USC Women Celebrate Thanksgiving With Competition In Cancun

    Kaneisha Horn has two games as a Trojan under her belt as she and the Women of Troy head to Cancun.

    Nov. 26, 2013

    USC Women's Basketball ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    The USC women's basketball team will spend Thanksgiving 2013 alongside international waters as the Trojans travel to Mexico to compete in the Cancun Challenge. USC (3-2) has three games in three days set up against fellow Mayan Tournament teams Iowa (5-1), UNC Wilmington (1-4) and Boston College (2-2). The Trojans kick off with a Turkey Day clash against Iowa at 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday (Nov. 28). The next day (Nov. 29), USC faces UNC Wilmington -- formerly coached by USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke -- at 7:30 p.m. CT. USC wraps up action with a 5 p.m. CT matchup against Boston College on Saturday (Nov. 30).

    December 30, 1993
    Los Angeles, Calif. (USC Christmas Tournament)
    Live stats through GameTracker will be available for all games through the USC women's basketball page at Live video streaming of all games also will be provided at the following links:
    USC vs. Iowa
    USC vs. UNC Wilmington
    USC vs. Boston College
    USC is unranked in the national polls as the Trojans enter the fourth week of 2013-14 competition. Iowa is receiving votes in the AP poll, while UNC Wilmington and Boston College both are unranked.

    After a 3-0 start to the season, USC took its first losses in back-to-back games against top-20 opponents last week. USC first came up against a hot-shooting Oklahoma State squad on a cold night in Stillwater, where the Trojans took their first loss of 2013-14 with a 82-51 defeat at the hands of the No. 20 Cowgirls. The Trojans carried some of the cold night air in with them as the Trojans opened up with a cool showing from the floor while the Cowgirls started out hot. The slow going out of the gates stalled out the Women of Troy, who would fall into a 26-point hole before getting some good shots to go late in the half. OSU's 44-22 halftime lead was built on 47-percent shooting from the floor and a 10-of-12 showing at the free-throw line. USC, meanwhile, got to the stripe just twice in the half and finished the first 20 minutes of play shooting 35 percent from the floor. The Cowgirls were able to up their scoring pace a bit more in the second half, heading to the line less but keeping the Trojans at bay as they finished off the game shooting 52 percent from the floor. USC stayed a course similar to its first half output while netting some extra free throws thanks to OSU foul trouble. In the end, the Women of Troy hit at 33 percent from the floor. The Cowgirls led on the boards to the tune of 39 rebounds to 29 from USC. Ariya Crook was USC's only player to finish in double figures with 12 on the night, while Cassie Harberts and Alexyz Vaioletama added eight each. USC then returned home to Galen Center to host No. 17 South Carolina. The Gamecocks were able to create some space on the Women of Troy in the second half, breaking open a six-point halftime margin and extended it out to a 70-50 win over host USC. USC snagged one-point leads twice in the first half and remained close thanks to a couple steals and scored that had the Trojans within two entering the last 3:30 of the first half. The Gamecocks always seemed to have an answer for any Trojan scoring burst, though, and that ability caused big trouble for USC in the second half. After holding a 30-24 halftime lead, South Carolina opened the second with a 6-0 run to make it a double-digit advantage. USC would get no closer, managing back-to-back buckets only sparingly as the Gamecocks left the Trojans out of reach. -South Carolina finished the night shooting 50 percent from the floor and hitting 20-of-26 from the line. USC, meanwhile, hit at 39 percent but converted only half of its 18 free-throw tries. The Gamecocks also led on the boards 35-30 while forcing 22 turnovers out of the Trojans. Crook and Harberts hit double digits for the Women of Troy with 16 and 14 points apiece.

    The Hawkeyes are 5-1 overall after last beating Northern Iowa 67-60 last weekend. Samantha Logic leads Iowa in scoring with 15.8 points per game, and Kali Peschel leads on the boards with 7.5 rebounds per game. The Hawkeyes went 21-13 last season with a trip to the NCAA Second Round. USC is 1-3 all-time against Iowa, but the teams haven't faced since the 1994-95 season, when Iowa won it third straight game over the Trojans. USC won in the first-ever meeting in 1984-85 with a 77-57 victory. All games have been played at neutral sites.

