No. 4 Stanford 61, Southern Cal 53
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Stanford cruised through the start of the season, building a 9-1 record with wins against ranked Tennessee and Texas.
Things weren't quite so easy in the No. 4 Cardinal's Pac-12 opener.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Toni Kokenis added 15 and Stanford pulled away over the final 10 minutes to beat Southern California 61-53 Thursday night.
''We had to win ugly,'' Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''I was really proud how our team battled when we were missing shots that we ordinarily make.''
Ashley Corral scored 21 points for the Trojans (5-6, 0-1), who returned home after nearly a month on the road to lose their eighth straight to the Cardinal (10-1, 1-1).
''There's no reason to lose this game,'' USC coach Michael Cooper said. ''We had them right where we wanted them.''
Last season, the Cardinal rolled through conference play undefeated last season on their way to a Final Four appearance.
But the Trojans proved stubborn.
''This is what we expect, pretty much getting everyone's `A' game,'' VanDerveer said.
It was a three-point game for much of the second half, and Stanford switched to a zone late.
''It helped us,'' VanDerveer said. ''I don't know if it was disruptive.''
After getting within one several times early in the second half, USC took its only lead of the half, 44-43, on a 3-pointer by Ariya Crook. Stanford struggled with turnovers and at the free throw line, making just 8 of 16 in the half.
''It says here I made seven. I felt like I missed 60,'' Nnemkadi Ogwumike said. ''It's all about that extra work in practice and being focused, that's a huge thing.''
From there, Stanford outscored the Trojans 15-5 to end the game. Nnemkadi Ogwumike had nine points and her sister Chiney Ogwumike, who played with three fouls, added four in the spurt.
The Trojans repeatedly missed shots after keeping it close on the shooting of Corral and Christina Marinacci, who had 12 points.
Chiney Ogwumike finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. The sisters helped Stanford to a 30-14 scoring advantage in the paint and a 44-40 edge on the boards.
''The sisters came down and took it to another level,'' Corral said.
Briana Gilbreath had 12 rebounds - 10 on the defensive boards - for the Trojans, who led by three points early in the game.
''They defended well,'' Nnemkadi Ogwumike said. ''They made it difficult for us to execute our offense.''
The Trojans closed the half on a 14-5 run to trail 33-30 at the break. Corral scored five points and Briana Gilbreath made four straight free throws to erase most of Stanford's largest lead of 12 points.
''We knew USC was going to give us a really tough game,'' Kokenis said. ''They made it difficult for us to score. We kept fighting and got some loose balls. We got some key stops defensively that really helped us in the end.''
The Cardinal opened the game on a 13-5 spurt before USC ran off nine unanswered points to take a one-point lead. Stanford responded with a 15-2 run of its own, including 11 straight points during which Bonnie Samuelson and Kokenis had 3-pointers, to lead 28-16.
Both teams shot nearly identically in the half and both had seven turnovers.
The Trojans were without senior Jacki Gemelos, who tore her ACL against Texas A&M for the fourth time when she hurt her left knee on Dec. 18.