January 20, 2008

What a yo-yo!

TEMPE, Ariz -- We are at halftime here in Tempe and ASU is holding on to a solid 11-point lead.

ASU is being led by Sybil Dosty who is working hard down low for every one of her eight points while Kayli Murphy is ASU's defensive specialist from the first half with her 10 total rebounds, seven of which are on the defensive end.

Stanford is currently being paced by Jayne Appel who is also battling it out down low to get her eight points.

For our halftime entertainment we have synchronized and choreographed yo-yo throwers of Allyoyo.com. It must be the heat of the Arizona sun that helps such a group exist.

Stay tuned...

Stanford 20
ASU 31

January 19, 2008

It's A Good Day To Be A Trojan

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The rivalry between USC and UCLA in any sport or acadmic discipline is intense. Each school wants to be known as being better than the other and that intense nature between the two schools was proudly displayed in the 64-56 USC home win over UCLA.

"It was another great game and great crowd for southern California girls basketball," said USC coach Mark Trakh. "It came down to the end again like they all do. They are a hot team. They came in as a hot team and were playing really well. We knew they had a big front line and some athletic guards so we knew we had to come to play. The game was a lot of fun and entertaining with some great plays by both teams."

While all 40 minutes of the game was exciting to watch, it is the series of events with the score at 59-56 in USC's favor during the last six-tenths of the game which will keep everyone talking.

It was with less than a second on the clock when UCLA's senior forward Lindsey Pluimer took a last-hope three-point in the lshot to push the game into overtime when it was blocked by USC's junior center Nadia Parker. Parker's block was recovered by teammate and fifth-year senior Alison Jaskowiak who was trying to hold onto the ball. Jaskowiak got fouled and then it started to look ugly.

"I tried to foul because time was up," said Pluimer, who did catch an elbow in the left cheek. "We got tangled up and I think it looked bad in how we got tangled up. My teammates and their teammates came in trying to separate us out and that’s what happened."

It may have been messy to watch, but as USC and UCLA players started to come off their respective benches, that's what created a chaotic scene on the court.

After 15 minutes of review by the officials, Pluimer was assessed with a personal and technical foul, UCLA's Tierra Henderson and Chinyere Ibekwe were each given technical and personal fouls and Monique Alexander and Candice Brown were each ejected from the game for coming off the bench. On the USC side of the floor, Jaskowiak was issued a personal and technical foul while Jackie Gemelos (who is currently sitting out the season due to re-tearing her ACL) was also ejected from the game for coming off the bench. After the fouls stopped flying, Jaskowiak took to the free-throw line where she hit five out of the six free-throws she was given.

"It seemed like it got blown out of proportion for what it really was," said Jaskowiak. "They were trying to foul and we were trying to get the ball."

This captivating chain of events had all 8,545 in attendance on pins and needles at the end, but it was the toughness of these two teams battling it out through the previous 39.4 minutes that will be remembered in southern California women's basketball for years to come.

USC controlled the entire first half by running the score up to 33-16 going into half time. Highlights from the first half included a blocked shot by USC 5-foot-6 guard Camille LeNoir that led to a fastbreak and behind-the-back pass to teammate Heather Oliver for an easy two with 8:16 to go in the first half.

UCLA chipped away at USC's largest lead of 21 points early on in the second half, but at no point did USC become rattled by their lead diminishing. Instead, they stayed on-task and finished today's game with a win.

"I felt that at half time we were full of energy and were going to come out with the same intensity that we came out with in the first half," said Jaskowiak. "For the most part we did. We had a few lapses in defense and things like that. Their players stepped up, made some good shots and whenever we made errors they capitalized on it, which is what a good team should do. We just stayed level-headed and pushed through to the second half."

Leading the way for USC was Oliver with 15 points while Parker finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and LeNoir finishing with 12 points.

UCLA was led once again by the senior leadership of Pluimer and her 15 points while Tierra Henderson followed close behind with 12 points.

UCLA will be without Alexander and Brown as an ejection is an automatic one-game suspension while USC will not lose any players for next game as Gemelos is not playing this year.

Complimenting USC's win in women's basketball was USC's men also upsetting the No. 4-ranked UCLA men's basketball team across town at UCLA. With two USC basketball wins today, it definitely is a good day to be a Trojan.

That's it from the Galen Center! Catch everyone tomorrow in Tempe!

Photo finish

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We've got an official time out here at the Galen Center as the refs are reviewing the last play of the game.

A fight was on the verge of breaking out here after UCLA's Pluimer got her shot blocked by USC's Parker. USC's Jaskowiak then got the ball and while trying to protect the ball, inadvertantly threw an elbow that clocked UCLA's Pluimer.

What happend next will need to be described in my post-game, but to keep everyone in suspense, I'll tease you with the following foul and ejection count - UCLA - three technicals, one personal foul and three players ejected vs. USC - one technical and one player ejected.

