Women of Troy open return to Tourney with win

Updated: March 19, 2005, 2:46 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Southern California is trying to re-establish itself as a perennial women's basketball power, and this was a decent start.

Playing in their first NCAA tournament in eight years, the eighth-seeded Women of Troy showed off their balance, depth and quickness on Saturday in a 65-49 victory over ninth-seeded Louisville in the first round of the Kansas City Regional.

Chloe Kerr scored 14 points, Camille LeNoir contributed 13, Kim Gipson added 12 and Jamie Funn had 10 for Southern Cal (20-10), which reached 20 wins for the first time since 1997 -- the last time they won a tournament game.

The Trojans move to the second round and will face either top-seeded Michigan State or No. 16 seed Alcorn State on Monday.

Louisville's first tournament appearance in four years ended quickly. Sophomore center Jazz Covington, who averaged nearly 18 points per game, had a frustrating afternoon and finished with 13 points after some late layups once the game was out of reach.

Missy Taylor scored 11 points and Connie Neal made three 3-pointers for the Cardinals (22-9), who were outrebounded 45-32 and shot 34.6 percent (18-for-52) from the floor.

After winning two national titles, in 1983 and 1984 with Cheryl Miller, and reaching the final eight in 1994 with Lisa Leslie, USC hasn't been the same. But first-year coach Mark Trakh, after arriving from Pepperdine, put up a sign in the gym that read, "Bring it back." With two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup, the program looks like it's on the right track.

Eight different players led Southern Cal in scoring this season, and seven of them averaged 6.9 points or more per game. Rachel Woodward, one of USC's two seniors, sank back-to-back jumpers during an 8-0 run that put the Trojans in front, 24-20 with 2½ minutes left before halftime.

Then Southern Cal ran away with it in the second half. Kerr's turnaround in the lane made it 53-31 and capped an 18-0 spurt, a scoring drought that the Cardinals didn't end for 7½ minutes.

The Trojans consistently anticipated crosscourt passes on defense and came up with 12 steals. Had they shot from long range like they normally do, it would've been much more of a rout.

USC, whose 186 3-pointers (more than six per game) this season is a school record, went just 3-for-18 from beyond the arc.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press