Taking a look at the Gilbreath-Corral legacy


Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Cynthia Cooper, Paula and Pam McGee.

Those names put USC women’s basketball on the map, and back in the 1980s, you could synonymously link the program to major success: back-to-back NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984, five Pac-10 conference titles and four appearances in the Final Four. All six players hold several records in USC history, too.

Fast-forward to the late-2000s when then-USC coach Mark Trakh recruited two All-Americans — one out of Washington and one out of Texas — in hopes of bringing the same level of success the program achieved during the ’80s.

Those two All-Americans would be seniors Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath.

Four years later, Corral and Gilbreath have etched their names alongside some of USC’s all-time greats in the record books. Gilbreath currently ranks 10th all-time in scoring, eighth in rebounds, sixth in steals and fourth in blocked shots. Corral, meanwhile, is USC’s all-time 3-point leader and ranks fourth in assists.

The stats say enough about what these two players have accomplished so far during their time at USC, and donning the cardinal and gold carries a special feeling for both players.

“It has meant so much to me to play here and put on a USC jersey,” Gilbreath said. “All the history that we’ve had, being able to leave my mark and being able to be involved in a family such as USC has been an amazing journey.”

Likewise, Corral echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s meant a lot to me,” Corral said. “I’ve created memories on and off the court with people that’ll probably be my friends for the rest of my life. Being a part of the Trojan Family is something I’ll never be away from.”

But even greater than what it has meant to play for the university is the bond that these two share. Backcourt mates for all four years at USC, the two have forged a lifelong friendship beyond the court.

“It’s been amazing,” Gilbreath said of playing with Corral. “She’s been like a sister to me. We just have that connection and that bond that cannot be replaced by anyone or anything. It’s been amazing to have somebody to go through the experiences that I’m going through. We’ve shared so many accolades and so many accomplishments together. We always have each other’s back no matter what’s going on and it’s been great to play with her.”

With Senior Day on Saturday, these two faces of the USC program have certainly given fans something to cheer about. Despite missing out on the NCAA tournament for two consecutive years — two years that the team deserved a berth — both players understand there is unfinished business at USC.

After last season’s Women’s National Invitational Title run, there were lofty expectations for this squad. Much of the team’s core group of players returned, ready to punch their first ticket to the Big Dance.

But the injury bug struck, and the injury that might have hurt the most was to senior guard Jacki Gemelos, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament for the fifth time.

Despite losing one of their leaders and top scorers from last year, the Women of Troy have carried on.

A roller coaster season, according to both players, might have tested the team early in the season, but they’re better because of it.

They currently sit in fourth place in the Pac-12 and are six wins away from the magical number of 20, which would almost guarantee a spot in the tournament.

Gilbreath and Corral will be asked to carry the team these last few games of conference play and in the Pac-12 tournament, all in hopes of clinching that tournament berth.

Whatever the case might be, whether the Women of Troy make the tournament or not, both players have surely made a lasting impression.

A career might be defined by how much you win for most people, but for these two players, their impact on the program cannot be understated and their careers have been nothing short of spectacular.

 

 

“In the Zone” runs every other Friday. If you would like to comment on this story, visit DailyTrojan.com or email Trevor at trevor.wong@usc.edu