Ogwumike leads Stanford women over USC

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm •  Published: February 21, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chiney Ogwumike wouldn't let her last appearance at USC end without a fight.

She overcame a poor first half and led No. 5 Stanford to its biggest comeback in seven years.

Ogwumike scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Bonnie Samuelson added 14 points as Stanford defeated USC 64-59 on Friday night.

Stanford (25-2, 14-1) erased a 19-point deficit in the first half and clinched at least a share of its 14th straight Pac-12 regular-season title and 23rd overall. The Cardinal also secured the Pac-12 Tournament's top seed.

Ogwumike scored 12 of her team's first 17 points of the second half to spark the eighth largest comeback in NCAA history and the largest by Stanford 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 43-43 and then 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 bounced back from her rough start.

"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.'"

Ariya Crook led the Trojans (16-11, 9-6) with 24 points, and Cassie Harberts scored 12. Crook made a 3-pointer to pull USC within 62-59 with 18 seconds remaining before 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 first-half lead.

USC missed 13 of its first 15 shots in the second half. The turning point might have been when it grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession but came away empty. Ogwumike then scored inside to bring Stanford to 43-41.