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Trojans win fifth in row against Bruins

USC women pull away late for a 62-55 victory that deals a blow to UCLA's NCAA hopes.

February 11, 2007|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

The USC women's basketball team took another step toward a third consecutive NCAA tournament bid Saturday while dealing a potentially fatal blow to UCLA's flickering hopes of making the 64-team field.

The Trojans, 15-9 overall and 9-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference, have won five in a row over UCLA (13-13, 7-7) after a late rush carried them to a 62-55 victory in front of 9,749 in the Galen Center, a record crowd for a USC women's home game.

An audience made up predominantly of children drawn in part by USC's "A Day in Troy" promotion, which combined campus tours with other activities, squealed in delight as USC held the Bruins scoreless after UCLA forward Amanda Livingston made two free throws to tie the score at 55-55 with 3:53 to play.

"Our defense was really good the last three minutes," said USC Coach Mark Trakh, whose team won despite making only 34.4% of its shots and missing seven of its last 12 free throws. "Our pressing was effective."

Shay Murphy, whose free throw with 2:23 left put USC ahead to stay, led the Trojans with 13 points and 11 rebounds but missed 14 of 16 shots. Jamie Funn had 10 points and seven rebounds, Jamie Hagiya 10 points and five assists.

Noelle Quinn had 18 points and six rebounds for UCLA. Teammate Lindsey Pluimer had 14 points and seven rebounds and Livingston scored 10 points.

Each team will play three of its last four regular-season games against nationally ranked opponents -- Arizona State, Stanford and California. USC, which has won nine of its last 11 games overall, is 0-6 against top-25 teams.

"It's still way up in the air," Trakh said of the Trojans' chances of reaching the NCAA tournament. "We're still fighting an uphill battle."

The Bruins, meanwhile, might have to repeat as Pac-10 tournament champions to make the NCAA field for the third time in four years.

"Our backs are against the wall," Coach Kathy Oliver said.

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jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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