No. 22 USC Falls to Cal in Pac-10 Opener
Jan. 3, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Eric Vierneisel made consecutive 3-pointers to break open a one-point game midway through the second half and California spoiled O.J. Mayo's Pac-10 debut by beating No. 22 Southern California 92-82 on Thursday night.
Vierneisel was 6-for-35 on 3-pointers this season before hitting the two from long range that put Cal (10-2, 1-0) up 72-65 with 5:44 to go. That started a 15-3 run that carried the Golden Bears to their fourth win in 12 conference openers under coach Ben Braun.
Patrick Christopher led the way for Cal with 24 points. Jerome Randle added 16 and Vierneisel had a career-high 15. DeVon Hardin had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Anderson scored 15 points.
The game turned on the outside shooting of both teams. Cal had hit 26 3-pointers in its previous two wins over Long Beach State and North Dakota State, but the Bears didn't figure to have the same sort of success against a USC team that had held its last nine opponents to 62 points or fewer.
The Bears topped that before the midpoint of the second half and kept scoring, finishing with the most points against USC since Mercer had 96 in the season opener. The only teams that beat the Trojans since then were No. 2 Memphis and No. 3 Kansas.
Cal was 11-of-25 from long range for the game, hitting three straight at one point midway through the half to erase a USC lead. The Trojans missed 15 of 20 3-pointers for the game.
USC guard Angelo Johnson left the court briefly after hitting the ground hard when he was fouled by Harper Kamp after making a layup that gave the Trojans their first lead since midway through the first half at 55-53. Daniel Hackett made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
Jefferson, however, was called for a technical foul on the play for USC. Randle made both free throws to cut USC's lead to one with 11:28 remaining.
Randle, Anderson and Jordan Wilkes then hit 3-pointers on the next three possessions to put Cal back up by eight and complete an 11-0 run in a span of 1:12.
Cal scored nine straight points during a stretch in the first half to take a 31-21 lead. That's when Mayo picked it up offensively for the Trojans to keep them close. Mayo scored eight points in the final 4:34 of the half, including a pull-up jumper in the final seconds that cut the Bears' lead to 38-32.
Mayo was the only USC player to hit a basket in the final 8 minutes. The only other points the Trojans scored came on three free throws by Lewis after Hardin fouled him on a 3-point attempt in the final minute of the half.