Jan. 12, 1997

    Third-Ranked Stanford Edges USC

    LOS ANGELES, CA -- In one of the best games of the season, mens or women's, college or pro, or high school for that matter, USC battled bravely but missed a last second shot and fell to third-ranked Stanford, 77-76, in front of a standing room only crowd at the Lyon Center in Los Angeles.

    The once-beaten Cardinal (16-1 overall, 4-0 Pac-10) were led by All-American Kate Starbird's 40-point show. However, with Stanford down by a point, 76-75, with :20 to go it was senior guard Charmin Smith who drove through the lane and hit what proved to be the game-winning bucket with 10 seconds remaining.

    With just five seconds to play, USC (9-4, 3-1) called time out and set up a play for forward Tina Thompson, who scored a team-high 25 despite being double- and triple-teamed throughout. Jodi Parriott inbounded the ball in front of the Trojan bench and found Thompson, who cut to the lane and got off a soft left-handed runner from about 7-feet that didn't fall.

    The final-second dramatics only added to a game in which Naismth Candidates Thompson and Starbird traded remarkable spurts of individual play.

    A glance at Starbird's marksmanship (15-of-20 field goals, 5-of-8 from three-point range, 5-of-6 from the foul line) is indiciative of the effort needed by the once-beaten Cardinal to overcome the unranked but improving Women of Troy.

    To open the second half, Starbird scored 21 of her club's first 26 points and she did so in just nine minutes. Her impressive dead-eye assortment of set-shot three-pointers, running jumpers and street-smart baseline buckets lifted the Cardinal to a 59-50 lead midway through the period.

    Fittingly, behind Thompson's six straight points, USC rallied to tie the game at 62 with 8:10 left.

    The sterling individual efforts were simply an encore from their performances in the first half.

    Trailing 8-5, Thompson lit up the Cardinal for a pair of three-pointers (one from NBA range) as the Trojans scored 10 straight and jumped out to a 15-8 lead at 10:16.

    Stanford answered to climb to within a point, 15-14, during which Starbird took a deep defensive rebound and turned it into a 1-on-3 fastbreak, nailing a pull-up jumper on the right elbow of the lane in the midst of all three Trojans.

    Down again and nearing intermission, Starbird drained a set-shot three and then fed Smith on the next offensive possesion, who drilled a go-head 3-pointer with four seconds left to make the halftime count, 33-31.

    Although Thompson deserves star treatment, USC had balance. Center Michelle Campbell added 12, Erica Jackson had 11 and Kristin Clark chipped in with 10, plus four steals and four assists.

    The Trojans return to the floor when they travel to Arizona on Jan 16.

    Game Notes

    • Three of USC's four losses have been by 3 points or less.

    • USC's Thompson is a top candidate for the Naismith Player-of-the-Year Award. Tina moved into sixth place on the Pac-10 career scoring list (1892), five points ahead of UCLA's Rehema Stephens (1887). She is three rebounds away from moving into fifth place on the Pac-10 career rebound list, ahead of Oregon's Stephanie Kasperski (996).

    • Thompson leads the conference in scoring. She totaled 19, and added 8 rebounds and 4 steals, in just 24 minutes Friday in a victory against Cal.

    • USC is the only team other than Stanford to win a Pac-10 title (1993-94) this decade.

    • Stanford's Starbird scored a career-high 44 last season in Palo Alto against USC.

    • Cardinal center Olympia Scott wears jersey number 0.

    Post-Game Quotes

    On Starbird's performance: "Kate's an exceptional player. She really turned it on in the second half. She came out really firing and took tough shots. She took tough shots with people in her face and tough shots on the baseline."

    On his team's showing: "I'm pleased with the team. They played hard and executed well. All I want this team to do is be a 40-minute team and they showed that tonight. We just really played hard."

    On the final play: "We got it into her (Thompson) hands and, of course, they (Stanford) wanted to double-team her. She got the look at the basket. And we got the rebound. And we went back up and ran out of time."

    On Tina Thompson's game: "She played a very good game. It's kind of hard to go out and score double-figures when you are triple- and double-teamed, especially when you have the No. 3 team in the country doing that to you. She's been real consistent."

    On Starbird's game: "I think today you saw why Kate Starbird is an All-American. She was hitting big shots. She impressed me."

    On USC's last-second shot: "I think they went with their money player. She got a shot up and they really got close to getting a second shot up. It made for a great game. It made for a great ending."

    On USC not being ranked: "I just want to go on record and say one thing - you can't tell me there are 25 teams (in the country) that are better than SC. You look at Tina Thompson, you look at how well they're playing, I just don't believe it. Who has better big players? They are really an excellent team."

    STANFORD (77)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Starbird        40 15-20   5-6   1-5  1  3   40
    Mulitauaopele   21   2-4   1-1   2-6  1  3    5
    Scott           39  3-14   1-2  4-11  0  2    7
    Batastini        5   0-2   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
    Smith           36  6-12   2-3   3-8  6  4   15
    Flores          28   2-5   0-0   1-4  4  3    5
    Owen            16   1-1   0-0   1-2  2  2    2
    Benton           3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  2    0
    Mcnamee          1   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
    Wideman         11   0-1   3-4   1-2  0  1    3
    TOTALS         200 29-59 12-16 13-40 14 20   77
    Percentages: FG-.492, FT-.750. 3-Point Goals:
    7-16, .438 (Starbird 5-8, Batastini 0-1, Smith
    1-4, Flores 1-3). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked
    shots: 1 (Mulitauaopele). Turnovers: 21 (Scott 6,
    Smith 4, Starbird 3, Batastini 2, Mcnamee 2,
    Mulitauaopele 2, Flores). Steals: 5 (Flores 2,
    Starbird 2, Batastini).
    USC (76)
                          fg    ft    rb
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
    Thompson        35  9-21   5-5   4-8  4  4   25
    Parriott        31   1-3   2-2   1-1  2  2    5
    Campbell        35  4-11   4-7   3-5  0  1   12
    Jackson         34   3-7   3-6   0-2  3  2   11
    Kr Clark        36  3-10   2-2   2-3  4  3   10
    Williams        14   1-2   3-4   0-2  0  1    6
    Washington       5   1-2   3-3   0-0  0  1    5
    Miller          10   1-2   0-0   0-2  1  1    2
    TOTALS         200 23-58 22-29 10-23 14 15   76
    Percentages: FG-.397, FT-.759. 3-Point Goals:
    8-16, .500 (Thompson 2-5, Parriott 1-2, Jackson
    2-3, Kr Clark 2-4, Williams 1-1, Miller 0-1).
    Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3 (Parriott,
    Campbell, Williams). Turnovers: 11 (Jackson 3, Kr
    Clark 3, Thompson 2, Parriott, Williams). Steals:
    6 (Kr Clark 4, Washington, Williams).
    Stanford           33   44  -   77
    USC                31   45  -   76
    Technical fouls: None.  A: 1,052. Officials: Kim
    Balque, Henry Martinez, Shelley Nakason.