    The Seahawks enter this tournament at 1-4 overall after losing to Tulane 55-50 last week. Kelva Atkins leads UNCW in scoring with 18.2 points per game, and Ryan Flowers leads on the boards with 7.2 rebounds per game. The Seahawks went 5-26 last season. Current USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke coached at UNCW for two seasons, posting a 24-9 record in 2010-11 and 20-13 record in 2011-12. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and UNC Wilmington.

    The Eagles enter this tournament at 2-2 overall after beating Florida International 89-69 last week. Kristen Doherty leads BC in scoring and rebounding with 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Eagle went 12-18 last season. This will be the first-ever meeting between USC and Boston College.

    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 played their home opener against San Diego State, which had handed USC a big loss last season. This year, the Trojans were ready for the Aztecs and stayed composed down the stretch to fend off a late push and lock in a 65-61 win over visiting San Diego State. The win puts the Trojans at 3-0 overall, marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that USC has made such a winning start. San Diego State scored more points from the free-throw line than it did from the floor in the first half as the referees' whistles blew 13 fouls against the Trojans in the first 20 minutes of play. USC's counterattack was a stifling defense that forced 15 Aztec turnovers and converted 12 points off those pickoffs. USC led by as much as 19 points during the first half, but that was trimmed down to a 32-19 lead at the half. USC had hit at a 42-percent clip from the floor to outpace the Aztecs' 16-percent effort, although SDSU was 13-of-16 from the free-throw line by halftime. In the second half, USC's foul trouble put the Trojans on the heels a bit more and created some space for San Diego State's Cierra Warren to heat up. She had zero points at halftime but would finish with a game-high 21 to fuel a late push from the Aztecs. San Diego State cut things down to three points in the final seconds but ran out of time. Credit the Trojans with some key surges of scoring in the second half to help build up a lead that would prove just insurmountable for the Aztecs. By the final buzzer, the Women of Troy had cooled to 40 percent shooting while SDSU finished out at 43 percent thanks to a hot 64-percent effort in the second half. USC overmatched the Aztecs on the board 38-32 and finished with 11 steals to SDSU's seven. USC's scoring effort was led by Ariya Crook with 18 points and Cassie Harberts with 17, with Alexyz Vaioletama adding 12. Warren was the top scorer on the night with her 21 points, joined by teammate Danesha Long with 12 for the Aztecs.

    USC got out to its first winning start to a season since 2005-06, celebrating the new era under head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke with two road wins to open 2013-14. USC topped UC Davis 64-55 and then beat Fresno State 63-54. Both wins avenged losses taken by the Trojans last season. Against the Aggies, USC put a dramatic flair on Cooper-Dyke's first win as head coach of the Women of Troy, battling out of a second-half deficit to beat host UC Davis. The road win in USC's season opener didn't come easy, as the referee's whistle interrupted things and the Trojans also worked to find a rhythm in their first official game of the year. Still, behind clutch 3-pointers from Ariya Crook, who scored 24 points on the night, and a team effort that saw 10 Trojans score, USC pulled off its 27th season-opening victory. USC led by as much as nine points in the first half but had to gut out seven lead changes and dig out of a three-point hole in the second half in order to match that nine-point advantage by the final buzzer. It was a topsy turvy first half for the Women of Troy, who had a hot first 12 minutes before a lull hit the Trojans as UC Davis slipped back into the lead. USC wrapped the first half clinging to a 32-28 lead on a 45-percent shooting effort from the floor. UC Davis had been aided by a bevy of trips to the line, as the Aggies went 12-of-14 from the stripe in the first half to accompany a 39-percent outing from the floor. In the second, things got even wilder, as trips to the line became more frequent and shooting from the floor slumped on both ends. In the end, The Trojans would win out, shooting 41 percent overall from the floor to UC Davis' 33 percent. The Trojans also outrebounded the Aggies 39-31 down the stretch. Ariya Crook and her four 3-pointers led the way for all on the scoring front, as the junior finished with 24 points on the night, while Brianna Barrett joined her in double figures with a career-high 11. Barrett also swiped a career-high nine rebounds for the Trojan cause, followed by Cassie Harberts with eight boards. UC Davis got a team-high 14 points from Kelsey Harris and 10 from Molly Greubel. Two days later, the Trojans had to adjust for a dangerous outside attack from the host Bulldogs, countering with a strong effort on the boards to limit second chances for their foes. Cassie Harberts and Alexyz Vaioletama led the charge with 12 rebounds apiece, as Harberts finished with her first double-double of the year in adding 13 points to the Trojan cause. The Trojans were on a roller coaster ride in the first half, creating a 14-point swing into the lead on some stingy defense before the Bulldogs hit back and closed the gap to 23-22 Trojans at halftime. USC was shooting at a 38-percent clip by the break, but were plagued by 11 turnovers. Fresno State was hitting at a cooler 22 percent from the floor but was slightly warmer from beyond the arc to stay within one point of the Trojans entering the final 20 minutes of action. Once again, USC had to claw back from a second-half deficit, having trailed the Bulldogs by four with 11:42 remaining in the game. An assist from Harberts to Kate Oliver preceded a three-point play from Harberts to spark a lead that USC wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way. USC finished the game with Harberts in the books with a double-double on 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Ariya Crook led the squad with 14 points and Jordan Adams added 12. USC shot 40 percent from the floor in the game to outpace Fresno State's 32 percent day. The Bulldogs were led by 16 points from Bree Farley, while Alex Sheedy had a double-double of her own with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

