USC Women Edged 73-71 At No. 5 California

Jan. 31, 2009

BERKELEY, CALIF. - The USC women's basketball team battled through a down-to-the-wire matchup on No. 5 California's home court on Saturday afternoon, but came up just short thanks to a late layup with 2 seconds to go from the Bears. The Trojans wound up with a 73-71 road loss despite double-digit efforts from Briana Gilbreath, Camille LeNoir and Nadia Parker. Gilbreath tallied a double-double for the Women of Troy including a late-game steal that she took to tie things up with 18 seconds left. The loss moves USC to 11-9 overall and 5-4 in Pac-10 play, while California goes to 18-2, 9-0.

USC and Cal stayed neck-and-neck through much of the first half with both teams hitting at a 50-percent clip through the first 12 minutes. The Trojans cooled slightly, however, while the Bears knocked down some key threes as Cal took a 44-33 lead into halftime thanks to a 52-percent shooting effort compared to USC's 42 percent. USC would push back hard in the second half, however and work things into a tie with 18 seconds left. Cal got the last look and got a putback from Devanei Hampton with just two seconds to go to take the Bears to the lead at the final buzzer.

USC finished out the game shooting 37 percent while Cal wound up shooting 48 percent. With an improved effort on the boards from the previous game, USC held close to the Bears. Cal had the edge in the end 40-36 thanks to double-double efforts from Hampton (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Ashley Walker (21 points, 11 rebounds). USC's Gilbreath notched her second career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Trojans, who also got 19 from Camille LeNoir and 10 from Nadia Parker.

Camille LeNoir opened the game going 3-for-3 from the floor and dealt out a pair of assists as the lead traded hands five times. Ashley Corral keyed a go-ahead move by the Women of Troy when she nabbed a steal and went on to knock down a three that got USC up 20-19 at the 12-minute mark. The Bears would get a couple steals and get lucky from 3-point land with back-to-back threes later, as Cal went up 32-24 with 7:00 to go in the half. USC would cut back to within three soon after with a 7-0 run, only to see Trojan shots stop falling for a stretch while the Bears hit some tough shots to get out to a 44-31 lead with a minute remaining. Briana Gilbreath got one last USC ball to go to bring the freshman up to 11 points in the half and make it a 44-33 Cal lead going into the locker rooms.

LeNoir cut the Cal lead to under 10 with a take to the hole, and USC answered a three-point play from Devanei Hampton with a Nadia Parker score in the paint and two more good free throws from Gilbreath to make it 49-41 Cal three minutes into the second half. USC's next push came with some rapid-fire responses to Cal scores. After back-to-back scores from LeNoir, USC answered Bear baskets with quick threes from Ashley Corral, Oliver and LeNoir to bring the Trojans within two, down 58-56 just past the 10-minute mark. Six minutes later, Cal had taken just a small step ahead in the race, up 67-61, but USC ate into that with a free-throw from Gilbreath and a score in the paint from Parker off a LeNoir assist to get the score to 67-64 Cal with 2:55 on the clock. Again, USC responded with a clutch three after a Cal bucket. LeNoir drilled her third 3-pointer at 1:35 to cut it to two again at 69-67. In the final minute, Ashley Walker slipped scored to get Cal ahead 71-67, but 20 seconds later Aarika Hughes slipped in a score for the Trojans to cut it back to two. Gilbreath picked off a Bear pass next and took it the other way to tie things up 71-71 with 18 seconds left - the first time the teams had been tied since it was 22-22 with 9:00 to go in the first half. Cal was off on its first shot try with time running down, but Hampton was there for the putback with just 2.2 seconds left. USC was unable to get a look in the remaining time, and was left just short with a 73-71 road loss.

USC now returns home to host its crosstown showdown with UCLA. The Trojans take on the Bruins at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 8) at the Galen Center.

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