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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

USC beats Cal to reach Pac-10 final; UCLA falls to Stanford

Trojans upset the No. 12 Golden Bears, 69-67, after waiting out officials' ruling at the finish. Bruins are no match for second-ranked Cardinal in 73-47 loss.

March 15, 2009|Gary Klein

USC and 12th-ranked California played 40 intense minutes on Saturday night at the Galen Center.

But the outcome of the Pacific 10 Conference women's basketball tournament semifinal was not decided until officials met for more than 10 minutes at midcourt to review the final three-tenths of a second.

After the officials ruled that Cal forward Ashley Walker had caught and shot the ball into the basket for the apparent score-tying points, rather than tipping it, USC was awarded a 69-67 victory and a spot in tonight's championship game against No. 2-ranked Stanford.

"We're just happy to be in the finals," said USC Coach Mark Trakh, whose team defeated 16th-ranked Arizona State in the quarterfinals Friday. "We beat two nationally ranked teams to get here and, you know what, we have nothing to lose."

USC (17-14) flirted with losing out on the opportunity by allowing the Golden Bears to erase nearly all of its 13-point second-half lead.

Walker and center Devanei Hampton led a comeback that culminated with Cal having the ball out of bounds in the front court with three-tenths of a second left.

Standing in front of the Cal bench, guard Lauren Greif passed the ball high across the lane to the right side of the basket. The 6-foot-1 Walker leaped for the ball and then banked it in, deflating USC and seemingly sending the game into overtime.

But with fans of both teams chanting, and players and coaches wearing worried looks, the three officials huddled and reviewed replays before finally disallowing the basket.

"At three-tenths of a second, you can only tip at the basket," said Bob Scofield, the game's head official. "We determined that it was gathered and that the shot was no good."

Cal Coach Joanne Boyle was upset with the ruling and said she might speak with the director of Pac-10 officials.

"I think it's so subjective what a tip is," she said.

Trakh, not surprisingly, praised the officials, citing a game last season when the Trojans lost to Oregon State on a similar ruling.

"It was the correct call at Oregon State in a loss for us and it was the correct call tonight," he said.

Senior point guard Camille LeNoir scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half for USC.

Walker scored 29 points and had 15 rebounds for Cal (25-6).

Stanford 73, UCLA 47 -- The Bruins' hopes for a title-game berth and a possible invitation to the NCAA tournament ended with the loss.

Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Stanford (28-4), which built a 39-21 halftime lead.

Nina Earl scored eight points for UCLA (19-12), which was held to its lowest point total of the season.

--

gary.klein@latimes.com

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