It's all over, USC 64, UCLA 56...

More to come...

Hold your breath...

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- There's 10.6 seconds left and after getting a defensive rebound, UCLA just called a time out.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 56
USC 59

Two minute drill

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- There's less than two minutes left in the game and USC is holding on to their lead that started at the beginning of the game.

UCLA is playing a full court man press, but USC is able to break it.

UCLA in bear clawing their way in these final minutes.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 51
USC 58
Time: 1:50

Closing the gap

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We're in the last half of the second half and USC's lead has been whittling down.

UCLA may be owning the boards 39-30, but it's the Trojans who are in control of the game.

USC is shooting 43.4% for the game while UCLA continues to struggle with 33.9% shooting. UCLS is killing themselves from the free-throw line with 30% shooting.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 43
USC 58

Time: 5:20

Wait! That's a horse move!

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- We are in the second half and USC is holding onto its first-half lead.

UCLS is still having problems finding the bottom of the net after three missed shots in a row turned the ball back over to USC. USC's Brynn Cameron just added an exclamation mark to those missed shots by hitting a three-pointer to extend the lead.

One of the best quotes all season came from USC coach Mark Trakh during Pac-10 media day back in November about Cameron:

"She's the best shooting mom in the country."

Cameron is back this season after sitting out last season due to being pregnant and delivering her first son, Cole.

Meanwhile USC's Simone Jelks just pulled off a reverse no look lay-up and got the foul. If this was a game of chicken, UCLA may think that something was fowl with that last play. However, since it's the game of horse that is played in basketball, UCLA just got a letter by allowing Jelks to pull off that move.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 35
USC 45
Time: 11:11

The ones to watch are not the men

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- No disrespect to my colleague Bob Holtzman who is across town covering the USC vs. UCLA men's game for Posting Up, but Westwood is not the place to be in LA right now. Instead, it is here at the Galen Center where USC's Camille LeNoir just blocked a shot by UCLA's Nina Earl and then on the fastbreak did a behind-the-back pass to teammate (and G'day mate) Heather Oliver for an easy two. It was a series of moves that you usually only see in one of the men's games, so it's making this game the one to watch.

It's halftime and USC is off to a comfortable 33-16 lead thanks USC's favorite Aussie Oliver leading the team with 10 points and just about everyone contributing with a couple of points. It also doesn't hurt that USC is shooting 43.8% from the field while UCLA is struggling at their 25% shooting percentage. UCLA is currently being paced by Cinyere Ibekwe's team-leading eight points.

Stay tuned, more to come after the half...

Air Ball Boyko No More

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- While I am embarrassed enough to have shot not just one, but two air balls during my game of horse with Kathy Olivier, after seeing UCLA's Doreena Campbell just throw up an air ball from beyond the three-point line and right in front of the USC bench, I am suddenly not feeling so bad.

USC is continuing to dominate this game by building up a nice lead 23-9 lead in the first half.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 8
USC 23

Time on the clock: 5:00

The Tenacious Trojans

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- USC is currently up and I like what I am seeing from the Women of Troy.

They are playing with a lot of energy, confidence and appear to be tireless as they are running the floor, boxing out and playing tough defense. On offense there is a fearless sense about them. They are staying calm, finding their shot and not afraid to shoot from anywhere on the court.

UCLA however is struggling.

They are shooting dismal 21% from the field and have yet to break the double-digit mark. Adding to the Bruin frustration is that lid that seems to be on the south end net they are shooting at.

Stay tuned...

UCLA 8
USC 13

Time to make some noise!

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- We've just tipped off here at the Galen Center and USC has started off by winning the tip.

It took just over a minute, but USC is striking first with a sole free-throw by Heather Olivier.

Following-up on that free-throw is USC endjoying a 9-2 run in the first five minutes of the game.

USC is playing a tough full court press, picking off passes and being successful on fast break opportunities against UCLA, the Bruins just took their first time-out of the game at 16:12 to try to cool off the Trojans who are shooting 57% from the field.

The fans are loud and proud here as it is pizza delivery time.

Stay tuned....

UCLA 2
USC 9

15:39

A Day In Troy

LOS ANGELES, Calif -- There's still 20 minutes to go, but today being 'A Day in Troy' on USC's campus where elementary and junior high aged kids come to spend a day on campus and attend the basketball game, UCLA may not get the crowd behind them during this game.

Yes, the kiddies are present and accounted for here at the Galen Center. The entire upper level looks like it is going to be full and as we wait for season ticket holders to arrive, there's already a good crowd forming.

While walking around the concourse a few minutes ago I was reminded how kids can say the darndest things. Well, it was actually a shirt that read "Life. Get One" that caught my attention, but still pretty funny. The young girl wearing the shirt looked to be about 8 years old and with the t-shirt itself being Tennessee Volunteer orange, it was hard to miss.

