Bears Finally Put Away By No. 7 USC
BERKELEY – The Cal men's basketball team kept Thursday's Pac-12 showdown against No. 7 USC close for most of the evening before the Trojans ultimately pulled away for a 77-63 victory at Haas Pavilion.
The Bears (9-6, 2-2 Pac-12) were still within striking distance at 59-53 with just over seven minutes remaining before USC went on a 11-2 run to take command.
"Credit to USC. They are a terrific team," Cal head coach Mark Fox said. "I was really impressed with their club. We just didn't play well enough to beat a top-10 team tonight."
Grant Anticevich led the Bears with 19 points while Andre Kelly registered his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Graduate student Jordan Shepherd added 17 points and Jalen Celestine had 10, his second double-digit performance in the past three games.
Cal point guard Joel Brown registered a career-high nine assists.
The Bears made a final late run, reeling off seven straight points to cut the Trojans' advantage to 70-62 with 1:54 remaining.
"Obviously, we're disappointed that we lost," Anticevich said. "We felt like we gave the game away. Credit to USC. They are a top-10 team for a reason. But we just made too many mistakes."
Cal and USC traded points early on, with the Bears leading 17-16 with 11:22 left in the first half. The Trojans led 36-31 at halftime.
USC got off to a hot start to the second half and built a 46-35 advantage with 14:29 to play. But a 13-6 run by the Bears cut the deficit to 52-48 mark with 10:16 remaining. Cal was still within 54-50 with 9:20 left before the Trojans pulled away once again.
"We made some positive plays," Fox said. "We just didn't threaten enough in the second half."
The Bears will return to action Saturday to face their second consecutive top-10 opponent when No. 5 UCLA visits Haas Pavilion at 5 p.m. The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks. It marks the first time since 1975 that Cal has played two top-10 opponents in the same week.