STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Kevin O'Neill offered no excuses for this one, despite the many distractions for his Southern California team.
It's been quite a difficult week for the Trojans. They looked off from the start.
Jarrett Mann made one free throw with 10.6 seconds left and Stanford stopped several last-second chances on the defensive end to beat embattled USC 54-53 on Wednesday night and snap the Trojans' eight-game winning streak.
Dwight Lewis scored 22 points for USC (10-5, 2-1 Pac-10), which took the court three days after learning from its first-year coach that the university had imposed sanctions on the program for recruiting violations involving former star player O.J. Mayo. That includes a ban on postseason play this year and the Pac-10 tournament. Mayo allegedly received improper cash and gifts while at USC.
"For me the news had nothing to do with this game," O'Neill said. "It's unfathomable to me that we'd play like we did in the first half. For the first time all year I thought we had a total lack of effort in the first half."
In addition to the sanctions, 12th-year USC radio play-by-play voice Rory Markas died Monday at age 54. Markas, also a broadcaster for the Los Angeles Angels, called the Trojans' victory over Arizona State on Saturday. A moment of silence was held for Markas before tipoff.
Landry Fields had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Jeremy Green added 17 points for the Cardinal (7-7, 1-1), who bounced back from an embarrassing 92-66 blowout loss at rival California on Saturday to open conference play.
"It was very important. It was a tough loss for us at Cal," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "It's nice to win it on the final possession. We've had some tough ones."
Marcus Johnson's baseline jumper with 4:24 to play cut Stanford's lead to 47-43, but Green knocked down a 3-pointer from the baseline on the other end moments later. Mike Gerrity hit a 3 with 2:29 left to get USC within 50-46 and keep it interesting until the end.
Lewis scored with 45.1 seconds left on a long jumper and Zimmermann missed his third and fourth straight free throws in the final 1:10 to give USC another chance. Leonard Washington banked in a 3-pointer to tie the game with 32.6 seconds on the clock. Stanford called time-out with 26.8 seconds to play.
Washington quickly fouled Mann, who missed his first free throw before making the second. Gerrity missed a shot with 3 seconds left and Nikola Vucevic grabbed the offensive rebound and missed the putback.
Washington was in the scrum at the end and he lay on the ground afterward for several minutes, clearly shocked.
O'Neill said Washington was fine afterward.
Gerrity insists the team must move forward from this week's turmoil.
"We're not going to let it affect us," he said of the sanctions. "We're coming out and playing hard, and we just want to keep doing what we've been doing. There's nothing that can be gained from worrying about it."
Green scored five of his points over the final 3:48 and Andrew Zimmermann added 10 points for the Cardinal, who have won eight straight against USC at home dating to a 77-58 loss on Feb. 21, 2003.
The Trojans have an eight-game road losing streak that began with a 75-63 loss on Stanford's home court last Feb. 28. They are 0-3 this season.
Lewis scored seven straight points late in the first half and Alex Stepheson made a layin at the halftime buzzer to pull the Trojans within 31-28 at the break after trailing by as many as 12.
The Trojans have held opponents to 56 or fewer points in their last nine games. But this time, neither team shined and Stanford made more key plays in crunch time. The Cardinal held a 32-28 rebounding advantage and shot 45.8 percent.
"To hold a team to 54 percent at home, you should have a chance to win," O'Neill said. "We weren't very sharp."
USC came out sluggish and sloppy, missing four of its first five field-goal tries - three from close range - and committing two turnovers in the opening minutes. Stanford hit five of its first seven shots to take an 11-3 lead,
but Fields started 1 for 5.
Fields, averaging 23.2 points coming in, didn't shoot well again. He was 9 for 24 in the loss to Cal, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range, and 5 of 14 in this game. He was held without a field goal in the second half.
He was happy to have some help from his teammates.
"I thought, 'We're not losing this game, not this time,"' Fields said. "Our bigs really stepped up tonight. They played with poise and energy."