USC Women Head Back On The Road For Tilts At Texas A&M and Sac State|
Nov. 28, 2016
Wednesday, Nov. 30 | 11 a.m. CT | College Station, Texas
USC (5-1) at #25 Texas A&M (5-0)
USC (5-1) hits the road once more this week, journeying first to Texas to take on No. 25 Texas A&M (5-0) in an 11 a.m. CT matchup on Wednesday (Nov. 30) in College Station. From there, USC will travel back to California to pay a visit to Sacramento State (2-4) with a 7:35 p.m. start against the Hornets on Saturday (Dec. 3).
IN THE NATION
USC is unranked in the latest national polls. Texas A&M is ranked No. 25 in this week’s AP poll.
In the fifth game of the season (Nov. 23), redshirt senior Jordan Adams suffered a season-ending ACL tear (left knee). Dani Milisic was sidelined for the first four games (knee) and was cleared to play for her first action on Nov. 23.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
The No. 25 Aggies are 5-0 overall after beating Little Rock 55-37 and Abeline Christian 71-45 last week. The Aggies are led in scoring by Danni Williams (20.0 ppg) and in rebounding by Anriel Howard (12.8 rpg). USC is 2-2 all-time against Texas A&M. The last game between USC and Texas A&M was a 79-61 win by the Aggies on Dec. 15, 2012 at the Galen Center. USC’s last win over the Aggies was a 112-42 decision in the 1980-81 season in Los Angeles.
SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE
The Hornets are 2-4 overall after beating Hofstra 97-85 last week. Sacramento State will face Stanislaus State on Tuesday before facing USC. The Hornets are led in scoring by Maranne Johnson (12.7 ppg) and in rebounding by Margaret Huntington (10.7 rpg). USC is 4-0 all-time against Sacramento State. The Trojans’ last win over the Hornets was a 101-99 victory on Dec. 14, 2014 at the Galen Center.
USC scooped up a win on its return home from a three-game road trip, topping Long Beach State 82-74 to improve to 5-1 on the year. Four Women of Troy hit double digits in the game, led by a career-high 23 points from freshman Minyon Moore and a third straight double-double from junior Kristen Simon. The 49ers kept the pressure on the Trojans down the stretch, but USC would hold on and keep its guests at bay in order to ring up a third consecutive victory. USC’s newcomers came to play in this one, accounting for 33 of USC’s 40 points in the first half. Minyon Moore was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point land in those 20 minutes, landing three of those in the late stages of the second quarter to give USC a much-needed boost. The lead traded hands seven times in the first half, with Long Beach State eclipsing a once 10-point USC lead and moving ahead 30-29 with 3:15 left in the half. That’s where Moore’s efforts turned the tide, as she landed a trio of threes in the last three minutes to carry USC to a 40-33 halftime advantage. USC shot 48 percent from the floor in the half to outpace LBSU’s 27 percent. The 49ers forced their way into a lead in the third, but USC responded with an overwhelming 17-0 scoring rally that was soon followed by a 10-0 surge, and all of a sudden the Trojans were gripping a healthy 68-48 lead on the way into the fourth. That padding would prove crucial as the 49ers clawed their way back to within six points in the final minute before Moore dumped in two last free throws with 12 ticks to go and secure victory for her Trojans. USC committed 29 turnovers in the game but was aided by a 52-percent shooting effort from the floor and a 43-32 advantage on the boards. Long Beach State finished out the game going 36 percent from the floor while landing eight 3-pointers. Minyon Moore led all scorers in setting a new career high for herself with 23 points. She’d also deliver seven assists and nab three steals. Kristen Simon came in next with 19 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the year and 12th of her career. USC also got double digits from Sadie Edwards and Valerie Higgins — the freshman’s first double-digit game as a Trojan. Long Beach State received 21 points from Gigi Hascheff, who hit five threes in the game — and 16 points from Chanterria Jackson. USC was playing without Jordan Adams tonight, following a torn ACL suffered by the redshirt senior in USC’s previous game (Nov. 23 vs. Portland in Anchorage, Alaska).
