Feb. 4, 2010
The California Golden Bear women's basketball team pulled in key offensive rebounds late in the game to secure a 61-55 victory over the visiting USC Trojans. Freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth had her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
After trailing by five at the half, 28-23, Cal came charging back in the second half. After twice pulling within a point only to watch USC extend the lead back out to six, Cal mounted a third charge at the Trojan's lead. Freshman guard Layshia Clarendon hit a three-pointer to make it a 42-39 game. Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon got an offensive board and a putback to pull within a point for the third time in the half. Clarendon got a steal to give the ball right back to the Bears. They got the ball into the hands of Brandon who was fouled driving the lane. She hit a freethrow to tie the game, 42-42. After missing the second freethrow, senior guard Natasha Vital got the offensive rebound, keeping the ball in Cal's hands. Vital was fouled on a layup attempt, putting her at the line where she gave Cal a 44-42 advantage, and their first lead of the game, with 9:30 left on the clock.
USC managed to steal the lead back with 7:27 remaining, edging ahead 45-44 on a jumper in the paint by guard Jacki Gemelos. After a miss on Cal's end of the floor, Bear freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth swatted away another Gemelos offering, she scooped up a rebound, feeding the ball to Alexis Gray-Lawson who ran the floor, scoring on the fast break. Senior guard Natasha Vital grabbed a steal, setting up a layup by Stallworth to give Cal a 48-45 lead with 5:48 remaining. They would never again trail in the game.
After Cal pushed the lead to eight, 57-49, with 46 seconds left on the clock, USC got back-to-back three-pointers by Ashley Corral to make it a two-point game, 57-55, with 35 seconds left. Layshia Clarendon hit a freethrow, but missed her second, with Natahsa Vital scooping up the offensive board to keep the ball with Cal. After Vital was fouled, she too hit her first freethrow, missing her second, with Gennifer Brandon this time coming up with the huge offensive rebound with 27 seconds left on the clock. USC fouled Alexis Gray-Lawson, who hit her two freethrows to secure the 61-55 victory.
"I think the kids grew a lot in the game, especially in the last five minutes," said head coach Joanne Boyle. "I think we did a much better job understanding that piece of the puzzle, of how to close out games. I am just proud of everything. Our rebounding. Coming back in the second half with our rebounding. Our defense. Our pressing. Even offensively, moving the ball better."
The Bears pulled in 23 offensive rebounds in the game, including six key o-boards in the final five minutes of play. The Bears scored 31 second chance points in the game, with the Trojans only scoring 11. The Bears outrebounded the Trojans by 19 (49-30).
DeNesha Stallworth had her first career double-double, scoring 14 points with 10 rebounds. She also had a pair of blocks. Layshia Clarendon scored a game-high 18 points. Gennifer Brandon pulled in 14 rebounds, seven offensive and seven defensive, one shy of her career high. "That is just gut check time, coming up with a rebound off of a freethrow," said Boyle of Brandon's key offensive rebounds at the end of the game.
"Finding a way to get the rebound. And she just has an instinct. She knew how important those were. And she did the right thing and kicked them back out instead of trying to do too much. It was huge for us. Huge!"
With the victory, Cal improves to 12-9 and 6-4 in the Pac-10. They conclude their homestand on Saturday, February 6, when they host the UCLA Bruins. The game will be carried live in the Bay Area on Comcast Bay Area. It is also a Cal Kids Day with all youth tickets (12th grade and younger) available for just $1. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.