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SOUTHLAND WOMEN

Murphy Helps Trojans Upset No. 9 Sun Devils

January 07, 2006|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

The USC women's basketball team has had its chances this season to knock off a highly ranked opponent, only to fall short.

On Friday, the Trojans were able to close the deal, upsetting No. 9 Arizona State, 58-50, at the Lyon Center. It was the Trojans' first victory over a top-10 team since beating sixth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 24, 2004.

USC, 9-5 and 3-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference, was led by Eshaya Murphy (22 points) and employed a swarming defense that forced 23 turnovers to snap the Sun Devils' nine-game winning streak and hand them their first conference loss.

Arizona State (12-2, 3-1), which led, 29-27, at halftime, made only seven of 26 second-half shots and made only one field goal in the game's final 9 minutes 26 seconds. The Sun Devils' last seven points came on free throws, and USC finished them off with a 12-2 run in the final four minutes.

"Our kids not only played hard, they executed very well down the stretch," Trojan Coach Mark Trakh said. "[Arizona State is] a heck of a team. They dominated Vanderbilt and New Mexico. Obviously, this is a big win for us."

Murphy didn't do it by herself. Camille LeNoir scored 13 points for USC, including an 18-foot shot with 2:57 left that put the Trojans ahead for good, at 50-48. USC center Chloe Kerr had seven points and a game-high eight rebounds.

But Murphy continued to be the Trojans' most consistent scoring threat. It was the third time this season she has scored 22 points, each time matching her career high. All three times have resulted in USC victories.

"Tonight it felt real good to be [back] at home," Murphy said. "We were all on the same page. This is such a great win for us, the kind of win that can give us our confidence back. It puts us right back in the running for the Pac-10 race."

Kristen Kovesdy led Arizona State with 11 points and was the only Sun Devil in double figures. But she was caught up in the same cold spell as the rest of her team; she scored only one point in the second half.

Coach Charli Turner Thorne could accept the Sun Devils' scoring their fewest points this season. But it was difficult for her to watch the endless flow of turnovers, in part because she had a premonition it might happen.

"I believe you play how you practice," Thorne said. "We'd had a good week of practice until yesterday. And yesterday we were throwing the ball away just like we did tonight."

UCLA 84, Arizona 77 -- The Bruins (8-6, 3-2) forced 22 turnovers by the Wildcats (5-8, 1-4) in the victory at Pauley Pavilion. Noelle Quinn scored 13 of her team-high 18 points in the first half as UCLA led, 41-31, at halftime.

The Bruins also got 15 points from freshman center Chinyere Ibekwe.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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