No. 4 Cal Edges USC Women 66-64

Feb. 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team took No. 4 California down to the wire once again, but came up with another tight loss, falling 66-64 to the Bears at the Galen Center on Friday night. USC out-shot the Bears down the stretch in a 45-percent shooting night compared to a 39-percent effort by the Bears. But Cal won out with trips to the free-throw line, and held off a late-game push by the Trojans. USC had three players finish in doubles figures, with 13 from Nadia Parker, 12 from Camille LeNoir and 10 from Hailey Dunham, while Cal got a game-high 22 from Alexis Gray-Lawson. USC moves to 14-12 overall and 8-7 in Pac-10 play. Cal improves to 23-2, 14-1.

Cal's Gray-Lawson was 4-for-4 from 3-point range out of the gates for the Bears and had 16 points by halftime, but USC countered Cal's hot hands from outside the arc with a more effective outing from the floor in the half. USC was shooting 44 percent and took a late one-point lead into halftime, while hit six threes but was 31 percent from the floor. USC was effective in keeping Cal's dangerous posts from doing much damage, holding Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton to just eight points combined form the floor. But Walker go to double figures thanks to a pile of trips to the free-throw line. Cal took 29 free throws in the game, compared to 11 by the Trojans. The Bears finished the game shooting 39 percent from the floor and was 19-of-29 from the free-throw line. USC shot 45 percent from the floor and hit 10-of-11 free throws.

USC got the first bucket of the night with a Nadia Parker score in the paint. From there, each Trojan basket seemed to be followed by a 3-pointer from the Bears, as Cal made a move from a two-point lead to a 21-14 advantage with 8:45 on the clock. Cal's Alexis Gray-Lawson was hitting at a 6-of-7 clip, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range to hold 16 points during that stretch. USC answered two Cal free throws with scores from Parker and LaPlante in the paint wrapped around a Briana Gilbreath free throw to make it 23-19 Cal at 3:55. Camille LeNoir drained a three soon after, and the Trojans were within one with 2:10 to go in the half. After trading threes - one from Cal and one from Heather Oliver - USC went back on the attack, and Hailey Dunham nailed a baseline jumper to get USC its first lead since the first possession of the game, up 27-26 for halftime.

Cal free throws and another two Bear 3-pointers helped Cal get back into the lead early in the second half, up 40-31 with 17:00 on the clock. Oliver put a stop to a 5-0 Cal run with a jumper off an Ashley Corral assist, only to have the Bears make another 5-0 spurt for a 44-33 lead at 13:30. Corral blasted a long-range three to make it 44-36, and Hailey Dunham later became the first Trojan to hit double figures with a jumper that made it 50-41 at 10:45. Cal was granted yet another trip to the free-throw line at 9:13, hitting both, but USC manufactured a 7-0 run next to cut Cal's lead to four with 7:00 on the clock. Brynn Cameron put away a three, then sank two free throws. Corral nabbed a steal, and Kari LaPlante made a strong move and finish in the paint to make it 52-48. USC turnovers stalled things out for the next couple minutes as Cal got up 58-50 thanks in part to its ninth three of the night. After some Parker points in the paint, USC saw Cal's Devanei Hampton foul out with 2:24 on the clock. LeNoir iced both, and USC was back within four, down 60-56. After a single free throw made by Cal, LeNoir drained a big three, cutting it to 61-59 with 2:00 to go. Ashley Walker got back to the line next for Cal and got both to go at 1:25, but Oliver knocked down a three from the corner at 1:07 to make it a 1-point game. Some tough USC defense forced a Cal timeout with 11 seconds on the shot clock and 47.8 ticks on the game clock. The Bears got a shot, and wrangled the offensive rebound, and Gray-Lawson was awarded a trip to the line with 15.3 seconds to go. She hit both, putting Cal up 65-62, but Parker scored quickly down low to make it 65-64 Cal with 7.7 seconds left in regulation. A foul rather than a jump-ball call by the referee put Gray-Lawson back on the line with 5 seconds to go. She got the second for a 66-64 lead, and USC was unable to come up with an answering shot before the final buzzer.

USC's next competition at the Galen Center comes this Sunday (March 1) with a clash against No. 2 Stanford at 12 p.m. The Trojans will honor their four seniors - Nicole Berberet, Brynn Cameron, Camille LeNoir and Nadia Parker - in a pregame ceremony on Sunday.

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