USC returns home hoping to end streak

Maybe some home cooking will do the Women of Troy good.

After games on the road up north at California and Stanford and a trip to Westwood against their crosstown rival, the Women of Troy return home to the Galen Center for two games.

Tough stretch · Sophomore guard Briana Gilbreath was below her season average 13.4 points per game during the four-game losing streak. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

Wating for the Women of Troy at home are two visiting squads which could afford USC a chance to get back to its winning ways.

“It’ll be good to get our feet back under us,” said sophomore guard Ashley Corral. “Washington State and Washington are two very beatable teams, so we’re just going to have to come out and play hard.”

Next on tap for the Women of Troy (13-10, 7-5) are the Washington State Cougars (6-18, 1-12), who occupy last place in the Pac-10 conference.

Despite the Cougars’ record, the Women of Troy know they cannot overlook any opponent with their recent stretch of play.

“All the things that we haven’t been doing in the past have finally caught up to us,” Corral said. “Those are all things we can change and fix, but we just need to go out and do it.”

One specific thing the Women of Troy can fix is their effort on the defensive glass. They rank last in the Pac-10 in rebound margin, allowing their opponents to outrebound them by six boards per game.

“Rebounding has been our Achilles’ heel all season,” USC coach Michael Cooper said.  “Rebounding is just heart and desire and who wants it more, and other teams seem to want it more than us, but we got to find some people who want to do it.”

In the first meeting between the USC and Washington State, the Women of Troy managed to pull out a come-from-behind victory with a strong second half.

Playing hard, however, from the opening tip-off is one thing the coaching staff has continually been stressing to the team.

“[Coach Cooper] always stresses to play hard. We always have a tendency not to come out strong in the first half, but I think we need to come out strong at home and play hard the whole game to put [the Cougars] away early,” Corral said.

One player who can give the Women of Troy a boost is redshirt junior guard Jacki Gemelos, who was heralded as the top recruit in the nation upon entering USC.

After suffering numerous knee injuries the past three years, Gemelos has provided the Women of Troy with solid play off the bench in their three games. She will be making her season debut at the Galen Center against the Cougars.

“I’ve been waiting to play here so it’ll be nice to finally play in front of the USC crowd,” Gemelos said.  “It’s going to be exciting.”

With the Women of Troy returning home and Gemelos finally healthy, the team hopes to get back on the winning track.

“I think we’re all mad and we’re ready to take it out on our next opponent, and I think we’ll respond in a very positive way,” Gemelos said.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.