Bears Win A Thriller
LOS ANGELES – With the game tied and less than 30 seconds remaining, the Cal women's basketball team got a tremendous defensive stop, but the wild finish didn't stop there. With under four seconds left in the contest, Leilani McIntosh hit a game-winning 3-point field goal in front of the Bears' bench to give Cal a dramatic 62-59 win over USC at the Galen Center on Friday night.
Cal (10-5, 1-3 Pac-12) puts its difficult January in the rearview mirror with the team's first win since December 21. It is the Bears' first conference road victory since Cal upset No. 13 Arizona 55-54 on March 1, 2020.
Jayda Curry led the Bears in scoring with 21 points - 19 coming after the intermission. She finished the evening 5-for-19 from the field and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc but was a stellar 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. After starting 1-for-7 from the field, Curry finished the game 4-for-12 and was 2-for-6 from 3-point range. McIntosh was the only other player to join her in double figures, she finished with a season-high 15 points, going 6-for-11 from the field and 2-for-4 from deep.
The Bears shot 32.3 percent from the field going 20-for-62, including a 6-for-20 performance from three. However, it wasn't the offense that carried Cal to the victory. It was stingy defense and a refusal to give in.
USC (9-10, 2-7 Pac-12) was led by Jordyn Jenkins' game-high 26 points. Jenkins was 10-for-19 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line. USC finished the evening 11-for-16 from the charity stripe but was just 22-for-61 from the field. Alissa Pili and Rayah Marshall finished with 10 points each to join Jenkins in double figures.
On the glass, Cal outrebounded USC 41-40. The Bears finished the evening with 14 offensive boards that led to just four second-chance points. USC was much better in that category. The Trojan's 12 offensive rebounds led to 18 second-chance points.
Turnovers also played a huge factor. USC committed 13 turnovers that led to nine points for the Bears. Cal finished the night with just 11 turnovers and limited the Trojans to four points off those turnovers.
The back and forth battle featured 10 ties and five lead changes, however, the Bears led for most of the contest. USC scored the game's opening bucket but Cal ended up leading the game for over 34 minutes. USC led for just 1:08.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Cal took control early thanks to a 7-0 run on the back of McIntosh who scored five quick points. The Bear's defense was suffocating in the first period and helped keep Cal out front despite shooting just 5-for-20 from the field.
A quick transition three in the far corner by Jazlen Green had the Bears out front 17-11 at the end of the first period. McIntosh led the Bears with eight points that quarter. Green finished with seven points on the evening and played over 28 minutes, her most since she played 24 against Cal Poly on December 18.
In the second quarter, a 7-0 run by the Trojans briefly gave USC an 18-17 lead. A pair of free throws by Ugonne (Michelle) Onyiah and a jumper by Lutje Schipholt had Cal back out front. Cal closed out the quarter and the half with the lead thanks to a trio of layups, two by McIntosh and one by Curry. Green hit one of three free throws prior to the half and the Bears went into the locker leading 28-25.
Lutje Schipholt finished the night with eight points and nine rebounds along with three blocks and two steals. Onyiah had six points, five rebounds and a block in just over 16 minutes of action.
The Bears had a 28-25 lead at the intermission and opened the third with a three from Green. With 2:27 to play in the third, the Trojans tied it up on a layup by Rayah Marshall that beat the shot clock. It was part of a 6-0 run that was aided by a scoring drought by the Bears that saw them going 0-for-5 from the floor.
But as they did all evening, the Bears responded. Out of the timeout called by Cal an offensive board and a putback by Fatou Samb gave the Bears back the lead. With 9:34 in the fourth quarter, a layup by Onyiah gave the Bears a seven-point cushion, their largest lead of the evening.
From there the excitement began. The Trojans went on an 8-0 run late and took the lead with 41 seconds remaining thanks to a second-chance basket by Jenkins. Cal once again utilized their timeout beautifully, running a play for Curry who was fouled driving to the lane. The freshman calmly hit both free throws to tie the game at 58 and set the contest up for the final dramatics.
Cal returns to action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Pauley Pavilion to take on UCLA. Sunday's game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and will tip-off at Noon.