Golden Bears Bounce USC, 84-82

Feb 22, 2003

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - This time, California escaped another close game with a victory.

Joe Shipp scored 29 points and the No. 18 Golden Bears held Southern California to one point in the final 1:51 to beat the Trojans 84-82 Saturday night.

The Bears (19-5) remained in a second-place tie with Stanford at 12-3 in the Pac-10 standings and won their fourth straight over the Trojans, who were outscored 8-1 down the stretch.

'That wasn't an easy game for us. I don't know if USC could have played any better,' Cal coach Ben Braun said. 'It was a track meet out there, as it always seems to be when we play down here.'

The Bears salvaged a split on their trip to Los Angeles after losing in overtime at UCLA on Thursday night.

'It was crucial for us, we couldn't come down here and lose two games,' Shipp said.

Shipp, the Pac-10's leading scorer, made just one free throw in the final 10� minutes, but it kept Cal ahead 84-82 with 5 seconds remaining.

After Shipp missed the second free throw, Desmon Farmer dribbled down the floor, but fell and didn't get a shot off before the final buzzer. It was his second costly mistake in the final 53 seconds.

'You got to get a shot off. That's the key,' USC coach Henry Bibby said. 'I guess this hurts more than any because you are up and you are playing well and you are playing defense with them and you are getting the offense.'

Bibby said the last play called for Derrick Craven to get the ball, push it up the floor, and drive to the basket for a tying layup or kick it out.

'They picked me up quickly and Gregg (Guenther) outletted to Des,' Craven said. 'I just know he fell and there went the game.'

Cal's Conor Famulener tied it at 81 on a 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Farmer lost the ball in a scramble on the floor and Brian Wethers got fouled at the other end. He sank both to put Cal ahead 83-81 with 15 seconds left.

'They were big turnovers, cost us the game,' Bibby said. 'It was more mental breakdowns than anything.'

Wethers added 24 points and Tamir finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Trojans blew a five-point lead with two minutes remaining. They scored four straight to lead 81-76, but Amit Tamir hit two free throws before Famulener made only his second field goal for the tie.

'It was crucial for us, we couldn't come down here and lose two games.'

Derrick Craven, who played all 40 minutes, got fouled by Tamir on a baseline drive with 7 seconds to go. He missed the first and after a timeout, made the second as USC trailed 83-82.

'I felt confident on both of them,' Craven said. 'It's just the way the ball rolls. That's why I was so upset when I missed it.'

Farmer scored 21 points for the Trojans (10-13, 5-9), who lost their fourth in a row. Shipp outdid him in a game featuring the Pac-10's top two leading scorers.

Cal led by eight early in the second half, which quickly became a back-and-forth game. The teams were tied five times and neither led by more than five over the final 16 minutes.

USC took its first lead of the half on a 3-pointer by Farmer in the middle of a 7-0 run that made it 65-61. Derrick Craven hit a 3-pointer to keep USC ahead 72-69 with 7:13 remaining.

Shipp scored Cal's final seven points of the first half to put the Bears ahead 46-39. The highlight of Shipp's 19 points in the half was a basket he made from a prone position on the floor with O'Neil over him. Shipp's 3-pointer tied Randy Duck for second on Cal's career list with 153.

USC backup point guard Robert Hutchinson, who's been bothered by a sprained ankle, wasn't at the game because of unspecified personal reasons, according to Bibby.

He said Hutchinson was at practice Saturday and there were no problems, but Bibby was vague about whether Hutchinson would return to the team Sunday.

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