At this stage, Michael Cooper is working to position Southern California in the best possible spot for the Pac-12 tournament.
No upsets at Stanford, though. As is the case for most Cardinal opponents, the Women of Troy had no answers for the star Ogwumike sisters.
Chiney Ogwumike had 21 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots and No. 4 Stanford extended its school-record home winning streak at Maples Pavilion to 75 with a 69-52 win over Southern California on Thursday night.
Older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 22 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal (21-1, 12-0 Pac-12), who moved closer to a 12th straight regular-season conference crown with their 18th consecutive win overall since the team's lone loss Nov. 21 at third-ranked Connecticut.
"Those Ogwumikes look big and they look like an extra player out there with their wingspan in the zone," Cooper said.
Stanford won its 10th straight against USC and 20th of 21, and ran its unbeaten stretch against conference opponents to 69 in a row dating to Jan. 22, 2009.
Ashley Corral and Briana Gilbreath each scored 11 points to lead cold-shooting USC (12-11, 6-6), which hung tough early but couldn't keep up with the talented sister tandem or Stanford's depth.
"We're a little more shorthanded than other teams and we still know what's at stake, we're trying to find our spot for the Pac-12 tournament," Cooper said. "We're trying to bring the Women of Troy back to the days of 1983-84. We're making strides."
Nneka Ogwumike's three-point play at the 13:37 mark of the first half moved her past Jayne Appel (2,125) and into third place on Stanford's career scoring list behind Candice Wiggins (2,629) and Kate Starbird (2,215). Ogwumike has 2,143 points and soon should move into second place for Stanford, which reached the past four Final Fours but hasn't won it all since capturing the 1992 NCAA title.
Toni Kokenis provided 15 points, five assists and five rebounds while making good decisions running the offense for Stanford. The Cardinal followed up a 50.7-percent shooting performance in last Saturday's 91-51 victory at Arizona with a 48.9-percent showing — 60 percent in the second half.
"People are working really hard defensively — they concentrate on it, they focus on doing the right thing and they take a lot of pride in their defense," coach Tara VanDerveer said. "You don't have to send a memo to Chiney and Nneka and Toni."
After Stefanie Gilbreath's 3-pointer 4:13 into the game put USC ahead 7-6, Stanford answered with a 15-2 run to take control.
Cooper's Trojans — coming off a tough 67-61 home loss to Washington on Sunday — got five straight points from Corral to start the second half and pull USC within 33-27 but Stanford went back to work with a 9-2 burst.
Chiney Ogwumike made things tough for USC on both ends. She shot 7 for 9 and constantly got a hand up on defense.
"I was in the right place at the right time, honestly. If it's something that gets people going, I might as well do it," Ogwumike said. "If you're able to make a play, coach says be aggressive, and why not have fun and be aggressive?"
This was a much more lopsided meeting after Stanford won the first game between the schools 61-53 last month in the teams' Pac-12 opener, a matchup that was close most of the way before the Cardinal ended the game with a 15-5 run.
This time, Stanford committed only 11 turnovers, converted 23 of 33 free throws — VanDerveer wants better shooting at the line — and kept USC leading scorer Cassie Harberts in check with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting. Briana Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci grabbed seven rebounds apiece for USC, which shot 29.3 percent (17-58).
"Something we thought about before stepped on the court was don't give up no matter what," Briana Gilbreath said. "There are some good things we can take from this game."
It took Stanford several minutes to find a groove after beginning the game 2 for 7. The Cardinal were 2 for 10 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes and got outrebounded 20-19, yet still led 33-22 at the break.
USC got a scare 35.9 seconds before halftime when Corral, the team's third-leading scorer averaging 11.8 points, drove to the basket and was fouled and fell into a cameraman with her right eye into his knee. Corral quickly jumped up and proceeded to make both her free throws before falling down again just before the buzzer sounded.
"I'm a senior and I don't have time for (medical) tests," Corral said, insisting she was fine afterward.
Former major leaguer and current Colorado Rockies first base coach Glenallen Hill sat along one baseline with his daughter.