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Women of Troy Win Final Two Regular Season Games

Shotgun Spratling |
March 3, 2011 | 9:52 p.m. PST

Associate Sports Editor

Jacki Gemelos drives to the basket in the first half against Washington. (Shotgun Spratling)
Jacki Gemelos drives to the basket in the first half against Washington. (Shotgun Spratling)

USC's Jacki Gemelos just saw an opening.

"I just felt confident and shot the ball."

She definitely shot it -- and from deep.

Gemelos used a screen and went to her right, stopping to fire a 3-pointer 27 feet from the basket -- more than three feet beyond the NBA 3-point line and more than seven feet past the women's NCAA 3-point line.

The ball hung in the air before quietly swishing through the net without ever touching the rim.

The Galen Center crowd erupted as the Trojan basket tied Washington 53-53 with 14 seconds remaining in the Sunday afternoon contest.

"That's exactly how I drew it up," USC coach Michael Cooper joked after the game. 

The game went into overtime where USC (18-11, 10-8) outscored Washington (11-16, 6-12) 12 points to eight to take the victory in the final regular season game of the season.

Gemelos' dramatic bucket could end up being the shot that saves USC's season and chance for an NCAA at-large bid.


By the Numbers

  • Cynthia Cooper-Dyke had her No. 44 retired by USC on Sunday. (Shotgun Spratling)
    Cynthia Cooper-Dyke had her No. 44 retired by USC on Sunday. (Shotgun Spratling)
    - Cynthia Cooper was honored during halftime of Sunday's game as her No. 44 jersey was retired. She becomes the third USC women's basketball player to have her number retired (along with Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie).
  • 46 to 46 - In Thursday night's win, USC shot as many free throws as they did field goals against Washington State, setting a season high for free throw attempts. The Women of Troy shot a whopping 30 free throws in the second half -- just five shy of their previous high in an entire game this season.
  • +19 - USC outrebounded Washington State 41-22 on Thursday night. The Trojans are now 12-0 when they pull down more boards than the opposition.
  • 2 - USC's two seniors, Kari LaPlante and Michelle Franco, were honored before Sunday's game for their dedication to the program the last four years.
  • 16-3 - The Women of Troy took a 15-point lead in the second half Sunday afternoon, but Washington immediately got back in the game with a 16-3 run. Marjorie Heard had eight points and Kristi Kingma added a pair of 3-pointers during the stretch.
  • 18 - Michelle Franco played three minutes in the first half of Thursday's win over Washington State. She then started and played 15 minutes on Senior Day. Franco had only played 12 minutes total in four games this season and only played once in 2011 (two minutes at Oregon).
  • 11-1 - USC is now 11-1 this season when four players score in double figures as happened in both games this weekend.
  • - Briana Gilbreath recorded her seventh double-double of the season with a 12-point, 10-rebound performance Sunday. She was four assists shy of a triple-double.
  • 119 - With three blocks this weekend, Gilbreath tied Pam McGee, who happened to be in attendance Sunday, for seventh place on the USC career blocks list.
  • 33.3 - The Women of Troy had their second worst shooting performance in a win, Sunday against Washington. They shot only 33.3 percent. Their worst shooting performance in a win this season was against none other than Washington when the Trojans beat the Huskies 60-51 in Seattle despite shooting only 28.4 percent.

Top Player: Jacki Gemelos.

Her game-tying 3-pointer against Washington with 14 seconds left may have kept the Trojans' NCAA dreams alive for another day, but it wasn't the only thing Gemelos did for the Trojans. She also was clutch in overtime where she led the team with four points.

"We have a lot of confidence in Jacki to score and she's probably one of our best three-point shooters," coach Michael Cooper said.

For the weekend, Gemelos finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds. On Thursday, she was only one rebound shy of her first career double-double.

Unsung Hero: Briana Gilbreath.

Briana Gilbreath shoots a shot over a Washington defender. (Shotgun Spratling)
Briana Gilbreath shoots a shot over a Washington defender. (Shotgun Spratling)
Shots aren't going to fall every game, but even when Gilbreath's shots aren't falling, she still manages to impact the game. Gilbreath was a combined 6-for-28 against Washington and Washington State.

But in Thursday's win, she still managed to lead the team with 19 points by getting to the free throw line 16 times. Sunday she notched a double-double against the Huskies. She also had a combined 10 assists in the two games.

"My shot wasn't falling," Gilbreath said. "I tried to do other things. There's always other things to do on the court besides scoring."

As always, Gilbreath was stellar on defense. She recorded a block and three steals against the Cougars and a pair of blocks and a steal against Washington, including a huge block in the final 20 seconds of overtime on 6-foot-3 Regina Rogers.

"Step It Up:" Ashley Corral.

Down the stretch Sunday afternoon, the Women of Troy needed their veteran leader, but instead Corral was sitting on the bench in a t-shirt rather than in uniform. When the Trojans needed her most, the junior guard wasn't there.

Corral let her teammates down when she violated team rules and earned a two-game suspension. 

"Ashley's a big part of what we want to accomplish offensively," coach Michael Cooper said. "Her not being there hurt us a little bit."

Not only did she miss Senior Day but she also will miss the first round of the Pac-10 tournament against Washington State on Wednesday. If USC loses and subsequently misses the NCAA tournament, Corral's actions will be one of the culprits.

Where They Stand:

The Women of Troy finish tied for fourth place in the Pac-10 standings. Because of a tiebreaker, they were given the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament and will play Washington State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Galen Center, where the first two rounds of the women's Pac-10 tournament will be held.

USC is still scrapping for its tournament life.
USC is still scrapping for its tournament life.
Last week, ESPN's Charlie Creme had USC as the first team out of the NCAA tournament. Two ugly wins over Washington and Washington State aren't great resume boosters. The Trojans could slide in if a couple of other bubble teams lose, but the best bet for the Women of Troy is to win games in the Pac-10 tournament.

However, USC could conceivably defeat Washington State on Wednesday and then the winner of the Arizona/Oregon matchup and still not make the tournament. If the Trojans were to win both of those games and then lose to Stanford, the No. 2 team in the nation, USC would have the same record it compiled last season (20-12), which wasn't enough to get them into the NCAA tournament.

The best bet would be for USC to win three games. That would mean beating a team they struggled with this week (Washington State), either a team they lost to last week (Arizona) or a team they've struggled with twice this season (Oregon), and then upsetting Stanford, who the Trojans have beat only once since the 2003-04 season.

"We know what we have to do from here on out," Gemelos said. "We need two wins in the Pac-10 [tournament]. And when we get that third game against Stanford, we're going to compete against them and beat them as well."

To reach Shotgun Spratling, click here, or follow him on Twitter @BlueWorkhorse.

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