Jan. 27, 2006
LOS ANGELES - Freshmen guard Alexis Gray-Lawson posted a game-high 19 points to lead California to a 72-67 victory over No. 23 USC Friday night at the Lyon Center. The Golden Bears improved to 14-6 overall (6-4 Pac-10) with their first season sweep of the Women of Troy since 1989-90 and only the third in school history. USC, which entered tonight's game in second place in the Pac-10, fell to 13-6 (7-3).
"I was nervous about coming down here (after the Arizona loss)," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle, whose team defeated No. 13 Arizona State last week. "We had a lot of adversity with the road trip taking us two hours to get to the game from the hotel. I tried to get them as focused as I could, and they took responsibility in there. The biggest key for us was that Renee (Wright) and Ashley (Walker) didn't have their best games, and Krista (Foster) and Sarah (Pool) came in and sparked us. We've always said we were going to have to have team wins down the stretch. They really contributed. Lexi came back after a really tough game against Arizona, and I thought she responded really well. People stepped up, and we needed that."
Cal jumped out to a 13-4 lead with 15:32 to play in the first half behind seven points from Walker and a three-pointer from Gray-Lawson. A three-pointer from Morris lifted the Bears to their biggest lead of the game at 18-7 with under 12 minutes remaining until halftime.
USC responded with a 9-2 run to close to within 20-16. An offensive rebound and putback from Krista Foster and a steal and layup from Morris put the Bears back up 24-16 with 8:16 left in the first half, and six straight points from Hampton extended Cal's edge to 32-21 at the 4:15 mark.
A three-pointer from Eshaya Murphy, who had 14 first-half points and 17 for the game, brought the Women of Troy to within 35-31, but Gray-Lawson answered with her second three of the game to send the Bears into the locker room up 38-31. Morris and Hampton paced the Bears with 11 first-half points.
After a layup from Murphy cut Cal's lead to 44-39, Gray-Lawson began to take charge of the game for the Bears. She sank her third three of the game to extend her team's edge to 47-39 and later hit her fourth three to give the Bears a 52-43 advantage with 13:14 left in the contest.
A basket from Walker propelled Cal back to a double-digit lead at 58-48. USC went on an 8-3 spurt to get within five again with 6:32 on the clock, but Gray-Lawson came up with a clutch driving layup on the other end of the court.
Meghan Gnekow hit her second trey of the game to bring USC to within 67-63 with 1:15 to play and Jamie Hagiya sank two free throws to cut Cal's lead to 68-65.
Morris made it a two possession game with two free throws with 13 ticks on the clock. Chloe Kerr, who paced USC with 18 points, made a layup to cut the score to 70-67. Murphy fouled sophomore forward Krista Foster with four seconds to go, and Foster calmly made both of her free throws. Foster finished the game with six points, two rebounds and a steal and played the final 5:05 after Hampton fouled out.
Cal shot 52.0 percent from the floor and held USC to 41.3 percent. The Women of Troy knocked down only 6-of-25 three-pointers after nailing 10-of-32 in a 73-68 loss to Cal Jan. 1 in Berkeley.
"I don't think my team feels like they can't beat anybody," said Boyle. "That's what I love about them. They're not intimidated. We might not win every game. But, going in we have an edge with a young team being that confident."
The Bears wrap up their road trip at UCLA (11-8, 6-4) Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. The last time the teams met Cal defeated UCLA, 65-58. The Bears have never swept the season series from USC and UCLA in the same season.