USC Edges South Florida, 67-65, To Advance To Second Round Of NCAA Tournament

March 20, 2006

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Chloe Kerr blocked a shot by South Florida's Jessica Dickson with 16 seconds to play Sunday night and Camille LeNoir made two free throws in the last 12 seconds as USC survived the first round of the NCAA tournament, 67-65.

The Women of Troy (19-11) advanced to a game against No. 4 Duke on Tuesday night in the Bridgeport Regional. The top-seeded Blue Devils beat Southern 96-27.

Shantia Grace had a chance to tie it for the Bulls (19-12) with 4.8 seconds left, but she missed the first of two free throws. After she made the second, LeNoir was fouled with 4.1 seconds left, and she made one of two from the line to clinch the win.

Grace's desperate heave at the buzzer wasn't even close.

Southern Cal was 13-for-16 from the line in the second half, when the lead was swapped 10 times. Eshaya Murphy provided the last change, giving the Women of Troy a 65-64 lead by making both ends of a one-and-one with 25.3 seconds remaining.

Then with Dickson driving to put the Bulls back ahead, Kerr blocked the shot, tying up the ball and getting the Women of Troy the ball back on the possession arrow.

Murphy had 21 points, LeNoir 17 and Kerr 16, 14 rebounds and five blocks for Southern Cal, the No. 8 seed. Dickson led the ninth-seeded Bulls with 18 points in their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Grace added 17 and Ezria Parsons had 13.

All the second half lead changes came in the final 11:37, starting when Kerr made a pair of free throws in an 11-0 run that ended with Southern Cal leading 51-47.

Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.

South Florida had run off seven straight points to lead 47-40 with 14:25 left. Shantia Grace had a 3-pointer in the burst, and Parsons' three-point play capped it.

Then the Women of Troy rallied, and the see-saw battle went to the finish.

The Bulls led 33-32 at halftime, used a 7-2 run to start the second half to lead 40-34, then saw the Women of Troy reply with three consecutive baskets to pull even.

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