Feb. 22, 1997
USC Takes Down Bruins
LOS ANGELES -- After a slow start, USC (17-6 11-3 Pac-10) played tenacious defense and steam-rolled rival UCLA 87-74 in front of a crowd of 1,417 in the Lyon Center.
Naismith Player-of-the-Year Candidate Tina Thompson had an off night (0-for-4 from 3-point land) but still notched a double-double with game-high totals of 19 points and 14 rebounds, as the Women of Troy swept the season series and continued recent domination over UCLA winning 11 of the last 12 meetings.
Down 16-8 in the first half, USC turned around the game by limiting the Bruins (11-12, 5-9) to just a pair of field goals the last 15:30 of the half and a 32 percent shooting in the half.
That defense, and a run of 10 straight Trojan points midway through the first half, was sparked by emerging star Tiffany Washington and accomplished with Thompson on the bench nursing a bruised kneecap.
Washington, a 6-foot-2 freshman forward, came off the bench to score six points and grab five rebounds in a forceful 11-minute stint before sitting down with three fouls.
Kristin Clark, a 5-7 player from Cupertino, followed up a career-high 23 point performance in the first meeting with 17 (on 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range) and five steals. Center Michelle Campbell added 13 points.
Forward Aisha Veasley scored 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Bruins.
Next, the Trojans travel to Oregon, Feb. 27 and Oregon State, March 1.
Quotes: USC Coach Fred Williams "It wasn't easy at all. The game plan was to be aggressive on defense and get a lot of pressure on their guards. Tiffany Washington played a fine game for us coming off the bench. We just played some good team basketball, and that was a fun thing to see. This is huge, a big rivalry game for us.
On Washington's Role: On the boards she's real aggressive. She sets the tone for doing things on the boards and scrambling for loose balls. She got a couple of steals.
On first half spurt: What we were trying to do was get in the passing lanes and make a couple of key players for them make decisions. We moved on defense. And we moved well as a unit and as a team."
USC Guard Kristin Clark: "We wanted to come out and show UCLA who's the best team in town. My shot felt real good tonight."
On first half turnaround: We got some key steals. We started getting rebounds, hitting our shots and getting going. We started running a bit more."
On Washington's spark: She's big-time on the boards. She gets in there and gives you 110 percent. She got some key rebounds for us. You can always count on her when we need boards. She can jump. She's tough. I look forward to playing with her for the next three years."
USC Freshman Tiffany Washington: "It was really important, so we were going to take it to them strong. No hold back. Everybody all out. We played really, good together."
The last time when we played up at UCLA, I didn't many minutes. So this time once I got in I went all out. I know we needed a boost. A lot of times I'm like the pepper-upper and I have to be the one to say 'come on guys'. Or if I'm in the lineup, I have to show them some aggression.
On players she models herself after: "Tina Thompson, of course. Lisa Leslie. And I like sheryl Swoopes also."
Tina Thompson has been a model of high-performance and consistency all season. She continues to average a double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds), which is good enough for tops in the conference in scoring and second in rebounding.
Thompson now has 13 double-doubles this season and 55 in her career. And Thompson turns in big game after big game in the face of double- and triple-team defenses.
The last time USC hosted UCLA in the Lyon Center, Thompson gunned in a career-high 49 points, one shy of the Pac-10 and school record of 50 set by former Trojan Cherie Nelson.
In the first meeting this season, speedy Trojan guard Kristin Clark scored a career-high 23 (11 points above her average) in the 60-56 win over UCLA.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Trojans have already exceeded last season's overall and conference win totals while playing an extremely competitive schedule.
Three of USC's six losses have been by three points or less, and four of the losses have come at the hands of teams that were ranked in the Top 10 at the time.