Crook's best effort can't lift USC over Stanford

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2014 at 11:47 pm •  Published: February 21, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ariya Crook did all she could to try to lift USC to an upset win over No. 5 Stanford.

Even her hot shooting at the end wasn't enough.

Crook and the Trojans took a 19-point lead in the first half but lost to a reorganized Cardinal team 64-59 on Friday night.

"We were tired in the second half," Crook said. "So the shots that we took in the first half we couldn't really make it in the second half because our legs are going or our focus is not there."

Crook led USC with 24 points, and Cassie Harberts scored 12 for the Trojans (16-11, 9-6). Crook made a 3-pointer to pull USC within 62-59 with 18 seconds remaining before Bonnie Samuelson made two free throws.

Crook twice pulled USC within four points in the final 3:32. USC, which was trying to end a 13-game losing streak to Stanford, had a 32-13 lead in the first half but couldn't sustain the offensive pace in the second half.

"What we tried to do was just stay positive and work through it," USC coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. "I thought we got some real strategic stops. We just couldn't get those baskets to fall and really continue to keep pressure on Stanford. They're just a great team. They make you pay for your mistakes."

Chiney Ogwumike led Stanford to its biggest comeback in seven years with 27 points and seven rebounds. Samuelson scored 14 points as the Cardinal (25-2, 14-1) clinched at least a share of their 14th straight Pac-12 regular season title and 23rd overall. They also secured the Pac-12 Tournament's top seed.

Ogwumike scored 12 of her team's first 17 points of the second half to help Stanford complete the eighth largest comeback in NCAA history and the school's largest since it rallied from 19 points down against Temple on Nov. 25, 2007.

"I think this game was all about fight," Ogwumike said. "I said it was ironic because we're at the home of "Fight On!" and we're telling each other to 'Fight on, fight on.' I'm proud of our mental stability to be able to stay with it even though we're 20 points down."

Ogwumike grabbed a steal at midcourt and drove for a basket to tie it at 43 and scored the next two baskets on a spin move and an uncontested layup to give Stanford the lead for good. With WNBA coach Michael Cooper scouting in the stands, Ogwumike overcame her poor first half.

"Some games it takes me a while to get used to the physicality, and kudos to their defense," said Ogwumike, who moved into 10th on the NCAA career rebounding list with 1,444. "They were just really aggressive. They were physical. They were attacking the ball. They were getting their hands on the ball. But once I get comfortable with the physicality, it's not cruise control but I'm (thinking), 'OK, I know how to play this game.'"