Stepheson Leads Gold Team To Victory In Cardinal & Gold Scrimmage

Oct. 25, 2009

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Forwards Alex Stepheson scored 13 points and Nikola Vucevic seven to lead the Gold team to a 36-20 win in USC's annual Cardinal and Gold Scrimmage held today (Oct. 25) at the Galen Center. The game was the second half of the day's festivities as the team also host the Dribble for the Cure fundraiser to benefit pediatric cancer research.

In what amounted to half of a game as the teams played two 10-minutes periods, the Gold team jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game and never looked back. During that stretch, each Gold starter - Stepheson, Vucevic, Mike Gerrity, Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis - made a basket, including a three-pointer by Gerrity.

It wasn't until forward Leonard Washington hit the second of his two free throw attempts at the 4:56 mark, that the Cardinal team got on the board to trail 11-1. Guard Marcus Simmons hit a jumper with 2:42 left in the first half for the Cardinal team's first field goal and they reached the break trailing 20-5. The Gold team made 50.0 percent (8-for-16) of its first half shots, while the Cardinal team hit 18.2 percent from the field (2-for-11) in the first half.

During the brief 10-minute halftime, there was a trade which sent Gerrity to the Cardinal team and guard Korri Ennis to the Gold team. Ennis was the one player from the tryouts on Oct. 17 asked to remain on and practice with the team.

Also during halftime, USC head coach Kevin O'Neill spoke to both teams as he was sitting at the end of the court evaluating the action. Assistant coach Gib Arnold led the winning Gold team today, while assistant coach Bob Cantu ran the Cardinal squad.

The Gold team also won the second half by a score of 16-15 for the final winning total of 36-20. The Cardinal squad was led by six points each from Washington and forward Kasey Cunningham. Washington tied Stepheson with a game-high five rebounds. Cunningham added three rebounds and all six of his points came at the free throw line where he was 6-for-8. The redshirt junior Cunningham had his 2008-09 season cut short after just four games when he suffered a knee injury.

Vucevic scored his seven points on 2-for-3 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 shooting from the free throw line, while grabbing four rebounds.

Coach O'Neill mentioned that he was pleased with the way the team rebounded and got the ball inside to the big men, but said they need to decrease their turnovers and that there is still plenty of work to do before the season opener on Nov. 17 vs. UC Riverside.

Guard Donte Smith was held out of the game today due to soreness in his left ankle. He did participate in part of the morning practice, but felt soreness in the ankle he originally sprained on Oct. 16 so he was kept out of the game for precautionary reasons.

USC will host CS Dominguez Hills at the Galen Center in the final exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.

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