No. 17 UCLA women beat crosstown rival USC 68-54

  • Article by: JOE HAAKENSON
  • Associated Press
  • February 20, 2013 - 12:24 AM

LOS ANGELES - Atonye Nyingifa scored 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting to lead No. 17 UCLA to a 68-54 victory over USC on Tuesday night.

Nyingifa had help from Thea Lemberger (12 points), Jasmine Dixon (10 points) and Markel Walker (11 rebounds, eight assists) as the Bruins (20-6, 11-4 Pac-12) built a lead as large as 26 points and ended a two-game losing streak.

USC (8-18, 5-10) lost its seventh in a row, and its 18 losses are the second-most in school history, surpassed only by 20 losses in 1998-99.

Cassie Harberts, who began the night ranked third in the Pac-12 averaging 17.8 points per game, led USC with 17 points and nine rebounds. Ariya Crook added 10 points for the Trojans but was just 4 of 19 from the field. USC shot 28 percent for the game and was outrebounded 49-40.

USC and UCLA play again Sunday at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

The Trojans trailed at the half, 34-19, but looked as though they might make a run at the Bruins by coming out strong to start the second half. Christina Marinacci, the Trojans' only senior on the team, got a quick steal and Crook hit a short jumper to make it 34-21 and get the USC crowd fired up. But the Bruins quickly doused USC's spark with some pinpoint outside shooting.

Lemberger hit consecutive 3-pointers to give UCLA a 40-21 lead. Moments later, Walker was good on another 3-pointer and the Bruins were up 43-23.

USC went into the game having lost six in a row but had to feel at least some confidence coming off a hard-fought loss to No. 6 California two days earlier. In that one, the Trojans were within four points of Cal in the final 2 minutes of the game before eventually losing by eight.

The Trojans fell behind quickly Tuesday when UCLA took a 4-0 lead. But USC kept it close and trailed just 10-9 after Harberts scored underneath on a pass from Marinacci.

The Trojans, though, got sloppy over the next several minutes. On their next five possessions, they had three turnovers and two missed shots, and the Bruins went on a 10-0 run to take a 20-9 lead with 9:15 left in the first half.

UCLA, led by Nyingifa's 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, finished the first half strong, going up 34-19 on Dixon's layup in the final seconds. Dixon had a productive half for UCLA, scoring 10 points.

USC got 11 points from Harberts in the opening half but shot poorly both from the field (6 of 25) and from the free-throw line (6 from 13). USC also held a 26-18 rebounding edge at the break, led by eight from Walker.

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