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Stanford Women Rally Past USC

The Cardinal retains first place in Pac-10 with a 78-69 victory as USC learns that Cameron is out for season.

January 30, 2006|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

Before the No. 23 USC Trojans began their Pacific 10 Conference games this weekend, they had plenty of reason to smile. They had moved back into the national rankings and were alone in second place, only a game behind Stanford.

Now furrowed brows of concern are replacing those smiles.

Not only did USC suffer its second consecutive loss, falling Sunday in its last game at the Lyon Center to the No. 11 Cardinal, 78-69, the Trojans also lost another key player.

Coach Mark Trakh said sophomore guard Brynn Cameron, who has tried to play despite a hip injury, finally had to shut down her season. She will probably soon undergo the same type of hip surgery that ended junior forward Jamie Funn's season.

That left USC (13-7 overall, 7-4 Pac-10) with nine injury-free players Sunday (sophomore forward Simone Jelks is still two weeks away from returning after spraining her left knee) and that was not enough to hold off Stanford (14-5, 9-2).

Although USC -- which led, 36-30, at halftime -- had a 62-55 lead with 6:54 left, the Cardinal ran off 14 consecutive points to regain the lead, and wound up outscoring the Trojans, 23-7, over the final stretch.

"They had too many weapons," Trakh said, noting that four Stanford players finished in double figures, led by Candice Wiggins' 18 points. "We made a concentrated effort to take Candice and Brooke [Smith] away, but their other kids stepped up.

"But I was happy. We're playing short-handed. We did everything we could to stay in as long as we could."

USC, which had 16 points by Eshaya Murphy and 13 from Camille LeNoir, tried to contain Stanford's two top players. Wiggins, the Pac-10's leading scorer (21.5), got only seven shots. Smith, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, had only eight shots.

But USC could not contend with 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds from Cardinal reserve guard Jillian Harmon and 14 points from another reserve, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude. Plus, Stanford overcame a nine-point second-half deficit by shooting 70.8% over the final 20 minutes (17 of 24) and 52.9% overall. That compensated for its 19 turnovers.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer was happy to leave Los Angeles with a split.

"We knew [the weekend] was going to be a challenge," VanDerveer said. "I was disappointed how we played against UCLA, but we moved on and got ready for USC. We had to gut it out. USC played really well."

Next for the short-handed Trojans is a weekend in Arizona. Five of USC's last seven regular-season games will be on the road, with their remaining two home games at the Sports Arena. Next season USC's home will be the new Galen Center.

"It's hard to deal with getting swept at home," Murphy said, "but we're going to put our best foot forward."

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