Tara VanDerveer wanted to send a message to her women's basketball team. She did not want them to accept the way they preformed in Arizona last weekend, so she started Erica Payne and Jasmine Camp against visiting USC on Friday night.
The message got through as the 19th-ranked Cardinal took care of business, beating the Trojans, 79-60, in a Pac-12 contest.
It was Stanford's 16th win over USC in their past 17 meetings.
"In some ways this was our most important game of the year," VanDerveer said. "We had to come back and reestablish ourselves. We were aggressive, we gave a lot of effort, improved our communication, rebounded and had four players in double figures."
Simply put, Payne and Camp started because VanDerveer was embarrassed by what she saw from Stanford in two losses last weekend that shook up the conference standing a little bit.
"I could totally depend on them to talk on the floor and give absolute A-1 effort," VanDerveer said. "We had some communication issues down in Arizona."
Camp and Payne each received their second career starts and their first since both started against Santa Clara on Nov. 11, 2012 as Stanford avoided its first three-game losing streak in 14 years.
"First and foremost I'm happy for the girls who get to start or get playing time," said Stanford guard Lili Thompson, who came off the bench for the first time this year. "Every week is a learning process."
Thompson led the Cardinal with 14 points. Amber Orrange and Briana Roberson each added 13 points. Bonnie Samuelson scored 12 points and led the team with six rebounds.
"This whole week we were focused on one, effort, two, communication and three, rebounding," Samuelson said. "We wanted to bounce back because we were disappointed in what we did in Arizona."
Stanford (10-3 Pac-12, 18-7 overall) hopes to continue working its way back up the standings against UCLA at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
"I want to play people who give a great effort and who value playing time," VanDerveer said. "The Arizona game, our defense looked like it was sleep-walking. There was no sense of urgency. It was embarrassing. The message was sent. People heard it. We'll move on from here."
Payne and Camp scored Stanford's first two baskets and Payne recorded two steals in the first five minutes. Hitting the re-set button turned into a good decision.
"We did not want to come out and play timid," Thompson said. "We weren't going to play not to lose. We wanted to be aggressive."
Thompson has a little something to prove when the Cardinal takes on the Bruins. She was 0 for 6 from the field and 1 of 2 from the foul line when the teams met in Los Angeles last month.
Stanford, which led 38-27 at the half, allowed USC to climb within five points in the early going of the second half. Samuelson hit a 3-pointer and Thompson connected on a pair of baskets to help the Cardinal work its lead to double figures again and Stanford stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way.