No. 6 Cal women beat USC 72-64

Despite struggling for the past month, Southern Cal coach

Michael Cooper still has faith in his squad.

The Trojans dropped their sixth straight game falling to No. 6

Cal 72-64 on Sunday. A month ago the USC women’s basketball team

forced California into overtime before losing a heart breaker.

”I feel good about our team,” said Cooper. ”We’re not out of

it. We have the tournament coming up and it’s probably going to

take us playing four straight nights but we’ll be up to it. I feel

good that our team is moving the right direction, but we’re not

completing games. We have to work hard defense for 40

minutes.”

The Trojans trailed 53-40 with 10:12 to play, but rallied within

four on Cassie Harberts’ basket with 1:54 to play. California made

seven crucial free throws down the stretch to hold and win.

Harberts, who made only 4 of 17 shots, led the USC with 20

points. She converted 12 of 14 free throws, had seven rebounds and

four steals and played the entire game.

”I’ve been here three years and I know how Cal is going to try

and beat you down,” said Harberts. ”I think we held our

own.”

Ariya Crook had a strong game as she scored 15 points and 5

rebounds and four assists.

”We tried to catch up by using our pressure,” said Crook, who

made 5 of 10 shots. ”We took advantage and scored after creating

turnovers.”

”This team (Cal) is an inside team,” said Cooper. ”We had to

stay close to them so they wouldn’t kill us on the boards.”

Layshia Clarendon scored 22 points and Brittany Boyd added 16 to

lead the Golden Bears, which has won 11 straight and completed is

first sweep in Los Angles since 2007-08 season.

California (23-2, 13-1) remains tied for first-place in

conference with Stanford, which defeated UCLA on Sunday. The Golden

Bears, which defeated UCLA on Friday, has four Pac 12 games

remaining.

”I’m proud of our players,” said Golden Bears coach Lindsay

Gottlieb. ”It wasn’t easy but to come away with a sweep in LA is a

big deal. We played through the pressure and the difficult calls

down the stretch. This group is so focused and versatile,

especially on the road.”

USC (8-17, 5-9) lost its sixth straight, equaling its longest

losing streak of the season.

Gennifer Brandon and Boyd made four free throws in the final 40

seconds to foil USC’s comeback.

By the virtue of their triumph the Golden Bears is guaranteed a

first round bye in the Pac 12 Tournament. California also owns the

longest current winning streak in the conference.

The Golden Bears have not lost a game since dropping a 62-53

decision to Stanford on January 8th.

Afure Jemerigbe scored 11 points and Brandon pulled down 10

rebounds for the Golden Bears, which outrebounded he Trojans 46-35

in the game.

The Trojans shot 36.1 percent (22-61) in the game and were

outrebounded 46-35. USC missed 12 free throws but forced 16

turnovers.

Christina Marinaccci scored 9 points and had 7 rebounds and

Deanna Calhoun also hauled down 6 rebounds for the Trojans. Alexyz

Vaioletama dished out six assists for USC.

The Golden Bears led 38-29 at halftime.

Members of the USC women’s championship basketball teams from

1983 and 1984 were honored during a halftime ceremony. Two

championship banners were unveiled in the rafters at Galen Center

in their honor. The Trojans wore pink jerseys in support of breast

cancer.