The calendar year may have changed, but the Women of Troy (10-3, 2-0) continued their stellar play with a 60-51 victory over the Washington Huskies (5-6, 0-2), giving them their best start since the 1993-94 season.It was a tough win against a talented team,” junior Briana Gilbreath said. “We didn’t do all the things we expected ourselves to do, but we pulled it out.”Gilbreath led USC in scoring as she recorded 13 points and pulled down six rebounds.Similar to the last game against Washington State, USC fell behind early in the opening minutes.But about midway through the first half, the Women of Troy used a 14-4 run that saw five different players score to seize a nine-point lead at 24-15.Though USC shot just over 32 percent from the field in the first half, they used a stingy defense to force nine Washington turnovers, and managed to go into halftime leading 30-24.The second half would be no different as the Women of Troy still struggled to put the ball in the basket.An early 6-0 Washington run in the opening minutes of the second half even cut the USC lead to a single basket at 32-30, and midway through the half, the Huskies clawed to within a single point.But each time they threatened to take the lead, the Women of Troy responded right back.“We forced some turnovers at some crucial times and that’s what changed the game around,” Gilbreath said, who finished with three steals and three blocked shots.The Huskies would get no closer than a single point as the Women of Troy managed to hold on down the stretch for their fourth consecutive road victory and sixth consecutive victory overall.Despite shooting a shade over 28 percent from the field overall, USC hounded Washington’s do-everything guard Kristi Kingma into a 6-for-19 shooting night, forced a total of 15 turnovers and outrebounded the Huskies 52-40.“Our rebounding and hustle on defense helped us win this game,” sophomore forward Christina Marinacci said. “I think that was the [key] for us.”Marinacci came off the bench and scored six points, while also grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.Redshirt senior guard Jacki Gemelos chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists, and freshman forward Cassie Harberts just barely missed her second consecutive double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.“I think we’re starting to come together and the freshmen are learning,” Gilbreath said. “We’re all starting to gel now and I think that’s what’s helping us now.”The Women of Troy now head home before taking on crosstown rival UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood on Saturday, Jan. 8th.Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 pm.
Christopher Katongo has won the 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.The 30-year-old Zambia captain beat off competition from Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure to become the first winner from southern Africa in the history of the award.Katongo told BBC Sport: “This is a fantastic moment for me. I thank the people who voted for me. It is something I will never forget in my career.“This means a lot for the young people and the young players who look up to me. I could not have achieved this without the support of my team-mates.”The shortlist for the award was drawn up by football experts from every country in Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.And a record number of people nominated their favourite online or by text message with just over 40% of the votes going to Katongo, who plays his club football in China for Henan Construction. While all the players on the shortlist have enjoyed a superb year, with four of the players picking up silverware, it is Katongo whose performances and achievements have been considered by African football fans to be the greatest.Katongo, who is also a soldier in his home country, was inspirational as he led Zambia to their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February.He scored three goals en route to the final of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and then struck a successful penalty in an 8-7 shoot-out victory over favourites Ivory Coast to lift the trophy in Libreville.It was an emotional moment for Zambia, who had suffered a tragic air disaster 19 years previously, when a plane carrying most of the national team crashed when only 500m offshore from Libreville, killing all 25 passengers and five crew.Seven months after leading Zambia to glory Katongo was again his country’s talisman, this time in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifying tie when he scored the only goal of the game in his side’s final-round first leg match against Uganda. And it proved to be a vital strike as Chipolopolo lost the return leg 1-0 but made it through to next year’s tournament in South Africa by winning 9-8 in another penalty shoot-out.In between those Nations Cup heroics, Katongo also provided the spark that lifted Zambia out of a difficult phase in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.