UCLA guard Jasmine Dixon drives into the lane for a shot against USC forward… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
The crosstown rivalry might have been more compelling off the court than on it Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.
Former UCLA basketball hero Tyus Edney delivered a stirring speech to the women's team before the game. A rowdy Bruins student section taunted USC Coach Michael Cooper about his salty language directed at UCLA last season.
There wasn't nearly as much intrigue during a 61-42 UCLA rout in which the 12th-ranked Bruins outplayed their archrivals in every facet.
UCLA (13-1 overall, 3-0 Pacific 10 Conference) held the Trojans to 27.9% shooting, forced 20 turnovers and pulled down 11 more rebounds while securing the program's best start since the 1976-77 team won 18 of its first 19 games.
And a game the Bruins led by as many as 25 points would have been even more lopsided had they made more than 37.3% of their shots.
UCLA forward Jasmine Dixon scored 20 points on nine-for-11 shooting, delighting a season-best crowd of 6,675 that included the Bruins men's basketball team. It was the first time a UCLA player had scored 20 points in a game this season.
"Whatever was there, I just took it," said Dixon, who also had nine rebounds and three of the Bruins' 14 steals.
Dixon scored most of her points on layups, helping UCLA outscore USC, 30-8, in the paint and end the Trojans' six-game winning streak.
Baskets were hard to come by for USC (10-4, 2-1). Guard Briana Gilbreath missed all 12 of her shots, scoring her nine points exclusively on free throws. The Trojans went 9 minutes 43 seconds without a point during one stretch of the first half and trailed, 26-13, at halftime.
"We just didn't show up today," said USC guard Ashley Corral, who finished with a team-high 14 points after making a pair of three-pointers in the final 1:03.
Cooper said his team's shooting woes didn't bother him as much as its defensive struggles.
"We have to get a little nastier," Cooper said.
The UCLA student section was plenty mean, insulting Cooper and his players throughout the game.
"You could just feel it there on the bench, on the court," UCLA guard Doreena Campbell, who had 13 points, said of the atmosphere. "It's something you won't forget."
Edney, point guard for the Bruins' 1994-95 NCAA championship team, had infused some pep in the Bruins before the game, helping them rebound from a lackluster showing in a loss to Louisiana State in their last home game.
"When you're playing against a team like 'SC it's about having heart," Bruins Coach Nikki Caldwell said, "and I think the team listened to him and took his message to heart."