NCAA tournament preview: USC vs. St. John’s

Guard Aliyyah Handford (3), who prepares to take a shot, leads St. John's in scoring a 16.2 points a game.
(Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

No. 9 USC (22-12) vs. No. 8 St. John’s (22-10)

Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.

How they got here: USC won four games in four days — including a victory over Stanford — to win the Pac-12 Conference tournament. St. John’s reached the Big East tournament title game before losing to DePaul.

Last 10 games: USC 7-3, St. John’s 5-5.

USC lineup: Starters — F Cassie Harberts (15.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg), G Ariya Crook (15.8 ppg, 2.3 apg), F Alexyz Vaioletama (15.8 ppg), G Brianna Barrett (6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), G Kiki Alofaituli 4.6 ppg). Top reserves — G Jordan Adams (2.7 ppg. 3.3 rpg), G Desiree Bradley (5.3 ppg), G Courtney Jaco (3.8 ppg), F Kate Oliver (2.2 ppg).


St. John’s lineup: Starters — F Amber Thompson (7.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg), G Aliyyah Handford (16.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg), G Briana Brown ((9.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Danaejah Grant (11.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Eugeneia McPherson (7.9 ppg). Top reserves — G Aaliyah Lewis (3.0 ppg), F Jade Walker (4.4 ppg), G Keylantra Langley (6.6 ppg).

It’s a fact: USC Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke played for NCAA championship teams at USC in 1983 and 1984. In her first season, she has guided USC to its first NCAA appearance since 2006. St. John’s Coach Joe Tartamella, in his second season, led the Red Storm to its sixth consecutive NCAA tournament