It was a bittersweet end to a fine career for UCLA senior Anne Dean. In the end, after USC trounced UCLA, 89-57, Thursday night in front of 3,822 fans at Pauley Pavilion, Dean was left with thoughts of happier times.
There have been brighter times than Thursday night. Dean managed to score only four points in her final college game.
"This was my worst-scoring game of the season," Dean said. She led the Bruins all season with a 14.7-point average. "I'm not very proud of that. I have been with UCLA when we have played a lot of big games. I think I prefer to remember the ones we played well."
Dean has been rock steady in her four years. This season, she has given the Bruins much-needed help as an outside shooter. Dean, from Santa Ana, has also been a three-time Academic All-American nominee and is a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
That Dean is the only senior on the UCLA team may give insight to the struggles of the Bruins (12-16 overall, 3-5 in the Pac West) this season. The fifth-ranked Trojans (27-4, 8-0) continue into postseason play with their second-best regular-season record. USC, with the victory, became the Pac West champion.
It was a night of memories for another senior, USC's Cheryl Miller. Her thoughts were sent back to Feb. 1, the last time the teams met. It was in that game that Miller sustained a concussion and a neck injury.
Miller saw the game films for the first time yesterday.
"Now I know what happened," Miller said. "When I watched it again, and I hit the floor, I said, 'Oh no!' It hurt again. I had a few flashbacks."
Miller wasn't hampered by history, apparently, as she collected 29 points and 15 rebounds.
Neither team was able to establish any tempo. That was partially because the players were stopping and starting so much because of turnovers. There were 26 turnovers in the first half, 18 by UCLA.
"The tempo was strange," USC Coach Linda Sharp said. "It was way too fast. We made a lot of mistakes. How they had us with only eight turnovers in the first half, I don't know."
The Bruins continued to lose control of the ball and committed a season-high 29 turnovers. It was not a statistic that pleased UCLA Coach Billie Moore.
"I asked the kids at halftime if they could pass and catch," Moore said. "They said they could. That's a skill you learn in third grade. It was a mental letdown."
UCLA was able to retain enough control to manage a 3-0 lead after more than three minutes of play.
USC woke its dormant fast break and suddenly moved ahead, 13-7, with 13:55 left in the first half. The Bruins were hurt by their dismal 35% shooting and 25% effort from the free-throw line in the half.
Miller had 17 points in the first half, and Cherie Nelson had 11 to help the Trojans take a 49-23 halftime lead.
The bright spot for the Bruins in the second half was the shooting of guard Jaime Brown, who scored 20 points.
"I was open, and you can't pass up a shot when you're open," Brown said. "I was surprised they had Cheryl (Miller) on me in the first half. I just took the shots."