Stay tuned...

The Ladies of LA

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Forget about wanting all of the tea in China, it's all about the bragging rights in LA today!

UCLA (9-8, 4-2 Pac-10) has made the 15-mile trek over here to USC's (10-7, 3-3 Pac-10) Galen Center today. Since the history of the rivalry between the LA schools in the Pac-10 is full of heart-breaking and full-combat stories, today's match-up should be no exception.

First for the visitors from Westwood (who USC fans often refer to as that high school over in Westwood) there are the UCLA Bruins. UCLA is riding high at the moment after sweeping both Washington schools on the road and knocking off No. 2 Stanford at home earlier this month.

With two players -- senior Lindsey Pluimer and freshman Nina Earl -- averaging in double-figures and three other freshman on the cusp of also averaging double digit figures, UCLA is averaging 71.6 ppg and rankes second in the Pac-10. Right now UCLA is tied for third place with Stanford in the Pac-10, but with a win today, the Bruins can help put a little bit of distance between them and USC, which is currently all alone in fifth place.

Meanwhile, welcome to the home of the Trojans!

USC (which UCLA fans like to refer to as the University of Spoiled Children) may have home court advantage, but with the Trojans struggling through the season (they split their games at the Washington schools last weekend and split home games against the Bay area schools the weekend before), a win today could give the Women of Troy a much needed confidence boost before hosting the Oregon schools next weekend.

USC also has two players leading the team with double figures with juniors Nadia Parker and Camille LeNoir. Yet it is the emergence of one of the newbies on the team -- sophomore Heather Oliver with a team third-best 8.1 ppg -- that is making teams take notice of where she is at when on the floor.

While bragging rights are one thing to be earned in today's game, Lexus Gauntlet points are another. The winner of today's game will earn five points for their school in the year-long competition, but it's UCLA who is looking to narrow the gap in the 39-31 lead that USC has in the all time series. USC currently leads the 2007-08 Gauntlet competition with 22.5 points to UCLA's 12.5.

This match-up is so special not just because it's a rivalry game and USC having five straight wins over UCLA, but since six of the past seven games between these two schools have been decided by four or fewer points this is so much more than your average Pac-10 game taking place in a just over an hour.

On paper UCLA may have the edge in today's game, but whenever it's rivalry time in LA anything can and will happen.

Stay tuned, the challenge is about to begin...

January 06, 2008

An LA Story

The last time Stanford lost back-to-back Pac-10 games while in LA was in the 1993-94 season. History repeated itself this weekend as a new LA story was written thanks to a 73-72 win by USC.

"It’s such a big win, part of the reason is because I have so much respect for (Stanford coach) Tara VanDerveer as she is an awesome coach," said USC coach Mark Trakh who has never beaten a Stanford team in his 15 years of coaching at the Division I level. "I think this is why this means so much. Stanford is the benchmark for all of us. We are all reaching to be like Stanford."

Helping to make this LA story so exciting was the game-winning bucket by junior guard Camille LeNoir with eight seconds left and then fifth-year senior Allison Jaskowiak-Kennedy stopping a last-second shot by Stanford's senior Candice Wiggins. After the final buzzer sounded, it was an emotional scene on the court.

"I wasn't thinking of anything as the play was supposed to go to (junior) Nadia Parker, but she wasn't open so we set another pick-n-roll screen," described LeNoir. "I just let it go and it went in. I've never jumped this high in my life with my two bad hips."

From the USC team celebrating one of the biggest upsets of the year and Stanford suffering its first back-to-back conference loss on the road since the 2003-04 season when they lost at the Arizona schools, history was made in the Galen Center today.

"I thought we did a much better job this afternoon than Friday night against UCLA," said VanDerveer. "Credit USC, they made big plays when they needed to. We did not do a good job from the three-point line or the free-throw line. We did a great job rebounding (38) and took care of the ball. We played hard enough to win, but had some defensive breakdowns that hurt us and I thought they made a lot of big shots."

Helping USC hold on and win today was their ability to never let Stanford get too far ahead or make too much of a run during the game. The most Stanford led at any point in the game was five points and each time USC came through with clutch shots to keep it close.

"Both teams were scoring on each other and it was a matter of who was going to have the ball last," said Trakh. "(Sophomore) Jayne Appel was a monster down there and really had no answer for her or (freshman) Kayla Pedersen. This is big for us as if we want any NCAA [Tournament] consideration at the end of the year, we needed to win."

Unlike the last time USC and Stanford met during the Pac-10 women's tournament last March when Wiggins had a career and conference tournament record-breaking night by hitting eight three-point shots, it was the Women of Troy who were deadly from three-point land. USC hit 57.9% of their three-point shots while Stanford struggled from outside the arch by shooting 15%. In addition, USC also edged Stanford out at the free-throw line by
connecting on 57.1% of their shots as opposed to Stanford's 55% shooting from the line.

