STANFORD, Calif.- Aaron Bright embraces being in the spotlight during crucial moments of a game. His teammates enjoy it too.
Bright scored seven of his game-high 16 points in the final 4:43 of play to help Stanford beat USC 51-43 on Saturday.
"It makes me feel confident when coach calls my number late in the game," Bright said.
Josh Owens added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal (12-2, 2-0 Pac-12), which ended a three-game losing streak to the Trojans.
"He's a great player for us," Owens said. "He stepped up and did his job. He's always in the gym working and he makes those shots in practice."
Alexis Moore scored 12 points to lead the Trojans (5-10, 0-2 Pac-12), who lost their third straight and five of six overall.
"I'm shocked that a team as young as ours is as good as they are defensively," Trojans head coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We get to the foul line and we shoot a low percentage. We lose close games over and over. It's a shame that we play as hard as we play all year and not be rewarded with some wins."
The Cardinal led by 11 with 14:25 remaining before the Trojans whittled it to a 3-point deficit nine minutes later.
"That's one of the best defensive teams we've faced," Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "And that was one of our best defensive efforts."
Bright hit a long 2-point jump shot and a 3-pointer within a 38-second period to give Stanford a 49-41 advantage with under four minutes to play.
"He stepped up during key times in the second half," Dawkins said. "He keeps getting better and better."
After trailing by eight early, Stanford bounced back to take a 31-25 lead at halftime.
"They got off to a big start and our kids dug down and played great defense after that," Dawkins said.
The Trojans missed seven of their first 10 shots of the second half, but remained within striking distance thanks in part to their aggressive defense.
USC nearly erased all of a 16-point deficit in Thursday's loss at California, using defense as its spark.
"This is painful to go through right now, but that's life," O'Neill said. "We're right there in every game. We could play a bunch of midgets or the New York Knicks to a one-possession game. We're just not winning games."
The Trojans harassed Stanford into 10 second-half turnovers and a season low for points. USC has not allowed a team more than 66 points on the year and is on track to match the 1948 team for most consecutive games holding opponents under 66 points.
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Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins
"What can I say, I thought they were one of the best defensive teams we've faced. They did a great job all night long to be in the right places. Their kids played well defensively, and I thought our kids did too. I thought it was one of our best defensive efforts, especially with the way we started the game off. They got off to a quick start and our kids really dug down and defended well for the remainder of the game."
On holding point guard Maurice Jones to 1-12 from the field...
"[UCLA's] Lazeric Jones had a terrific night against us, and we take pride in how we defend. I thought our guys defended tonight against a really good point guard. We were able to stay more attached to him, we were more focused for 40 minutes against him, and I'm really proud of our effort because we had multiple guys to defend him, and I thought they did a really good job."
On Aaron Bright's performance...
"I think he likes winning. And so, with most young guys, he's going to do what he can do to help and that's something that he can do, whether it's stepping up and making a big shot -- which he's done several times -- or just going to the free throw line, which he's done for us too. I've been very proud of his level of maturity and his poise."
On having to battle every night...
"Absolutely, that's what you expect in conference play. There are no secrets in the conference, everyone knows everyone else, so unless you have just a bad, bad night it's going to be competitive like this every game. So you have to embrace that and go out there and be ready to compete for 40 minutes."
Stanford senior forward/center Josh Owens
On grinding out a close win...
"It was definitely a game where we had to grind. I mean, USC is a great defensive team. We consider ourselves a great defensive team so you have two defensive teams going up against each other, so it's not always going to be pretty, it's not always going to be a high-scoring game but sometimes you've got to grind it out."
On Aaron Bright's team-leading 16 points...
"Aaron's a great player for us, and there was a crucial part of the game where we were trying to create separation and we called his number on plays back-to-back. We got him open, we got him a look, and he did his part and knocked the shots down. He's always in the gym working and he hits those shots in practice. He knows what's expected of him so it was just great play on his part."
Stanford sophomore guard Aaron Bright
On scoring the game's final seven points...
"We were having a hard time scoring there for a while. Coming out of a timeout I had the ball and I saw J.O. and we ran a play. It kind of got me going a little bit and we got the win."
On his personal room for improvement...
"That's probably my biggest flaw right now, that I'm not making the right plays when I'm driving and the defense collapses. I'm not making the kicks right now, I'm kind of doing dumb stuff with the ball a little bit. So I just need to clean that up, look at film and see when guys are open."
USC head coach Kevin O'Neill:
"I think Johnny's done a hell of a job with the program. I like their tenacity, I like how they execute. To me, I think they're a legitimate contender in the league. They and Cal are both legitimate condensers. To win the league championship, it depends upon how you play away from home. That's always a test for everybody."
You called a timeout at 14:25 of the second half with your team down 40-29. USC then went on a 9-2 run to get to within 42-38. What did you tell the team?
"I might just say I had a special speech for that situation, but I didn't. What I did say was that we need to get ourselves back into the game and within striking distance and keep playing. I couldn't be more proud of the way our guys have played up here in terms of effort, rebounding, defensively. I'm shocked that a team as young as ours is as good as they are defensively. We get to the foul line and we shoot a low percentage. We lose close games over and over. It's a shame that we play as hard as we play all year and not be rewarded with some wins."