USC Women Wrap Up Regular Season In Arizona This Week|
Feb. 21, 2017
Friday, Feb. 24 | 7 p.m. PT
USC (14-13, 5-11) at #23 Arizona State (17-10, 8-8)
PxP: Anne Marie Anderson | Analyst: Tammy Blackburn
Sunday, Feb. 26 | 1 p.m. PT
USC (14-13, 5-11) at Arizona (13-14, 4-12)
PxP: Cindy Brunson | Analyst: Maylana Martin Douglas
USC’s last regular-season road trip takes the Women of Troy to the desert in a final push to upgrade seedings for the coming Pac-12 Tournament. USC (14-13, 5-11 Pac-12) will look to top off a season sweep of Arizona State when the Trojans pay a visit to the No. 23 Sun Devils (17-10, 8-8) for an 8 p.m. MT matchup on Friday (Feb. 24) in Tempe. Then, USC caps off the regular season looking to grab a repeat win over Arizona (13-14, 4-12), taking on the Wildcats at 2 p.m. MT on Sunday (Feb. 26) in Tucson.
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the latest national polls. Arizona State is ranked No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches poll and is receiving votes in the AP poll this week. Arizona 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 then missed six more games (Jan. 27-Feb. 12) with the same issue, returning to action on Feb. 17. Marguerite Effa missed four games (Dec. 30-Jan. 8) with injury and has not played the past three games. Kristen Simon missed three games (Jan. 13-18) for personal reasons. Valerie Higgins missed the Jan. 15 game vs. OSU with injury (knee).
The Wildcats enter the week 13-14 overall and 4-12 in Pac-12 play after a split against rival ASU last week, winning 62-58 in Tucson and then falling 67-54 in Tempe. LaBrittney Jones leads ASU in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). USC is 57-21 all-time against Arizona after beating the Wildcats 58-54 last month in LA.
The No. 23 Sun Devils enter the week 17-10 overall and 8-8 in Pac-12 play after a split against rival Arizona last week, falling 62-58 in Tucson and then winning 67-54 in Tempe. Sophie Brunner leads ASU in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg). USC is 55-23 all-time against ASU after upsetting the then-No. 16 Sun Devils 65-50 last month in LA.
USC got a home split last week, beating WSU 80-64 and falling 87-74 to #9 Washington. Amidst a deluge outdoors on Friday, USC swamped visiting Washington State 80-64 in an important Pac-12 win. Freshman Minyon Moore emerged with 32 points to lead the Trojans, becoming USC’s first 30-point scorer in three years. USC was hitting at a 54-percent clip in the first half of action to outshine WSU’s 30 percent shooting effort in those first 20 minutes of play. A big part of the Trojan offense in the opening stretch was thanks to Moore, who went a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor including back-to-back threes to close out the first half with 18 points. That effort was instrumental in USC’s 39-25 lead at the break. In the next half of action, Moore would work her way to a new career high while she was joined by Kristen Simon and Courtney Jaco in double digits. Simon would get her ninth double-double of the season in the books during the third quarter. Moore, meanwhile, kept on churning out points. She’d finish up with 32 points — the most by a Trojan since 2014 — as she helped USC wrap up the 80-64 final victory. USC shot 51 percent overall in the game, while WSU finished up at 35 percent. The Trojans drained eight 3-pointers — four from Jaco, who finished with 12 points on the night — and WSU hit five. USC also won out on the boards 40-36, led by Simon’s 11 rebounds to go with her 14 points for her 17th career double-double. WSU had four players finish in double figures, led by 13 from Alexys Swedlund and netting 12 from Caila Hailey, 11 from Nike McClure and 10 from Maria Kostourkova. Two days later, USC made a strong stand against visiting No. 9 Washington, but the Huskies got hot at all the right moments to forge a path to an 87-74 victory. Both teams were hot out of the gates, but only Washington was able to keep steaming along for the full 20 minutes of the first half. USC was shooting 56 percent in the first quarter, with the Huskies slightly hotter at 58 as both teams also nailed four 3-pointers in the opening stretch. USC would get ahead of the Huskies 28-22 to start off the second quarter, only to see Washington catch fire. Kelsey Plum dropped 20 points in nine minutes to fan the Huskies’ flames up to a 54-35 halftime lead over the host Trojans. At the break, Washington was up a 59-percent effort from the floor while USC had cooled down to 44 percent. While Plum went silent in the third quarter, USC made the most of the opportunity to make some moves. USC landed three 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater from Minyon Moore to carve a once-22-point deficit down to seven by the close of the third as the frame closed with UW holding a 63-56 lead. That would be as close as the Trojans would get, though. USC hung around, but could carve down the deficit no farther, while Washington nailed two more threes in the last 1:40 of play to help finish off the 87-74 Husky victory. For the second straight game, USC was led in scoring by freshman Minyon Moore, who followed up Friday’s 32-point outing with 20 points today. Kristen Simon delivered her second straight double-double — her 10th of the season — with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Aliyah Mazyck came in next with 15 points, nailing a trio of threes for the Trojan cause, as did senior Courtney Jaco, who finished up with 11 points for USC. Washington also had four players hit double figures, left by a game-high 35 points from Kelsey Plum. Chantal Osahor was next with 16 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double of her own, while Hannah Johnson added 12 points and Aarion McDonald had 11 for the Huskies. Washington finished out the game shooting 50 percent from the floor to outpace USC’s 41 percent. The Huskies hit 11 threes in the game to nine from the Trojans, and the teams ended up even on the boards with 37 rebounds apiece.
