Cal Pushes Past USC For 61-55 Win
Feb. 4, 2010
BERKELEY, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team took a tough road loss at California on Thursday night, falling behind in the second half and coming up well short on the boards in a 61-55 loss to the Bears. The bright spot in the game for the Women of Troy, however, was the appearance of Jacki Gemelos on the floor. Gemelos had been sidelined by knee injuries since arriving at USC as the nation's top recruit as a freshman in 2006, making tonight's game action the first of her collegiate career. In 28 minutes on the floor, Gemelos led all players with five assists on the night. USC now goes to 13-8 overall and is 7-3 in Pac-10 play, while Cal improves to 12-9, 6-4.
Both teams were shut out from 3-point range in the first half, but the Trojans were able to counter with a more effective effort from the floor overall. Briana Gilbreath had 10 points for USC by halftime, as USC shot 45 percent from the field and was up 28-23 at the half. Cal was shooting 37 percent from the floor to that point. The 3-point silence was broken at the 14:40 mark of the second half, as USC's Jacki Gemelos nailed her first career 3-pointer. She would finish with eight points, five rebounds and five assists in her USC debut. Ashley Corral led USC in scoring on the night with 16 points, with Briana Gilbreath adding 12. Cal's Layshia Clarendon led all scorers with 18 points, and DeNesha Stallworth had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Cal's winning push came in the second half with a determined effort on the boards that had the Trojans reeling as the Bears made their move into the lead to stay. Cal finished out the game outrebounding USC 49-30 - including 23 offensive rebounds by Cal. USC was ahead on offense, shooting 39 percent, ahead of Cal's 37 percent, but the Bears made good on a powerful number of putbacks, netting 31 second-chance points to 11 by the Trojans.
After five minutes on the floor, Gemelos had her first USC assist, rebound and basket on a jumper that got USC ahead 12-6 for what would be the Trojans' largest lead of the half. Cal would tie it up 16-16 on back-to-back buckets from DeNesha Stallworth at 9:35, but Briana Gilbreath pumped in a pair of her own next to get the Trojans back ahead. Cal got within one on a three-point play later, but USC shrugged off its trouble behind the arc and stayed a step ahead of the Bears thanks to jumpers and takes to the hole. A Cal shot clock violation with 30 seconds left preserved USC's three-point lead, and Daniela Roark would bump the Women of Troy ahead 28-23 for halftime with a score with 8 seconds left in the half.
Although USC's early second-half shot attempts rattled in and out, USC answered a Cal putback with a pair of Hailey Dunham jumpers for a seven-point lead at 16:45, up 32-25.The Bears crept back to within one, but Gemelos knocked down her first three as a Trojan to give USC a boost. Cal hit one next, but Heather Oliver ran down an offensive board and then blasted another three for the Trojans for a 40-34 lead at 12:40. Cal got its first lead of the game with an 8-0 run that carried the Bears up 44-42 with 9:30 on the clock. A Gemelos bucket pushed USC ahead by one later, but the Bears mounted another push and got up on the Trojans 51-46 with 4:37 to go on a three-point play by Alexis Gray-Lawson. USC's 3-point tries in the answering stretch were just off the mark, while Cal continued to hold the advantage on the boards , snagging key offensive rebounds to steal time away from the Trojans. Corral knocked down her first three with 37 seconds left to make it a 57-52 USC deficit, and Cal turned the ball over on its ensuing inbounds to give USC the possession. Corral buried another one to cut it to a two-point game with 34 seconds to go. Cal's Leyshia Clarendon hit the first of her free throws next, and the Bears snagged the board as Natasha Vital went to the line next for Cal with 26.9 ticks to go. She hit the first as well, and again Cal came down with the rebound for another trip to the line. This time Gray-Lawson hit both ends to make it 61-55 Cal with 21 seconds left, and the Trojans were out of reach of comeback hopes, left with the road loss in Berkeley.
USC now turns to face No. 2 Stanford in a 1 p.m. televised game on Sunday (Feb. 7) in Palo Alto, Calif.