USC Women Shoves Off To Oregon To Take On The Beavers And Ducks|
Feb. 7, 2017
Friday, Feb. 10 | 8 p.m.
USC (12-11, 3-9) at #9 Oregon State (22-2, 11-1)
PxP: Cindy Brunson | Analyst: Maylana Martin Douglas
Sunday, Feb. 12 | 11 a.m.
USC (12-11, 3-9) at Oregon (15-9, 5-7)
PxP: Ann Schatz | Analyst: Tammy Blackburn
USC continues a road-heavy February with a journey out of state for more Pac-12 action. The Trojans (12-11, 3-9 Pac-12) have another top-10 tilt on tap this week with a clash at No. 9 Oregon State (22-2, 11-2) at 8 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 10) in Corvallis. Then, USC heads over to Eugene to look for vengeance over Oregon (15-9, 5-7) in an 11 a.m. contest on Sunday (Feb. 12). Both games will be televised on Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Oregon. Friday’s game also will air nationally on Pac-12 Network.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the latest national polls. Oregon State is ranked No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the USA Today/Coaches poll. Oregon is unranked.
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 past four games (Jan. 27-Feb.5) 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 Beavers enter the week 22-2 overall and 11-1 in Pac-12 play after beating ASU 54-45 and Arizona 65-57 last week. Sydney Wiese leads OSU in scoring with 15.2 ppg, and Marie Gulich leads in rebounding with8.0 rpg. USC is 41-26 all-time against OSU after a 74-60 loss in their meeting last month. USC’s last win over OSU was a 71-62 victory in the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament Championship game in Seattle.
The Ducks enter the week 15-9 overall and 5-7 in Pac-12 play after beating Arizona 79-65 and falling to ASU 68-63 last week. Ruthy Hebard leads Oregon in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg). USC is 45-20 all-time against Oregon after a 59-53 loss last month. USC’s last win over the Ducks was a 74-67 victory last season in Los Angeles.
USC was in stride with No. 8 Stanford early on, but fell out of step with the Cardinal after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer fell at the close of the first half. Stanford would get hot in the third quarter, firing out ahead of the visiting Trojans as the Cardinal proved bound-and-determined to collect a 1,000th career with for Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer at Maples Pavilion. A 58-42 Stanford win on the Cardinal’s home court secured that historic victory for VanDerveer. USC never led in the game, but was even at 8-8 during the first frame. USC was outshooting the Cardinal in that first quarter from the floor, but Stanford benefited from trips to the free-throw line as Stanford held a 14-10 lead at the end of the first. Stanford would creep out ahead 31-22 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Erica McCall to answer a bucket from Kristen Simon, and momentum was officially on Stanford’s side from there. Five straight points from USC freshman Ja’Tavia Tapley had USC within eight midway through the third, but Stanford’s Karlie Samuelson scored 11 points in the last 3:44 of the third to get the Cardinal to a 20-point advantage. In the fourth, USC’s Simon and Minyon Moore would both work their ways into double digits, but it wasn’t enough to erase the Stanford lead. Simon would finish out the game with 11 points, with Moore adding 10 for the Trojans. Fellow freshmen Valerie Higgins and Tapley combined for 11 points, and senior Courtney Jaco continued her 3-point scoring streak and wrapped the day with six points. USC shot 31.3 percent from the floor in the game, compared to Stanford’s 37-percent effort. The Cardinal were paced by Samuelson’s 21 points, along with 18 from McCall and 10 from Brittany McPhee. Stanford also won out on the boards 39-27. In Berkeley two days later, USC forced 13 ties and fought through 12 lead changes, but it was host California that made the final rally when it counted. The Bears turned the game’s 13th tie into an 8-0 run and held on in the final stretch to post a 63-56 win over the Trojans. Cal was shooting at a 54-percent clip in the first half to USC’s 39 percent as the lead traded hands six times in those first 20 minutes of action. Junior Kristen Simon had accounted for 13 of USC’s 25 first-half points to help the Trojans keep largely in stride with the Golden Bears, who led it 28-25 at the break. The teams would pull even seven times in second half before Cal managed an 8-0 run to steal into the lead for good. The Bears wrapped the game shooting 50 percent from the floor and outrebounding the Trojans 35-25. USC shot 41 percent in the losing effort.vUSC was led by Kristen Simon’s 24 points and nine rebounds as she finished as the only Trojan in double figures. Cal had four players hit double digits, with 17 from Penina Davidson, 14 from Asha Thomas and 10 apiece from Kristine Anigwe and Mikayla Cowling. Davidson and Anigwe each had nine rebounds for Cal.
UPSETTING THE SUN DEVILS
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 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, the Women of Troy have put together a 12-11 overall record to date. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to 64.0 points per game and has forced 18.5 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 15.3 ppg, followed by senior Courtney Jaco with 10.8 ppg, freshman Minyon Moore at 10.6 ppg and junior Sadie Edwards with 10.3 ppg. USC’s top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 4.3 assists per game. As a team, USC is averaging 68.3 points per game, shooting .430 from the floor and .705 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 53 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 198 career threes made. She also stands as USC’s most productive 3-point shooter with a career average of 39.1% from beyond the arc to date.
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in eight of her 20 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 10.6 points, 4.3 assists and 2.2 steals through her first 23 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 518 points (22.5 ppg) — 33% 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. 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 ranked as the #16 guard in the nation by ESPN, was league MVP as a freshman and participated in the USA Under-16 and under-17 team trials. A 5-9 guard, Destiny Littleton was 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. On Jan. 14 of this year, Littleton broke the California state scoring record. •