Strong Finish Nets USC Win In Pac-10 Opener
Jan. 2, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team pulled through for an important victory in the Trojans' Pac-10 opener, pushing past visiting Oregon for a 66-56 win on Friday night at the Galen Center. After nine lead changes, USC held on to its late lead and expanded its margin behind some key defensive stops and scores at the other end. Nadia Parker led the Trojans with 17 points, while Brynn Cameron added 13 and Briana Gilbreath had 10. Also notching notable performances were Hailey Dunham with a career-high 10 rebounds and Camille LeNoir with five assists to move the senior ahead of Trojan great Cynthia Cooper on the all-time career assists list. USC improves to 7-5 overall with the win and holds a 1-0 Pac-10 mark, while Oregon moves to 3-7, 0-1.
The Trojans got down by 10 in the first half, but managed to generate a 15-2 run in a span of 4:30 to get back in the game and take their first lead. Although USC remained at a loss on the boards, another scoring spurt later in the half helped the Trojans heat up to a 53.8 percent scoring effort and a 36-32 lead by halftime. In the second half, USC buckled down on the boards and passed up the Ducks to finish out-rebounding Oregon 36-32. Shooting cooled down for both teams as the lead continued to change hands, leaving USC shooting 40.7 percent and Oregon at 41.5 percent in the game. The Ducks were led by 18 points from Micaela Cocks and 16 from Amanda Johnson.
Only two Trojan rebounds in the first six minutes of play didn't help USC's cause to open the game, as the Ducks opened up a nine-point lead. Oregon got up 17-7 at 12:57 in the first half, only to have Ashley Corral knock down a three, Nadia Parker get a steal, and Corral finish off a smooth take to the hoop to make it 17-12. And after a Corral steal, Briana Gilbreath landed a pair of free throws to pull USC within three at 17-14 with 11:45 on the clock. Brynn Cameron closed the gap with a swish on a three, and the teams were tied back up 17-17 at 10:55. Cameron was later responsible for getting the Trojans their first lead of the game with a jumper that put USC on top 20-19 at 9:15. Oregon would hit on a short 6-0 run to grab back the lead, but that run sparked a productive Trojan stretch. A 12-0 USC scoring spurt took the Trojans into some semblance of control with a 34-25 lead, although then it was Oregon's turn to piece together a stretch of scoring that pushed it to a two-point game in the final minute. Putting the finishing touches on the half was Nadia Parker, however, who slipped in a score with 3.8 seconds left off a pass from Camille LeNoir. The basket put USC ahead 36-32 for the half, and locked LeNoir in with 381 career assists to tie at No. 6 all-time with the legendary Cynthia Cooper.
With some renewed zest on the boards, USC beat out its first-half rebound total with 11 boards in the first five minutes of play. The Trojans got up 40-32 on a Parker putback and a bucket from Gilbreath before Oregon got a take from Taylor Lilley and a third 3-pointer from Micaela Cocks to make it 40-37 USC at 16:25. Hailey Dunham hauled in her 10th rebound of the game on a Lilley miss at 13:30, getting herself to a new career high. After another lockup at 48-48, Parker scored on an Oliver assist, and Cameron remained perfect at the line, working into double figures with Parker as the senior knocked down two free throws for a 52-48 USC lead at 8:48. The lead would change hands three more times, as Oregon got back ahead by one with a short run. Cameron followed that with her third three of the night, but Oregon answered with another long one from Cocks for a 56-55 Ducks advantage at 3:20. Solid defensive pressure from the Trojans down the stretch helped anchor a forceful push back into the lead. Dunham knocked in a jumper, then nabbed a steal and hit LeNoir for a fast break runner and a 59-56 USC edge at 2:30. LeNoir grabbed a steal next, then Parker interrupted another Oregon offensive series. LeNoir hit Dunham for the score at the other end, and then Gilbreath hauled in an important defensive rebound for the Trojans. She was fouled and sank both tosses in her one-and-one to take USC ahead 63-56 with 1:05 on the clock. Free throws from LeNoir in the final 40 seconds sealed the deal and capped a 66-56 victory for the Trojans.
USC's next action comes up on Sunday (Jan. 4) with another Pac-10 tilt as the Trojans host Oregon State at 2 p.m. at the Galen Center.
- Camille LeNoir passed Trojan great Cynthia Cooper in career assists with five assists tonight. LeNoir now ranks No. 6 all-time with 384 career assists. All-American Cooper holds 381.
- Hailey Dunham had a new career high of 10 rebounds. Her previous high was nine.