Bears Maul No. 20 USC, 83-64
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  02/23/2002

Feb 23, 2002

Box Score| Quotes

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California made another strong statement, and the Bears don't care who is listening.

Dennis Gates scored a career-high 17 points as California broke No. 20 Southern California's three-game winning streak with an 83-64 victory on Saturday.

It was the second straight win over a ranked opponent for the Bears (20-6, 11-5 Pacific 10 Conference), who have yet to be ranked themselves this season. Ryan Forehan-Kelly added 14 points, A.J. Diggs had 12 and Solomon Hughes 10 for the Bears, who are seeking their first conference title since 1959-60.

They are tied for second with Arizona and Southern California, one half-game behind Oregon, which played Saturday night. California is the only team among the top six in the conference that hasn't been ranked.

"None of that stuff matters," Gates said. "Who cares where we are now? What matters is where we finish."

California's conference-leading defense limited the Trojans (19-7, 11-5) to 34 percent shooting (23-of-68), while holding leading scorer Sam Clancy to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting and six rebounds.

The 6-foot-7 forward entered with 11 straight double-doubles. He scored 27 in a 92-91 home overtime loss to Cal on Jan. 24. Errick Craven and Brandon Granville each had 12 points for the Southern California, which is seeking its first conference title since 1985.

"They played some tough defense," Clancy said. "They switched up a lot and presented me with some tough matchups. It's a tough game and Cal just played great."

Gates and Forehan-Kelly might have been motivated because it was their last home game, and the two were honored before it. Gates said the Bears probably play more as team because they aren't ranked, instead relying on balance and a defense that allows just 63.9 points per game.

Joe Shipp, the team's leading scorer, played just 15 minutes Saturday and scored eight points.

"It's really a different guy stepping up every night," Gates said. "If we had one of the top 10 scorers in the nation we'd probably be ranked. But we're a team. And in the end, that's more important than being ranked."

Said Cal coach Ben Braun: "It would be nice to be recognized, but truly nothing replaces the feeling of winning. We just look inward for our recognition. Perception isn't so important."

Gates had missed four games with partially torn ligaments in his right wrist before returning Thursday. He helped make up for the loss of starting point guard Shantay Legans, who sustained a concussion in Thursday's win over UCLA.

Diggs, a sophomore walk-on, replaced Legans in the starting lineup and matched his career high. Jamal Sampson, a freshman from Mater Dei High in Southern California, also had a big game with 10 rebounds and four blocks.

"He played me better than anyone else this year," Clancy said.

Cal outscored USC 44-12 in the paint while completing a series sweep. The Bears also scored 18 points off turnovers to just eight for the Trojans, who normally excel in that department.

"We didn't make easy shots," Bibby said. "We tried to (make shots) ourselves individually, not as a team. Cal played well and wanted it more than we did."

A dunk by Shipp capped a 12-0 run that gave the Bears their biggest lead, 36-24 with 3:55 left in the first half. Amit Tamir, who scored 57 points in his last two home games, turned into a playmaker for Cal, recording a career-high seven assists.

His last of the first half was a no-look bounce pass to Shipp along the baseline for a dunk. Tamir had just five points, but no turnovers.

"Amit showed me the stat sheet after the game and pointed to his assists and turnovers," Braun said. "Most guys would have been down because they didn't score much. That's what kind of team we have. We have a lot of unselfish guys who just play hard."

The Trojans had trouble getting Clancy, who came in averaging 21.5 points, any looks. He had just two points on eight shots through the first 16:30. The Trojans, who made 10 of their first 16 shots, missed 14 straight during a scoreless streak that lasted 8:27.

Cal increased its lead to 42-28, but Clancy drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer, making it 42-31 at halftime.

Both teams were coming off impressive wins over ranked teams. USC won at No. 10 Stanford 77-58, while Cal beat No. 25 UCLA 69-51.

It was the Trojans' biggest win at Maples Pavilion since 1971.