MORE FOR MOORE
After leading the Women of Troy in scoring for the past three games, Minyon Moore grabbed her second selection of the season as Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Jan. 20. In a key rematch against Washington State, Moore had 18 points by halftime and went on to finish out the USC victory with a 32-point performance. That marked the most points by a Trojan since 2014. Two days later, Moore led the Trojans once again, putting up 20 points and dishing out six assists in a loss to No. 9 Washington. While nailing two 3-pointers in each game, Moore also made a strong stand at the free-throw line in both games, going 14-of-17 against WSU and 6-of-8 against Washington. USC’s second leading scorer to date with 11.8 points per game, Moore leads the team in assists (4.2 per game) and in steals (2.0 per game)
USC BY THE NUMBERS
Led by Kristen Simon’s team-high 14.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, the Women of Troy have put together a 14-13 overall record to date and and RPI of 62 (as of 2/20) with wins over four ranked teams. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to 64.7 points per game and has forced 18.1 turnovers per game by its opponents. As a team, USC is averaging 68.3 points per game, shooting .429 from the floor and .708 from the free-throw line. Individually, USC has three players averaging double digits. The group of scoring leaders has Simon on top with her 14.8 ppg, followed by freshman Minyon Moore with 11.8 ppg, and senior Courtney Jaco at 10.8 ppg. USC’s top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 4.2 assists per game. Moore also leads the team in steals with 2.0 spg.
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 64 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 209 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. Jaco also is the only Trojan to significantly up her production in Pac-12 play. She’s averaging 11.8 points, 1.4 steals and 1.9 rebounds per game in conference play, while shooting 85.7 percent from the free-throw line to outpace her respective overall season marks of 10.8 ppg, 1.2 spg, 1.6 rpg and 77.8 FT%.
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in 10 of her 24 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. After two more double-doubles collected last weekend vs. WSU and UW, she now boasts 18 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 11.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals through her first 27 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. Most recently, Moore hit the history books again, scoring 32 points to stand as the first USC 30-point scorer since 2014. She’d grab another set of Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors on Feb. 20 after that weekend’s performance, in which she also added 20 points vs. No. 9 Washington.
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 — the tallest Trojan since 6-6 Monica Lamb in the 1980s — 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 641 points (23.7 ppg) — 35% 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 sent a shockwave through Corvallis with a resounding 70-50 upset win of No. 9 Oregon State last week. USC shrugged off a second-half tie and hit the gas to maneuver out ahead of the Beavers on a total team effort by the Trojans. The win is USC’s fourth over a ranked team this year and first since the Trojans upset No. 4 Stanford in the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. USC’s next victim that year? Oregon State in the championship match. That was the Trojans’ last win over the Beavers, and tonight’s 20-point victory is just one shy of USC’s next-largest win over the Beavers — an 81-60 victory earlier in that 2013-14 season. It was USC’s first win in Corvallis since 2012-13.The Trojans caught fire in the first frame, hitting at a 60-percent clip while maneuvering out of a seven-point deficit and out to a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Sadie Edwards was in double digits by the end of those first 10 minutes for the Trojans. In the second quarter, OSU finally got some momentum on its side as fouls mounted against USC. Only eight points registered for USC in the second quarter, but the Trojans still gripped a 29-26 lead at the break. USC shot 43 percent from the floor to OSU’s 40 percent in that first half of action. In the second half, USC turned up the juice, shooting 54 percent in the last 20 minutes to outpace OSU’s 30 percent in those last 20 minutes. The final count had USC hitting a 48-percent clip from the floor while OSU shot 35 percent. The Beavers edged out the Trojans 35-33 on the boards but committed 20 turnovers that saw USC turn into 28 points. USC nabbed 14 steals, led by a career-high five from Valerie Higgins. By the final buzzer, USC had Sadie Edwards with a game-high 17 points, joined in double digits by Courtney Jaco with 15 points and Kristen Simon with 14. OSU had one Beaver in double digits with Sydney Wiese (17).
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.
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 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.