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No. 6 Irish Hold Off USC, 60-56

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

USC flirted with a major upset in women’s basketball Friday night, leading No. 6-ranked Notre Dame by five late in the second half before falling, 60-56, in front of an announced crowd of 3,085 at the Sports Arena.

The Trojans had a 45-40 edge with less than eight minutes left, but the Irish responded with 10 consecutive points.

Still, Notre Dame (6-0), which had 18 points from Jacqueline Batteast and 12 from Megan Duffy, came away impressed by the youthful energy and verve of USC (1-2).

“They’re terrific defensively, and they rebound like crazy,” Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw said of the Trojans. “I don’t know what the margin ended up being, but they did a great job on the offensive boards. We couldn’t shut out their big players.”

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The Trojans did have a 42-36 rebounding edge, but there was another statistic that didn’t please Coach Mark Trakh.

“We should have won this game. But we’re seven of 17 from the free-throw line,” Trakh said. “We make free throws, we win the game.”

The Trojans, in a nod to the Irish advantage in size and experience, hoped to use speed and depth as a neutralizer. “We wanted to make the game as frantic as possible,” Trakh said.

And even though Notre Dame took a 12-4 lead and was able to inch its advantage to 29-20 edge at halftime, USC did establish a quick tempo that bothered the Irish in the first half. Notre Dame made 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and 23 turnovers overall.

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The Trojans, who finished with 25 turnovers, continued their high-octane ways in the second half, and the rewards came rapidly. USC opened the half with a 14-3 run to take a 34-32 lead. Jamie Funn had 13 points to lead the Trojans.

Said USC’s Kim Gipson, who tied her career high with 12 points: “We have to get better at handling the last four to five minutes of the game.”

Mike Terry

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No. 2 Louisiana State 64, No. 22 Maryland 51 -- Sylvia Fowles had 18 points and 18 rebounds, and Seimone Augustus had 23 points to lead the Tigers (6-0) over the Terrapins (2-1) in the opening game of the Coors Classic at Boulder, Colo.

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No. 3 Georgia 77, Idaho 55 -- Cori Chambers and Tasha Humphrey each scored 18 points for the Bulldogs (3-0), who beat the Vandals (2-1) in the Rainbow Wahine Classic’s first round at Honolulu.

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No. 13 Michigan State 56, Utah 54 -- The Spartans’ Kristin Haynie made a layup with two seconds left for the victory over the Utes (1-2) in the first round of the Rainbow Wahine Classic. Haynie scored the game’s last six points and finished with 12 for Michigan State (3-0).

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No. 16 Kansas State 105, Illinois State 61 -- Kendra Wecker had a school-record 41 points to lift the Wildcats (3-0) over the Redbirds (0-2) at Freeport, Bahamas, in the Junkanoo Jam. In today’s title game, Kansas State will play No. 10 Duke (4-1), an 84-29 winner over Stephen F. Austin.

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Michigan 57, UC Santa Barbara 51 -- The Wolverines (1-1) ended the 12-game home winning streak of the Gauchos (1-1) at Goleta, Calif.


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