ON THE RISE
USC senior guard Courtney Jaco’s 3-point threat has been well established, and the sharpshooter continues to stake her claim in the USC record books. She started her senior season ranked as USC’s No. 5 all-time 3-point shooter. With 10 threes landed this season, she has climbed up to No. 4 all-time, now with 155 career 3-pointers made. She also stands as USC’s fourth most productive 3-pointer shooter with a career average of 37.9% from beyond the arc.
USC junior forward Kristen Simon has tacked up double-doubles in four of USC’s first six games, including back-to-back double-double outings at the Great Alaska Shootout, where she was named Most Outstanding Player at the tournament. After a third consecutive double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds vs. Long Beach State on Sunday, she now boasts 12 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.
PUNCH FROM THE BENCH
USC freshman guard Minyon Moore was the first 20-point scorer this season (vs. UC Riverside, Nov. 16) and also served up a whopping 11 assists (vs. Missouri State, Nov. 22) -- the most by a Trojan since Briana Gilbreath in 2012 -- in a single game. Those efforts all came off the bench from Moore, who has averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 assists and 2.8 steals through her first six games as a Trojan. Against Long Beach State, she set a new career high for herself with 23 points -- a season high for the Trojans to date.
USC BY THE NUMBERS
Led by Kristen Simon’s team-high 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game entering this week, the Women of Troy have been putting up some strong numbers in 2016-17. Defensively, USC is holding opponents to just 60.8 points per game and has forced 21.0 turnovers per game by its opponents. Individually, USC has two players averaging double digits, and one more knocking on that door. The tightly knit group of scoring leaders has Simon on top with her 14.5 ppg, followed by freshman Minyon Moore with 14.2 ppg. Just outside that window, junior Sadie Edwards is at 9.7 ppg. USC’s top distributor is easily Moore, who averages 5.2 assists per game off the bench. As a team, USC is averaging 74.5 points per game, shooting .466 from the floor and .643 from the free-throw line. USC is outrebounding opponents 227-211.
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 will significantly up the Trojans’ post presence, and bring some key balance to their gameplan 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.
There’s plenty of experience coming back to aid the Trojan cause this season. Redshirt senior Jordan Adams pairs with fellow seniors Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd while juniors Sadie Edwards and Kristen Simon will continue the upward trajectory they set off on as sophomores. True sophomores Aliyah Mazyck, Candela Abejón and Marguerite Effa now have a year of competition under their belts to help anchor a powerful blend of talent on the Trojan roster for 2016-17. Three years ago, the Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament Championship 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 and those veterans — Adams, Jaco and Lloyd — look to help lead their 2016-17 team to another postseason appearance as they wrap their Trojan careers this season.
Redshirt freshman forward Dani Milisic will check 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.
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 several international squads. It was an invaluable chance to grow as a team. From bike rides along the Sile River, to climbing the Tower of Pisa, to photo ops in the Coliseum in Rome (VERY different from the Los Angeles Coliseum, we learned!), the Women of Troy made many powerful new 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 with on-court competition as a team.
USC women’s basketball has hauled in two key Californians with the signing of Shalexxus Aaron and Destiny Littleton to national letters of intent, USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke announced on Nov. 9, 2016. 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 and significant backcourt strengths to bring to the Trojan gameplan, and overall are exciting and welcome new members of the Trojan Family. Shalexxus Aaron will come to Troy from Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Calif., 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, Calif. 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 competed as a member of the 2015 USA Basketball U16 National Team. She’s also closing in on the California state scoring record as she digs into her senior season at The Bishop’s School. She is 905 points shy of passing record-holderCharde Houston (3,837), who was also coached by Littleton’s high school coach and guardian, Marlon Wells.
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. Fegbenle 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. •