The big shot at the end by LeNoir capped off her team-leading 21 points for the night. Meanwhile sophomore Heather Oliver chipped-in with 13 points of her own and Parker rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12. USC's bench contributed with a total of 12 points.

"Obviously everybody wearing cardinal and gold is happy tonight," said Trakh.

Meanwhile for Stanford it was Appel who paced the Cardinal with 22 points and 11 boards. Wiggins finished with 17 points while Pac-10 Freshman of the Year candidate Pedersen finished with 14 points of her own. Stanford's bench only accounted for five points, all by sophomore Rosalyn Gold-Onwude.

USC will travel to the Washington schools next weekend with their current 9-6 and 2-2 Pac-10 records while Stanford gets to stay home to host the Oregon schools with their new 12-3 and 2-2 Pac-10 records.

That's it from LA where history was made all over town this weekend.

And the winner is...

USC 73-72...

OH MY...

Stay tuned...post-game report to come...

Alli J is in da house!

This game is far from over thanks to a nice three-pointer just hit by USC's Allison Jaskowiak-Kennedy.

Stanford is only ahead by two, but there's 1:31 left and the Trojans are heating things up.

It's 71-69 so it's far from being over.

Stay tuned...

Nothing against nothing

There's seven minutes left here and Stanford is up by one, 56-55.

Neither team is playing with a lot of confidence today and it is showing. From half-hearted and rushed shots to poor shooting percentages (neither team is shooting better than 50%). It's as if the gloom from outside has come inside to the Galen Center.

If I could sneak down to each bench and pass out some chocolate to give each team some energy I would as each team needs a shot of something to get something going before the final buzzer.

Stay tuned, something exciting has to happen here soon...

It's wacky out here in the west...

So who would've thought that UCLA would beat Stanford on Friday night and then take Cal to overtime and lose in the final minute on Sunday?

Meanwhile here at the Galen Center USC is now up 48-43 in the second half and this could be another legendary game in the making.

Stay tuned...

Wow, wow, wow...

It's halftime and we are all tied up here at the Galen Center.

USC's LeNoir is leading the Trojans with 13 points and Appel is leading Stanford with 10...

It's 32 all and time for a break.

Be back soon.

Upsetting news

Just heard that UCLA and Cal are in overtime over at Pauley Pavilion. If the Bruins can pull off a second upset of the weekend here in LA, the Pac-10 needs to start a coach of the week honors with Kathy Olivier as the first.

Meanwhile Stanford is now on top 24-21 here with seven minutes to play. Still lots of time, but if Wiggins gets hot with her shot this game will be uglier than LA traffic during Storm Watch 2008 (hint: us Angelenos can't drive in the rain very well because we don't see rain enough to know how to drive in it).

Who's in control?

It's six minutes into the game here at the Galen Center and neither team seems ready to take control of the game.

USC has a slight edge on Stanford with their 43% shooting from the field (Stanford is shooting a mere 38%), but with the score tied at 8, this could be a lot closer than expected.

Stay tuned...

I Love LA

We've still got a good 20+ minutes to go but with the curtains open on the north side of the Galen Center, it's a surreal feeling here today. With the curtains open one can see the downtown LA skyline up against a grey sky background and palm trees in the foreground. It's rare to have the curtains open during a game here, but pretty stunning none-the-less.

Just another reason why LA rocks.

Forecast: Good Game

It's overcast and dreary outside of the Galen Center on USC's campus today, but with tip-off between visiting Stanford (12-2, 2-1 Pac-10) and home team USC (8-6, 1-2 Pac-10) coming up, things are about to look a lot brighter in this part of town.

Stanford is coming off one of the most shocking losses of the year in women's college basketball. After getting handed their first conference loss at USC's cross-town rival UCLA on Friday night, it is still TBD whether or not the entire Cardinal team has found their mojo (energy) on the court during their day off. Players that should have a big game this afternoon for Stanford include CSTV.com Wade Watch Candidate Candice Wiggins who had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Jayne Appel with 17 points and eight rebounds against UCLA.

Meanwhile home team USC is getting ready to face their third consecutive ranked opponent this afternoon. The Trojans are on a two-game losing streak after falling to No. 10 Cal on Friday night 57-52, and No. 24 Arizona State 66-63 last weekend when conference play started, so a win against Stanford would help take some of the sting off these recent losses. Players to watch on this Trojan team that has been plagued with injury problems for too many years now include Nadia Parker (11.8 ppg), Camille LeNoir (10.4 ppg) and Morghan Medlock (8.4 ppg).

Stay tuned, we're waiting out the warm-ups...