    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 returns 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 finished 11-20 and seventh in the Pac-12, missing the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season.

    One thing that the team hasn't experienced in a while is the luxury of having 11 healthy players return to this year's roster. Injury depletion has 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 is hitting her stride as she enters her senior season already named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 list and as a finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award. She was an All-Pac-12 Team pick last year after averaging 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, which helped launch her into a new realm in being selected a member of the USA's World University Games team, winning gold in Russia this past summer. Last season, Harberts led the Trojans in points, rebounds, and blocks and finished third in the Pac-12 in points per game, while she also set USC records in free throws made (207) and attempted (298). She is currently No. 16 all-time at USC with 1,293 career points. Fellow senior Kate Oliver averaged 5.7 points per game and a 66.7 free-throw percentage last season. The Australian lefty brings a skillful shooting ability to the Trojan front court and saw much development in only her first season at USC last year. She and Harberts make for a dynamic and daunting presence at the post position, as both players boast an ability to pop out and knock down shots from distance. Their senior compatriots Bradley and Totten are primed for the perimeter in their final seasons as Trojans, as both are proven sharp-shooters for the Women of Troy.

    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 our of Mater Dei High 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 will come 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 Women of Troy only graduated one player from last year's squad, but it won't be an easy hole to fill. The Trojans need to find a way to replace Christina Marinacci, a force on the boards as USC's No. 9 all-time rebounder (738) and a stubborn defensive specialist. Don't be surprised to see freshman Drew Edelman step up to fill that role as a 6-foot-4 powerhouse under the basket. Fellow newcomer Courtney Jaco is fitting in nicely at the point guard position and can knock down 3-pointers like there's no tomorrow. Cooper is already been impressed by what these two newcomers have to offer. The Trojans are also excited to bring 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. Horn is good to go this season, having finished her undergraduate degree in three years at Alabama. 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.

    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 will face eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, and will play a total of 12 regular-season contests against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the final national polls last season.

    Senior Cassie Harberts is the centerpiece of the USC team and has established herself as on of USC's top players all-time. She enters 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. As a freshman, she tallied a 31-point game, which was the most points scored by a Trojan freshman since 1981. Last season, the 2013 All-Pac-12 selection led the Trojans in almost every major statistical category and ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring (18.0 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (8.2 rpg). During her USC career to date she 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 Pac-12 Player of the Week awards to go along with her consistent academic accolades. She has recorded 17 double-doubles 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.

    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, so the Trojans do have some sizable shoes to fill. Fortunately, USC returns standout post Cassie Harberts, who led USC in scoring, rebounding and free throws last season as a junior. She started every single game for the Trojans -- the only player to do so. 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. 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.

    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).

    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 to revisit the athletic highlights for Trojans the past 125 years. •