Freshman Sophia Popov’s victory helped the No. 3 USC Women’s golf team make up for the absence of three-time All-American junior Lizette Salas.Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the team to keep up.Despite Popov’s first-place performance, the Women of Troy finished third in a field of 21 teams at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.Popov, fresh off pacing the German national team at the World Amateur in Argentina, fired a six-under-par 207 (72-68-67).“I was really relaxed out there and I hit the ball really well,” Popov said.She had her best round last, which helped the team climb the leader board during the rain-delayed final round. Five birdies and only one bogey helped Popov move from fifth the first place, giving the freshman her first collegiate victory on Sunday.UCLA won the tournament at six-over-par 856 (285-281-290), 11 strokes above No. 1 Alabama at 15-over 867 (289-286-292) and 19 strokes ahead of USC at 875 (294-291-290). The Women of Troy were as low as 10th going into the final round, but a strong final day boosted them to a fourth-consecutive top-three finish for the fall season.USC coach Andrea Gaston said she was pleased with the final day.“I know we left a lot of shots and a lot of putts out there, but it’s nice to make a huge move,” Gaston said. “Being back in 10th place and ending up in third is a huge move.”Joining Popov in the top 10 was junior Lisa McCloskey. McCloskey tied for 10th at three-over 216 (69-73-74), continuing her streak of top-10 finishes. Tenth place is her lowest finish since arriving at USC for this season. The two-time All-American, who represented Columbia at the World Amateur in October, was on the front nine in her final round, but couldn’t overcome a double bogey on her way to a three-over-par final nine.Sophomore Cyna Rodriguez tied for 24th at nine-over-par 222 (76-73-73). Her final round of four birdies was undone by four bogeys and a double bogeys, though a final round 73 was good enough to bring her from 45th place to 24th on the final day.Junior Inah Park tied for 79th with a consistent tournament at 21-over-par 234 (77-79-78). A double bogey on her second hole was compounded by seven bogeys with only two birdies on the final day.Freshman Rachel Morris rounded out the Women of Troy in 89th place at 23-over-par 236 (83-77-76). Her best round, on Sunday, suffered from a stretch of five bogeys in six holes.The team played without Salas for the first time this season, presenting an interesting opportunity for the team to examine its depth. A third-place finish without Salas is encouraging, according to Gaston.Beyond naming a team and individual winner, the tournament sought to pit the two most powerful conferences in women’s golf against each other, a concept East and West Coast fans have long dreamed about in college football. The Pac-10 took the title with teams finishing first, third, fourth and tied for sixth.USC has finished its fall season, and now has until Feb. 14 before playing in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at the Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif. Until then, the team will work to improve their chances of getting its first victory of the season.“I’ll try to get ready for spring season, because that one matters more,” Popov said.