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WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Stanford women beat USC in Pac-10 final

The Trojans keep it relatively close for the first half, then the Cardinal pulls away for an 89-64 victory in the Pac-10 women's basketball tournament final.

March 16, 2009|Gary Klein

Several members of USC's men's basketball team sat behind the bench at the Galen Center, their improbable run to a conference tournament title and an NCAA berth a source of inspiration.

The USC women's team had designs on a similar scenario.

But Stanford would have none of it.

The second-ranked Cardinal let USC hang around for part of the first half Sunday, then imposed its size and its will on the Trojans en route to an 89-64 victory in the Pacific 10 Conference tournament championship game.

It was the third consecutive tournament title for Stanford, which improved its record to 29-4 and is regarded as a strong contender for a No. 1 seeding when the NCAA tournament bracket is announced today.

"They beat us in every facet of the game," USC Coach Mark Trakh said. "They're just so big and skilled inside."

Sophomore forward Kayla Pedersen, the tournament's most outstanding player, scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Cardinal. But Pedersen's was one of only several outstanding Cardinal performances.

Guard Jillian Harmon, a 6-foot-1 senior, stifled USC's 5-6 point guard, Camille LeNoir, cutting off her drives to the basket and allowing teammates to lock down on three-point threats Brynn Cameron and Heather Oliver.

LeNoir, who had torched Arizona State and California in the quarterfinals and semifinals, scored all of her 13 points in the second half, most coming when the outcome was not in doubt.

"They were clogging the middle," LeNoir said. "It was tough for me to weave in and out of there."

Stanford center Jayne Appel played only eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. But the Pac-10's player of the year scored all 12 of her points in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Cardinal extended a 33-24 lead at the break to 24 points.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer then began to clear the bench as the Cardinal wrapped up its sixth tournament title in eight years. Appel played only 18 minutes.

"It's good to know that we don't have to totally depend on Jayne," VanDerveer said.

Center Kari LaPlante scored 12 points for USC (17-15), which was ravaged by injuries before and during the season and is expected to miss the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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