So while the firing of Kevin O’Neill has sent the USC blogs into a tornado of speculation, a lot of stuff was happening around USC Athletics over the weekend, including swim meets, the start of the men’s volleyball season, a long awaited road win, and a hot streak for Cooper’s gals.
Men’s Basketball: Well, the KO era has ended with a split road trip to the expansion schools. On Thursday, the Trojans lost to Colorado 66-60 in a game that was not as close as its score suggests. The Trojans came out firing, making eight of their first eleven shots. So what happened? Turnovers. A season-high twenty-two of them, which allowed Colorado to go on a 31-9 run to end the first half and take a 15 point lead that would bend but not break. But the Trojans turned things around beautifully against Utah with a 76-59 victory. Everything finally clicked for the Trojans, with 50% FG shooting, six players scoring in the double digits, and more rebounds and second chance points.
But the big star of the weekend was Dewayne Dedmon, who had his two most successful games of his college career. Over the road stretch, he made six blocks and 22 rebounds, and against Utah, he earned a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebs. In addition, Dedmon has stayed out of foul trouble recently, averaging less than two fouls in the last five games. Bob Cantu said at today’s press conference that one of his main plans as interim coach is to use their team’s size more often and get the ball more to Dedmon and Omar Oraby. As the team attempts to move on from KO and work their way back into the Pac-12 race, they will need Dedmon to maintain his improved play. Next up on the schedule are home games against the Ducks and Beavers.
Women’s Basketball: On the ladies’ side, the Women of Troy have kept their conference hot streak going with victories against the Huskies and Cougars. Like the men’s team, they put forth their best performance of the season this past weekend with a 81-72 win against Washington. It was SC’s highest scoring game in almost a year, with four players scoring in the double digits. But once again, it was Cassie Harberts that topped the totals with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Kate Oliver also registered a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. USC outperformed Washington in every major category, including FG% (40-34), FT% (81-67), rebounds (53-38), and assists (22-8). Ariya Crook also had a big game, making a career-best six three-pointers.
But Crook had an even bigger game against Washington State, which forced USC to fight down to the final seconds. With 4:30 left to play, USC had a six-point lead, but WSU went on a 7-0 run to take back the lead going into the final minute. After drawing a foul, Crook went to the line and drained both free throws, and a defensive board by Harberts led to a USC possession with two Cougars fouls and two out of four SC free throws made. With the final seconds ticking down, Washington State needed a three to tie the game, and they got it from their freshman guard Lia Galdiera with four seconds to go. But on the final inbounds, Crook was fouled while charging towards the net, and with 0.8 seconds left, she drained both of her free throws to win the game. Crook finished the game with 14 points, eight of them from the line and six from behind the arch, while Harberts earned another double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds
Washington State Highlights (via USCAthletics)
The Women of Troy are now 4-0 in conference play for the first time in eight years, and are tied with UCLA for first place. They have shown significant improvement in the past two weeks, but this weekend they will face their toughest test yet as they travel up to the Bay Area to face Cal and Stanford, who are both ranked in the top-10 and have a combined record of 27-4. Both games will air on the Pac-12 network.
Men’s Volleyball: After getting swept last year by UC Irvine in the national championship game at the Galen Center, the Trojans began the 2013 campaign with a very strange start. On Thursday, they lost their season opener to #14 UCSD, as they were swept 25-22, 25-22, 25-20. USC was held to a .112 hitting average and 27 total kills. It was USC’s first loss to the Tritons since 2009.
But two days later, in a rematch against UCI, the Trojans pulled off a sweep of their own, winning 25-21, 25-23, 27-25. Sophomore middle Robert Feathers put up a spectacular performance, landing 12 kills and six blocks to lead the Trojans in both categories, and the team improved its hitting average to .281. Feathers was named the AVCA National Player of the Week today for his efforts.
USC is now ranked #7 in the nation and will face Stanford on Friday and Pacific on Sunday at Galen. The Stanford game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Swimming & Diving: Finally, we have the top 5 swim teams, which defeated Wisconsin over the weekend in a dual meet by a score of 144.5-109.5, improving the #1 women’s team’s record to 8-0 and the #5 men’s team’s record to 5-0. Meanwhile, in Westwood, the divers took part in the annual Bruin Diving Invitational, where sophomore transfer Haley Ishimatsu came in first place in the platform and three-meter competitions. Haley is the sister of recent grad Victoria Ishimatsu, who became an NCAA champion diver in the one-meter last year. The men will compete next at the SMU Classic next week, while the women’s team will prepare for major head-to-head meets against #4 Cal and #7 Stanford in the first weekend of February.
The opportunity to ignite the Galen Center has arrived. Let’s hope Haden can make the most of it.