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COLLEGE BASKETBALL 1998-99 | USC WOMEN

Mashia's Return Raises Hopes

November 19, 1998|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the unlikely event that the USC women's basketball team wins the Pacific 10 championship this season--and no one is predicting that--it will be considered the Trojans' second miracle of 1998-99.

The first occurred in September, when doctors cleared guard Erica Mashia to play again.

Two seasons ago, in January 1996, Mashia (pronounced ma-SHAY) took a tumble in a game against UCLA, several other players falling on top of her.

In a sense, only recently did Mashia get back on her feet.

Oh, she has been walking around, at times, with a limp, but the pain in her right hip lingered and she spent months on crutches.

"I got kneed that night by someone, right on the hip," she recalled.

"Then the way people fell on top of me, it hurt even more. It hurt right away, but I just thought it was a hip pointer."

It was a lot more than that. After a year of unsuccessful therapy, doctors told her to forget about basketball. X-ray and MRI images were inconclusive. A Bo Jackson-type injury, it looked like.

But a hole revealed by X-rays in her hip socket gradually "filled in," and surgery to remove cartilage debris put Mashia back in uniform.

So optimism reigns at USC, where Coach Chris Gobrecht tries to improve on last season's 12-15 record (7-11 in the Pac-10).

Most optimistic is Kristin Clark, a talented, quick senior point guard who finished last season in shades of black and blue.

"I got knocked around pretty good last year, but now Erica will help me a lot," she said.

"Defenses will have to play us honest now. Erica can really hurt teams that overplay me."

The 5-foot-7 Mashia was an All-Pac-10 freshman team player in 1995-96, averaging 11.8 points and a team-leading 3.2 assists. She was also one of the nation's best free-throw shooters, at 84.4%, and led the conference in three-point shooting at 44%.

Also back are two other starters, juniors Tiffany Washington and sophomore Tashara Carter.

Kim Clark, twin sister of Kristin, broke her leg in an October soccer game and will be sidelined this season. And another guard, Kiyoko Miller, underwent shoulder surgery and may miss the season.

USC begins Pac-10 play Jan. 2 at Arizona State. The school also is host to the NCAA West Regional tournament at the Sports Arena, March 20-22.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

USC WOMEN At a Glance

SCHEDULE

Tonight: Boise State, 7:30

Sunday: at Fresno State, 5

Wednesday: Drake, 7

Dec. 5: at Long Beach State, 1

Dec. 12: CS Northridge, 7

Dec. 20: at Western Kentucky, Noon

Dec. 29: Santa Barbara, 6

Jan. 2: at Arizona State, Noon

Jan. 4: at Arizona, 7

Jan. 8: Oregon, 7

Jan. 10: Oregon State, 2

Jan. 14: at Stanford, 10 a.m.

Jan. 16: at California, 2

Jan. 23: at UCLA, 4

Jan. 28: Washington State, 7

Jan. 30: Washington, 7

Feb. 4: at Oregon State, 7

Feb. 6: at Oregon, 7

Feb. 12: California, 7

Feb. 14: Stanford, 2

Feb. 20: UCLA, 7

Feb. 25: at Washington, 7

Feb. 27: at Washington State, 1

Mar. 4: Arizona, 7

Mar. 6: Arizona State, 7

ROSTER

* Guards

Kristin Clark, 5-7, Sr.

Tiffany Elmore, 5-10, Fr.

Erica Mashia, 5-7, Jr.

Camille Norwood, 5-8, Fr.

Kiyoko Miller, 5-8, Jr.

* Forwards

Tashara Carter, 6-0, So.

Aimee Copp, 6-1, Jr.

Carmen Krause, 6-1, Fr.

Whitney Houser, 6-0, So.

Adria Sneed, 6-1, Sr.

Tiffany Washington, 6-2, Jr.

* Centers

Adrain Williams, 6-4, Sr.

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