USC Toughs Out 80-77 Win Over UCLA

Feb. 26, 2005

Box Score

Freshman Brynn Cameron posted her first career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as every USC starter scored in double figures in a nail-biting 80-77 win against crosstown rival UCLA in front of a season-high 5,222 fans at the Sports Arena on Saturday (Feb. 26).

USC improved to 18-9 overall and 12-6 in the Pac-10 to finish in a three-way tie for second with Oregon and Arizona State, Troy's best Pac-10 finish since winning the league title in 1994. It's also USC's most wins since going 20-9 in 1997, also the last year the Women of Troy went to the NCAA Tournament.

Troy's win over UCLA, however, should go a long way into persuading the NCAA Tournament selection committee to include the Trojans regardless of what happens at the 2005 Pac-10 Tournament.

USC will be the No. 4 seed and will play No. 5 seed Arizona on Saturday (March 5) in a game tentatively set to start at 7:15 p.m. The teams split their two games this season, each team winning on its home court.

But after USC defeated UCLA (16-11, 10-8) for the sixth time in a row at the Sports Arena, the team was trying to enjoy the moment.

'Both teams played extremely well. They left it all on the floor,' USC first-year coach Mark Trakh said. 'This is an intense rivalry and this was a great win. To get our first against UCLA in USC colors is awesome.

'I never dreamed of a season like this. I was thinking 12 or 13 wins this year and maybe get to 18-9 in two years. This gives us great momentum going into the tournament. It'll be fun.'

The win also gave USC five points in the Lexus-Gauntlet competition, the season-long battle between USC and UCLA in all sports.

UCLA, led by Lisa Willis's 25 points, led early at 15-5. But USC tied the game at 20-20 at 11:00 and ground out a 47-42 lead at the half. USC made nine of its school-record-tying 12 three-pointers in the first half, including four in the final 2:25, two each by Cameron and junior Meghan Gnekow.

The Trojans maintained a small lead for most of the second half, but it was never more than six. That was the lead when Eshaya Murphy made two free throws to give USC a 72-66 edge with 5:11 to play. UCLA crawled back, though, and pulled to within 72-71 with 1:34 to play.

USC responded with five free throws in row to go up 77-71 with 41 seconds to go, but Willis answered with a three-pointer. UCLA then had two chances to tie the game at the foul line, but Willis only made 2-of-3 free throws to pull UCLA within 77-76 with 12 ticks left. Murphy next made 1-of-2 at the line to give USC a two-point lead, but UCLA's Nikki Blue got fouled on the Bruins' next possession and was sent to the line. But she also only made 1-of-2.

Trojan freshman point guard Camille LeNoir was fouled immediately and coolly hit both of her foul shots to give USC its 80-77 lead with four seconds to go. UCLA's final game-tying three-point attempt was off-base, sending the Women of Troy into a mid-court celebration.

Playing in their final home games as seniors, Rachel Woodward and Kim Gipson scored 10 points apiece. LeNoir finished with 14 points and five assists and three steals. Gnekow ended up with 12 points and eight boards.

'This whole week we've been really concentrating on this game,' Cameron said. 'We knew this would be the biggest game of the year.

'This gives us great momentum. We knew if we won this game, it would go a long way toward making the tournament.'

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