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No. 18 Cal Looks to Solidify a First Round Bye at USC

Feb 22, 2014

Game #27
No. 18/19 California (19-7, 11-4) at USC (16-11, 9-6)
Galen Center • Los Angeles, Calif.
Sunday, Feb.23 • 12 p.m. PT
Series Record: USC leads, 37-26
Last: USC 77, Cal 70 (Jan. 24, 2014 in Berkeley)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Krista Blunk pxp, Mary Murphy analyst)

BERKELEY – All of Sunday’s Pac-12 games have tournament seeding consequences on the line, none more so than No. 18/19 California’s rematch game at USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. A win by the second-place Bears combined with a Washington loss against Oregon State will secure a first round bye for the Golden Bears at the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament.

Tip-off between the Bears (19-7, 11-4 Pac-12) and Trojans (16-11, 9-6 Pac-12) is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT and will air live on the Pac-12 Networks with Krista Blunk (play-by-play) and Mary Murphy (analyst) on the call.

California defeated UCLA 77-72 Friday night while USC dropped a 64-59 game against No. 4 Stanford despite leading by as many as 19 points in the game. In the first meeting between the Bears and Trojans, USC took a 77-70 win in Berkeley behind Ariya Crook’s 34 points. Since the 2005-06 season, the Golden Bears have won 13 out of 18 games against the Trojans, but USC holds a 37-26 series advantage thanks to an 11-game streak over Cal from 1993-1998.

A CALIFORNIA WIN OVER USC WOULD:
* Keep California second in the Pac-12 standings at 12-4
* Mark win No. 77 in Gottlieb’s nearly three-year tenure - one shy of the program-best 78 wins over a three-year stretch (by Joanne Boyle from 2007-10)
* Improve Lindsay Gottlieb to 4-3 against USC as the head coach of California.
* Move Lindsay Gottlieb to 10-11 against California-based Pac-12 schools in her tenure.
* Mark Lindsay Gottlieb 77th win in 98 games as the head coach at California (.786)

A LOOK AT USC (16-11, 9-6 Pac-12): Since starting conference play with a 7-1 record, the Trojans have dropped five of their last seven games since the 77-70 upset at Berkeley to sit 9-6 in conference play. Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook lead the Trojans with 16.4 and 16.0 points per game, respectively.

California-USC Series History: USC leads the all-time series 37-26, but the Bears have won 13 out of the last 18 meetings between the two teams. Lindsay Gottlieb is 3-3 against the Trojans; this is Cynthia Cooper’s second meeting against Cal as the head coach of USC. The Bears took a 3-0 sweep over USC last season with wins in Berkeley (71-63 OT), Los Angeles (72-64) and Seattle (78-59).

LAST MEETING (USC 77, California 70): Brittany Boyd was one assist shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds  and 9 assists, and Afure Jemerigbe matched her career-high with 17 points, but USC was able to rally and take a 77-70 win at Haas Pavilion. Gennifer Brandon added a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

GOTTLIEB VS THE PAC-12: California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb has solidified her mark as one of the sport’s brightest young coaches since taking over the California women’s basketball program prior to the 2011-12 season. Gottlieb is 35-1 against Pac-12 schools not from the state of California and is 9-11 against California-based Pac-12 schools in regular season and postseason action.

FROM RANGE: Freshman Courtney Range had a breakout game against UCLA Friday night, hitting three 3’s and going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in the game. Heading into the game, Range had made just 1 of her first 21 career three-point attempts. The stroke seems to be coming on for the freshman. After beginning the season missing her first 18 attempts, Range is 4-of-8 in Cal’s last three games from beyond the arc. 

BRANDON BACK TO FORM: Senior Gennifer Brandon returned to action against Oregon after missing 10 games since playing nine minutes against then-No. 2 Duke on Nov. 10. Despite two months out of game action, Brandon scored nine points with eight rebounds in 22 minutes - in the process becoming the 24th Golden Bear to score 1,000 career points. After shaking off the two-months off rust, Brandon has returned to her All-American form beginning with Cal’s game against USC on Jan. 24. In California’s nine games since Brandon reclaimed her All-American form, the senior is averaging 10.6 points and 10.8 rebounds while shooting .432 from the field.