Feb. 11, 2012
BERKELEY - Junior guard Layshia Clarendon hit a buzzer-beating three to send the game to overtime, but the USC Trojans had a dramatic comeback of their own, erasing a seven-point OT deficit to defeat the California Golden Bears, 76-75.
The game was tight from the start. After the first seven lead changes and four ties, the Bears took a 22-19 lead on an and-one by junior guard Layshia Clarendon. The Bears immediately put on the full court press, which resulted in freshman forward Reshanda Gray grabbing a steal. Clarendon found redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon open in the low post for a 24-19 Cal advantage with six and a half left in the first half.
Brandon got a steal with just over two minutes to play in the half, racing down the court and laying in the ball to give Cal a seven point lead, 32-25, their largest of the period. The Trojans took advantage of two trips to the free throw line to narrow the gap to three, 32-29, going into the final 30 second of the period. Brandon hit a jumper with four seconds left on the clock to send Cal into the locker room with a 34-29 lead.
USC was not going to go away. They made it a one-point game, 36-35, on a jumper by Briana Gilbreath with 18:24 left in the game. Sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert gave the Bears some breathing room by immediately draining a three-pointer to push it out to 39-35.
The breathing room didn't last long as the Trojans came back to tie the game then take the lead, 44-43, on an and-one layup by Christina Marinacci with 11:12 remaining.
After Brandon twice tied the game, USC's Stephanie Gilbreath drained a three to give the Trojans a 53-50 lead with 5:40 left in the game.
Clarendon tied the game, 54-54, by hitting a runner in the lane with 3:39 remaining. The Trojans answered on the other end with a jumper. After the Trojans stole the ball, they shot another three to make it a 59-54 game.
After a pair of Cal buckets, the Bears trailed by one, 59-58, heading in the final minute and a half of the game. USC's Ariya Crook extended the lead back to three, 58-61 on a layup with 1:13. After both teams missed a shot in their next possession, Sherbert was fouled, going to the line to shoot two to try to cut the lead to one point. She missed both free throws and USC came up with the ball with 37 seconds left on the clock.
An immediate foul sent the Trojans to the line where they made one, putting Cal down 62-58. Brandon made a layup for the Bears with 26 seconds remaining. After an immediate foul, the Trojans made two free throws. Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd raced down the court, using all of two seconds on the clock to score a layup to make it a 64-62 game with 20 seconds remaining.
Boyd immediately committed a foul, sending the Trojans to the line and Boyd to the bench with a fifth-foul disqualification. After USC made one free throw, they held a 65-62 lead with 17 seconds on the clock.
The ball went out of bounds with six seconds remaining. Cal inbounded the ball and got it to Clarendon who got off a three-point shot just before the buzzer. The ball swooshed through the net, sending the game to overtime.
The Bears opened the OT on a 7-0 run, holding a 72-65 lead with 1:50 left on the clock. The Bears continued to lead by five, 75-70, with 57 seconds left in the game.
The Trojans' Ariya Crook got a jumper. The Bears turned the ball over while trying to inbound it after the score, leading to another jumper and a one-point game, 75-74, with 43 seconds left. Cal failed to score on their possession with Clarendon being called for an offensive foul with two seconds left on the shot clock and 18 on the game clock. USC's Crook hit a jumper right in front of the basket with five seconds left in the game. The Bears sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert threw up a desperation three right as the clock was expiring, but it failed to go in, giving USC the victory.
"This was a really heartbreaking way to lose a basketball game," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "I feel for our players in that they obviously laid everything out on the floor. I obviously credit USC for being really good. They are very talented. I think that more than any other game, we can look at ourselves and say that we didn't do the things that we needed to do to win the ballgame, and in some ways that makes it easier to take. We need to go back and say that we have to get better at the little things to take care of opponents. Some teams don't make you pay but USC made us pay. It was a great basketball game, I loved the crowd, loved the atmosphere. I think our team is getting battle tested and tournament tested, but the lesson that we need to learn from this one, once we take away the hurt and the emotions it needs to be a hard look at how we could have been better and how I didn't do enough and I credit USC for taking advantage of every single error that we made."
Gennifer Brandon had her eighth double double of the year with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Lindsay Sherbert hit three three-pointers, going 3-for-5 from long range, scoring 11 points. Layshia Clarendon hit just one three, the shot to send the game to overtime, but ended the contest with 12 points.
With the win, USC sweeps the season series against the Bears. The Trojans improve to 13-11 and 7-6 in the Pac-12. California loses just their second game at Haas Pavilion this season, falling to 18-7 (9-4 Pac-12). The Bears remain in second place in the conference standings, holding a one-game lead over third-place Oregon State.
The Bears will be back out on the road, taking on Oregon State next Saturday in Corvallis. They open the road trip on Thursday in Eugene, taking on the Oregon Ducks.