Dec. 28, 2001
BERKELEY - California continued to struggle in crunch time of games, as it lost its sixth-straight contest, 69-53, to USC Friday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears record dropped to 4-6 and 0-3 in Pac-10 play, while USC improved to 7-5 (3-0 Pac-10) with their fourth-straight victory.
"USC stepped up when they needed to," said Cal coach Caren Horstmeyer. "For whatever reason, we have struggled about the last six games, being able to get it close and then not being able to get over the hump. Our goal is to be able to get over that hump."
Sophomore guard LaTasha O'Keith posted a career-high 17 points to lead all Bear scorers. Senior center Ami Forney, the Pac-10's leader for field goal percentage, tallied 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor. Forney scored only two points in the first half, as she was limited to 12 minutes of playing time with two personal fouls.
USC had four players in double figures, led by Berkeley High grad Aisha Hollans' 19 points and 14 rebounds. Ebony Hoffman also had a double-double (13 points, 14 rebounds).
The Trojans led by seven at the end of the first half, 35-28, and built their lead to 13 at 45-32 with 16:36 remaining in the game. The Bears didn't let the Trojans out of their sight, putting on a 15-4 run over the next 5:35 to pull within two (49-47). Forney had six points and O'Keith four during the run. The highlight of the run was an NBA-range three-pointer by Jackie Lord, her second of the season from that distance.
Cal outshot USC 45.1 percent to 39.5 percent from the floor, but the Trojans helped their cause by dominating the offensive glass. Hollans (8) and Hoffman (7) combined for 15 of USC's 28 offensive rebounds. Overall, the Trojans held a 50-29 advantage on the glass.
"USC really stepped up in rebounding and forced turnovers," said Horstmeyer. "We had 28 turnovers and only forced 19. Their defense led to their offense because they really struggled against the zone, and we weren't rebounding out of it."
USC head coach Chris Gobrecht was not surprised Cal kept the game close.
"It's a credit to Cal's work ethic," said Gobrecht. "They're a team that doesn't let things faze them. A team that understands their strengths and weaknesses and keeps on playing is always going to have a performance they can be proud of. That's what they do. The boards were the difference in the game. We were unbelievable on the boards."
It was this tenacious rebounding that helped USC go on a 10-2 run to rebuild its lead back to double figures (59-49) with 6:22 on the clock. The Bears still had time to recover but were hurt by five of their 28 turnovers in the final minutes of the game. In the final 11 minutes of the game after closing to within two points, the Bears posted only six points.
In the first half, the Trojans posted their biggest lead of the half of 13 (21-8) with 9:10 until halftime. In typical Cal fashion this year, the Bears didn't let the lead get out of hand and had the score within three points at 31-28 following a Kiki Williams three-pointer and an O'Keith layup.
Cal held USC to 0-of-11 from three-point range and converted 4-of-10 of its own treys for the game.
The Bears look to post their first league win of the season Sunday at home against UCLA. Game time is at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.