SEATTLE — This time Stanford couldn't avoid the upset, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament the Cardinal won't be in the title game.

The top-seeded Cardinal was stunned by No. 5 USC 72-68 on Saturday night in the Pac-12 semifinals. The Cardinal was the seven-time defending tournament champ and hadn't lost a conference tournament game since 2006.

“Offensively we really struggled, and that is something that I think we have two weeks to work on and that is our plan,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “This can be something hopefully that will get our collective team's attention.”


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The Trojans play for the championship and an automatic NCAA tournament bid on Sunday night against either Oregon State or Washington State.

Stanford, ranked fourth in the country, barely avoided Colorado's upset bid Friday night. They couldn't shake the Trojans (21-12), who have won three tournament games by a total of 11 points.

Southern California’s Ariya Crook (14) drives past Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the
Southern California's Ariya Crook (14) drives past Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Pac-12 women's tournament Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

USC made life difficult on Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike, who finished with 30 points and 21 rebounds but did not score in the final seven minutes. And they answered when the Cardinal made the type of surge that has put others away in the past. Cassie Harberts scored 10 straight points for USC after Stanford (29-3) had rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a 60-57 lead with 5:06 remaining.

Ogwumike moved into a tie with former Cardinal Candice Wiggins as the Pac-12 career scoring leader with a pair of free throws with 7:09 left. But Ogwumike went scoreless the rest of the way, and her teammates couldn't make up for the scoring absence. Stanford shot a season-low 31.9 percent from the field and no one on the team shot 50 percent from the field.

“I think that sometimes it's almost like your strength is your weakness. We go inside to Chiney, and she delivered for us so well. But we have to have other people stepping up or being offensive contributors,” VanDerveer said. “The last maybe month or so we've been really stagnant offensively and we need to really fix that.”

Still, Stanford had a chance to tie when the deficit was 71-68. But Ogwumike was forced to take a deep three-point attempt and missed with one second left.

“I missed a couple of shots. I was still being aggressive,” Ogwumike said. “I honestly don't think there was a change. We just need to finish better.”