USC played its only exhibition game against Biola University of La Mirada(NAIA), at Galen Center last night.
USC’s starting line up included three players who didn’t start last year. Returning starters were center Kari LaPlante and point guard Ashley Corral. The new starters were returning players Christina Marinacci (soph) and Jackie Gemelos (redshirt senior). Rounding out the starters was freshman forward Cassie Harberts.
All of the starters played at least 26 minutes. Briana Gilbreath, a starter from last year, only saw 13 minutes. She did have her shoulder taped for the game and was wearing an ice pack on it while on the bench, however. From what I heard she will be ready for more minutes in Friday’s season opener vsersus Gonzaga.
Her sister Stefanie Gilbreath will also be ready. She was dressed for last night’s game but had a knee brace on during warmups and did not play.
The starters all played well. Corral and Gemelos made some good passes on fast breaks, and Gemelos played without her knee brace and drove to the basket numerous times, jumping for rebounds. Gemelos looked a lot smoother last night than during any game I saw her last year, and perhaps after waiting several years we will all see the the talent that made her shine during high school.
Marinacci played like a seasoned vet, for 32 minutes with 17 points, and no turnovers. LaPlante was strong in the paint, putting up 20 points, against 6-foot-4 opponent Christina Barclay of Biola.
Harberts fit in well, garnering 14 points in 26 minutes, and she had her hands all over the place on defense, forcing Biola players to alter shots and passes.
The surpise for USC was 5-foot-5 freshman Len’Nique Brown from San Antonio, Texas. She played 24 minutes and had 11 points, with two assists and three turnovers. Brown was not a top 100 ESPN/Hoopgurlz ranked player, but she played very well for her first game. She could be a player that will allow Corral to get rest every now and then instead of having to play 34 minutes a game.
As for the game, USC started quick, leading 10-2 and 17-6 and then allowed Biola to get off some good shots and before they knew it the game was tied at 24 with about nine minutes left in the first half. The Trojans then finished off the first half on a 20-9 run, leading 44-33 at the half. They came out quickly in the second half on a 15-7 run, and then another run of 11-4 put them up by at least 20 points for the remainder of the game.
Biola had two players that impressed me. Senior Jessilyn Conicelli had 13 points and was aggressive all night. I havent seen her or Biola before but she definetly is a player that could play at a mid-major DI team. The other player was Jennifer French – a three- point shooter who had a nice touch. I think Biola is a solid NAIA team and should give Vanguard a run for its money this year.
– IM in OC