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No. 4 Stanford beats USC 79-55 for 9th win in row

AP - Sports

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Chiney Ogwumike gathered her fellow starters before the game and reminded them what time of year it is.

''It's February and this is what prepares us for March,'' she said before leading No. 4 Stanford to a 79-55 victory over Southern California on Friday night.

Ogwumike had 26 points and 15 rebounds for her record-setting 20th double-double of the season in the Cardinal's 12th straight win over the reeling Trojans.

Joslyn Tinkle added 17 points and 11 rebounds, Mikaela Ruef had a career-best 12 points and eight rebounds, and Amber Orrange had 10 points to help keep the Cardinal (23-2, 12-1 Pac-12) tied with No. 6 California atop the league standings. The Golden Bears beat 15th-ranked UCLA 79-51 earlier Friday. Stanford earned its ninth straight victory and improved to 14-0 away from home this season.

''Just different people stepping up in different roles this time of year is really important for us,'' Ogwumike said. ''Our team was determined.''

Alexyz Vaioletama scored 14 points and Cassie Harberts added 13 for the Trojans (8-16, 5-8), who have dropped five in a row and eight of nine. They shot 33 percent from the floor and went 13 of 17 from the free throw line.

Ogwumike's double-double bettered the single-season record that she and older sister Nneka set last season before Nneka graduated and began playing for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. Chiney has 50 double-doubles in her three-year career, one shy of Nneka's record of 51 set from 2008-12.

''I felt a little off-balance in the first half. I definitely forced a lot at some points,'' said Ogwumike, who had eight points in the half. ''Their defense was very aggressive and physical and it took me a while to figure out how to handle the pressure. Having time to regroup and listen to coach and my teammates helped me come out with a fresh start.''

The Trojans kept it close early in the game, which opened a stretch of four straight against ranked opponents. There were five lead changes and two ties in the first half before Stanford pulled away over the final 4:58.

''It was a tough game,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ''We struggled with our perimeter shooting, but our three captains did a great job as leaders.''

Stanford outscored USC 12-2 to end the first half leading 31-19, the Cardinal's first double-digit lead of the game.

The Trojans pulled to 19-17 on a 3-pointer by Ariya Crook before Orrange sparked the Cardinal's run with eight points.

Both teams committed eight turnovers each, but Stanford shot 46 percent from the field to USC's 27 percent.

''The first half we had a good game plan keeping Chiney contained, especially in the low post,'' Vaioletama said. ''The second half it was pretty difficult.''

Ogwumike scored Stanford's first seven points of the second half before Sara James and Tinkle hit back-to-back 3-pointers that pushed the lead to 44-29.

Tinkle, Ruef and Ogwumike combined for a 20-10 run that extended Stanford's lead to 64-39. Tinkle had nine points, Ruef six and Ogwumike four. Tinkle helped the Cardinal to a 36-16 edge in the paint and a 46-33 edge on the boards.

USC managed to end Stanford's streak of holding its previous three opponents to under 50 points. The Trojans shot 31 percent from 3-point range, better than the nation-leading 24 percent that Stanford had been allowing from behind the arc.

The win completed a season sweep by Stanford, which beat USC 75-66 last month. The Trojans haven't beaten the Cardinal since a 73-72 win on Jan. 6, 2008.

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