were season lows for the teams, but it was a marked drop off for the Buffs, who came into this game shooting 44 percent overall and averaging 77.5 points per game. USC won out on the boards as well, 45-41, and tallied a season-high 10 blocks in the victory. Cassie Harberts led all scorers with 19 points, finishing just a rebound away from a double-double with nine on the night. She would climb up in the USC record books as well, taking over at No. 12 all-time with 1,498 career points. USC's last win over a ranked team had been a 58-51 victory over No. 24 Gonzaga on Dec. 5, 2011, snapping a stretch of 16 winless games against ranked opponents.
USC made it a 3-0 start to its 2013-14 campaign under new head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. The Women of Troy turned the tide on three opponents to kick off the new season, avenging losses taken last season to UC Davis, Fresno State and San Diego State. USC beat the Aggies 64-55 in a season-opening road tilt, then took down Fresno State 63-54 in Fresno. And in the Trojans' home opener, USC topped the Aztecs 65-61 to make it a 3-0 start, marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that USC has made such a winning start.
CAN'T STOP CASSIE
Senior Cassie Harberts is the centerpiece of the USC team and has established herself as one of USC's top players all-time. She entered her senior season ranked No. 16 all-time in scoring with 1,293 career points, having scored her 1,000th point during her junior season. Now with 1,669 total points, she has overtaken USC head coach and Trojan great Cynthia Cooper as well as former teammate and current pro Briana Gilbreath to now rank as USC's No. 9 all-time leading scorer. And with 845 career rebounds, she ranks at No. 8 all-time in USC's history books. From the stripe, Harberts has taken over Lisa Leslie to now rank No. 4 all-time with 519 free throws made. As a freshman, Harberts tallied a 31-point game, which was the most points scored by a Trojan freshman since 1981. On Jan. 19, 2013, she tallied her second career 30-point game in leading the Trojans to a 109-85 victory over Oregon -- making the Women of Troy the first team, male or female, ever to score in triple digits at the Galen Center. Harberts also picked up the Pac-12 Player of the Week selection following the win. During her USC career to date Harberts has earned 2011 Pac-10 All-Tournament Team and 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors, 2012 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, and 2013 All-Pac-12 Team and a pair of Pac-12 Player of the Week awards to go along with her consistent academic accolades. With six double-doubles this season to date, she has recorded 23 in her career, and in her junior season she became USC's all-time record holder for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a single season. This past summer, Harberts won a gold medal as a member of the United States' World University Games team. She's since picked up national acclaim with selection to the Wooden Award Preseason Top-30 and Naismith Award Early Watch List. Harberts also is a nominee for the WBCA, NBCA and Allstate Good Works Team.
COOP COMES HOME
A USC legend has come home and the Women of Troy are ready to rise once again to the elite level of their glory days. Trojan great Cynthia Cooper has returned to USC, this time as head coach of the women's basketball team, having helped to lead the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA Championships as a student-athlete. Cooper then won an Olympic gold medal, four WNBA titles and went on to launch a successful career as a head coach. In the past seven years, Cooper has resurrected three collegiate programs and received three league coach of the year honors in return. But now she's returned to her roots to coach the 2013-14 Women of Troy back to dominance in collegiate women's basketball. Cooper is aided by a strong staff of coaches, including the new additions of associate head coach Brandy Manning and assistant coach Jualeah Woods. Woods is a Trojan herself, having played with Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson and graduating USC in 1994. Assistant coach Evan Unrau is back for her second season with the Women of Troy. Cooper takes over the USC program following a disappointing 2012-13 season in which the Trojans missed the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season. At 13-6 overall this season, the 2013-14 Trojans have already passed up last year's total win mark of 11.
HEALTHY AND WISE
One thing that the team hadn't experienced in a while is the luxury of having 11 healthy players return to this year's roster. Injury depletion had crushed USC's ability to make progress in past seasons, but with a strong and experienced roster led by seniors Cassie Harberts, Desireé Bradley, Kate Oliver and Rachel Totten, this year is shaping up to be a different story. Harberts has maintained her constancy for the Trojans, having started every game since coming to Troy as a true freshman. Back from injury this year is sophomore point guard Jordan Adams, who has started every game this season, as has junior Alexyz Vaioletama. It wasn't until Jan. 3 that this Trojan squad was bitten by the injury bug, with two starters -- Ariya Crook and Kiki Alofaituli -- sidelined with injuries. Alofaituli missed three games, and Crook also missed three but returned to action on Jan. 17.
USC junior Alexyz Vaioletama has come into her own this season. She's nearly doubled her output from last season, going from 4.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2012-13 to stand as USC's third leading scorer (8.6ppg) and No. 2 in rebounding (7.0 rpg) as a junior. She's recorded her first career double-doubles this season, and while in Arizona she led the team in scoring in both games, nailing a career-high 21 points (including the game-tying 3-pointer to force OT) at ASU and provided 16 at Arizona.
