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Miller’s 43 Not Enough as USC Women Denied

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Times Staff Writer

Saturday began as one of those highly emotional days for the USC women’s basketball team.

A few minutes before the Trojans’ game against Louisiana Tech, the house lights were dimmed in the Sports Arena, and a spotlight focused up to the rafters, where USC’s 1984 national championship banner was unveiled.

The crowd of 7,538 cheered, and the Trojans, riding that emotional crest, got out to a 6-0 lead in the first two minutes.

But following another 48 minutes of basketball, the afternoon concluded on the other end of the emotional scale for USC. The Trojans dropped a disheartening, 83-79 decision to the Lady Techsters in double overtime. Not only did the loss snap USC’s 53-game Sports Arena winning streak, it had to play on the minds of the Trojan players and coaches.

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USC wasted a school-record 43-point performance by forward Cheryl Miller, who made 17 of 28 shots and 9 of 10 free throws, before fouling out with 1:14 left in the second overtime. And for the second time this season, USC blew an 11-point, first-half lead.

Seventh-ranked and unbeaten Louisiana Tech (17-0) sent the game into overtime when Teresa Weatherspoon banked a shot in from the top of the key at the buzzer to tie the game, 63-63.

USC had a chance to go ahead by three, but Yolanda Fletcher missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with five seconds remaining. Tech’s Kay Konerza grabbed the rebound and passed upcourt to Weatherspoon, who got her shot off just in time.

Louisiana Tech built a five-point lead in the first overtime, but USC came back behind Miller, who scored all 10 of the Trojans’ points during the five-minute period.

USC got a break when both Janet Karvonen and Weatherspoon missed free throws in the bonus situation. The Trojans worked the ball into Miller, who scored, despite knocking down two defenders, with nine seconds left to tie the game, 73-73.

Miller, triple-teamed inside, missed early in the second overtime, and Tech went ahead on Tori Harrison’s basket. Tech eventually took an 81-77 lead on jumpers by Weatherspoon and Stacey Davis, but after Miller left with her fifth foul, Holly Ford scored to cut it to 81-79.

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But Weatherspoon clinched Tech’s win by making two free throws with two seconds left. Davis led the Lady Techsters with 20 points, while Pam Gant, who fouled out late in regulation, finished with 19.

Despite Miller’s performance, USC (11-4) shot 39% from the floor, making 30 of 70 shots. Fletcher, normally the Trojans’ best outside shooter, had an off-day (6 of 18 from the floor), while forward Tracy Longo made only 1 of her 13 shots.

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