Bears Come From 10 Down in Second Half to Defeat USC, 61-55

Feb. 3, 2001

LOS ANGELES - California rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat USC, 61-55, Friday night at the Lyon Center. The Bears improved to 7-11 overall (3-5 Pac-10), while USC fell to 8-10 (3-5 Pac-10). The win was the Bears first at USC since the 1989-90 season and first victory of the season after trailing at the half.

'I thought our zone made a difference in the game,' said Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer, whose team held USC to an opponent season-low 29.5 percent field goal percentage. 'Then, they started to execute fairly well. We then started to change defenses a little bit. Our players picked it up when they needed to, which was really important for us because we've been in a few close games and have not played well in the last five minutes of the game. We talked in a couple timeouts that we've been in this situation. We've practiced it. We're comfortable with it. Let's go win the game.'

The Bears shot 45.1 percent from the floor and had three players in double-figure points. Senior guard Courtney Johnson led the way with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and three steals. Junior center Ami Forney posted her second-consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Kenya Corley added 14 points.

California jumped out to a 17-6 lead with 8:29 until halftime behind seven points from Forney. USC then went on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 21-21 with 4:03 until the break. A three-pointer by Berkeley High's Aisha Hollans with one second on the clock gave the Trojans a 29-23 lead at the half.

Five minutes into the second half, Cal tied the game at 33-33 with five different Golden Bears scoring. After that, the Bears offense went cold. Behind three-pointers from Jessica Cheeks and Aisha Hollans, the Trojans built their lead to 47-37 with 8:49 left in the game.

Bolstered by a stifling half court trap, Cal went on a 24-8 run to end the game, and held USC to four free throws over the last 5:51. Corley had an 8-4 run on her own over USC to cut the lead to six (51-45) with 5:30 to go. A layup by Johnson at the 3:28 mark pulled the Bears even at 53-53, and a layup by Latsha O'Keith gave Cal a 55-53 edge with 2:42 to play. Hollans then made two free throws to pull her team even for the last time and closed out her team's scoring with 2:13 left. After USC's Carmen Crause fouled Amber White at 1:54, White, a 42 percent free throw shooter, drained both of her free throws to put the Bears up for good just as she did in Cal's win at San Jose State earlier this year. Johnson sealed the game for Cal with a layup and two free throws.

Hollans paced USC with 14 points off the bench. Ebony Hoffman, who fouled out with 4:09 to play, was the only other player in double figures with 10.

Cal looks for its first ever sweep in Los Angeles of USC and UCLA Sunday when the Bears meet the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion at 3 p.m.

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