Photo: Ben Margot / Associated Press
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Not since 2001 has USC won a women’s basketball game at Maples Pavilion.
The Trojans gave No. 6 Stanford a stiff test for three quarters Friday night before the Cardinal took control and went on to a 72-64 win in their Pac-12 opener.
It was Stanford’s 22nd win in its past 23 meetings with the Trojans. The Cardinal (11-1) ran their record in conference openers to 30-3 with their 17th straight home win over USC.
They are off to their best 12-game start since the 2013-14 team started 22-1, but this was far from a picnic.
Stanford was without forward Maya Dodson, its leading rebounder, because of a foot injury. And starting forward Nadia Fingall hyperextended her leg in the third quarter. She returned in the fourth quarter, only to limp off again a few minutes later.
Also, starting forward Lexie Hull missed her ninth game because of a foot injury. Point guard Marta Sniezek has yet to play this season because of a run of injuries.
“We’re gritty — we play through anything, no matter what,” said Alanna Smith, who finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Cardinal. “As (coach) Tara (VanDerveer) says, it wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty. … We’re OK with that. We don’t have to play pretty to win.”
Kiana Williams led Stanford with 22 points, including four three-pointers. DiJonai Carrington added 14 points.
Former Salesian-Richmond standout Minyon Moore had 13 points and Kayla Overbeck posted 10 for USC (10-3, 0-2).
A three by Smith pushed Stanford’s lead to 58-51 in the fourth quarter. It was 58-54 before Lacie Hull hit a three, then hit a reverse layup. Carrington hit a free throw, and Williams scored to complete an 8-0 run for a 66-54 lead.
There were 13 lead changes and 14 ties by the time Stanford staged an 8-0 run to take a 54-47 lead at the end of the third quarter. Carrington drove for a three-point play, Williams hit a three, and Hull stole the ball and went the distance for a layup.
Stanford made just two of its first 12 shots and trailed 6-5 before Smith and Williams hit threes and Smith added a layup for a 13-6 lead.
But the Trojans finished the first quarter on an 8-0 run as Moore and Cheyanne Wallace sank threes and Moore drove for a basket just before the buzzer, giving USC a 19-17 lead.
USC edged ahead three times in the second quarter, aided by seven points by reserve guard Desiree Caldwell.
After trailing 33-31 at the half, Stanford “had a much better second half,” VanDerveer said. “We got out in transition. We spaced the floor better and took care of the ball better. They’re a very physical and aggressive team.”
Neither team shot well in the half. USC shot 38 percent, but Stanford was worse (36 percent). Smith kept the Cardinal close with 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Moore had 10 points for the Trojans.
Briefly: Stanford hosts UCLA at 1 p.m. Sunday. … The Cardinal entered the game with the 13th best three-point shooting percentage (39.1) in the country, but shot just 28 percent (8-for-29)… USC was picked to finish seventh in both the Pac-12 coaches and media preseason polls.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Stanford-women-overcome-injuries-to-beat-USC-13510416.php.