BACK FOR MORE
USC returns all but one player from last year's roster, with grad Christina Marinacci the only loss from 2012-13. She was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding, and finished her career as USC's No. 9 all-time rebounder (738), so the Trojans do have some sizable shoes to fill. In all, USC returns 11 letterwinners from last year's team, including nine players who started at least seven games in 2012-13. Ninety-one percent of USC's scoring was produced by those 11 players last season, including 88 percent of the rebounding. Cassie Harberts herself accounted for 29 percent of USC's points, 21 percent of its rebounds and 44 percent of its free throws made last season. Harberts, Kiki Alofaituli and Brianna Barrett all appeared in every game last year, while Alexyz Vaioletama and Ariya Crook missed only one game each.
Lots of talent returns at the guard position with juniors Ariya Crook, Kiki Alofaituli and Alexyz Vaioletama and sophomore Brianna Barrett ready for another season. Crook averaged 13.4 points per game and received All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention after playing in 30 games for the Trojans last season. Barrett is coming off a fantastic freshman debut in which she finished the year with Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention and Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. Off the injured list this season is highly touted guard Jordan Adams, who was a McDonald's All-American before being sidelined by injury early last year. She's back in action to boost up the Trojan backcourt for 2013-14. Additional youthful experience comes for the Trojans in the form of sophomore Destinie Gibbs and redshirt sophomore Deanna Calhoun, who bring another important depth charge to the USC roster along with the feisty Alofaituli and athletic Vaioletama.
THE NEW CLASS
USC has two true freshmen and three transfers added to the roster for this season. Drew Edelman and Courtney Jaco comprise the Trojan freshman class, with Edelman standing tall as a 6-foot-4 powerhouse under the basket. Fellow newcomer Jaco is fitting in nicely at the point guard position has shown her knack for knocking down 3-pointers. Jaco had a big weekend in Arizona, scoring her first double-digit game at ASU (14 pts) and then adding nine points with a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line at Arizona. The Trojans have also brought in transfers Kaneisha Horn and Alexis Lloyd to add to the already impressive roster. Horn, a junior transfer from Alabama, adds a new dynamic to the team and the program as a versatile forward that fits well all over the court. Eligible to compete this season after having finished her undergraduate degree in three years at Alabama, Horn has played in all but one game this season. She has two seasons to play with the Trojans as she pursues a masters in social work. Lloyd will sit out the 2013-14 season after transferring from Virginia Tech. Maria Kemiji-McDonald has walked on to the team after a year at Michigan.
USC finished the 2012-13 season with an 11-20 overall record -- the program's first losing season since 2002-03 and matching the most overall losses in program history (USC also had 20 losses in 1998-99). Last year's Trojans finished seventh in the Pac-12 at 11-7, and was ousted in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals by No. 2 seed California. Cassie Harberts, who scored her 1,000th career point on Jan. 13, 2013, would lead USC on the honor rolls, picked to the All-Pac-12 Team while also setting USC program records for free throws made (207) and attempted (298) in a singles season. She also was selected as Pac-12 Player of the Week on Jan. 7, 2013. Also scoring conference accolades last season were Brianna Barrett (Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention & Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention) and Ariya Crook (All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention).
TUNE IN TO THE TROJANS
The 2013-14 Women of Troy will get plenty of face-time this season with 18 USC women's basketball games scheduled to be televised this season. The Trojans have one matchup with Stanford set for a national audience on ESPN2, along with 17 games on the Pac-12 Networks. All but one conference game is due to be televised. All told, USC face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and play a total of 12 regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season.
125 YEARS OF GREATNESS
Since fielding a football team in 1888, USC has had an unparalleled athletic tradition, including 120 national team championships, an unprecedented 419 Olympians and 52 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars as the Trojan family celebrates its 125th anniversary this 2013-14 academic year. Including the USC women's soccer team's historic 2007 NCAA Championship victory, USC boasts a grand total of 120 national team championships, including a national-best 82 men's NCAA crowns. Trojan men have won more individual NCAA titles (309) than those from any other school, while the Women of Troy have added another 69 individual NCAA titles. Four Trojans have won the prestigious Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Two Women of Troy athletes have won the Honda Cup as the top collegiate female athlete of the year and there have been 15 Honda Award winners as the top female athlete in their sport. USC not only has more Olympians than any school, but more Olympic medalists (287) and gold medalists (135). USC water polo is a big part of that Olympic tradition, having sent 10 Trojans to the 2012 Olympics in Beijing, with four Trojans winning medals. Thanks in part to USC's water polo participants, a Trojan has won a gold medal in every summer Olympics since 1912. Go to usctrojans.com/125 to revisit the athletic highlights for Trojans the past 125 years.