January 16, 1999
LOS ANGELES - Geno Carlisle, coming off the bench for the first time in 28 games, paced five players in double figures with 20 points and a career-high 10 assists to lead California to an 89-75 victory over USC Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
The Bears, who broke a two-game losing streak, improved to 11-4 overall and 2-3 in the Pac-10, while USC fell to 10-5 and 2-4.
Cal started two freshman for the first time all year with center Solomon Hughes and guard Dennis Gates in the lineup. Hughes subbed for Francisco Elson, who was held out of the game after suffering a moderate concussion at UCLA Thursday. Carlisle, who had been slumping in Pac-10 play (shooting just 28 percent from the floor in conference games), was held out of the starting unit in favor of Gates.
The changes seemed to work as Cal raced to a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes on five points from Mike Gill and two more by Thomas Kilgore. USC eventually battled back and took a three-point lead at 32-29 with 1:15 to go in the first half. But the Bears scored six straight points, capped by Kilgore's eight-footer at the buzzer, to give Cal a 35-32 advantage at the break.
The Bears came out strong in the second half, quickly establishing a 46-36 lead. A 6-0 run late in the game gave Cal its biggest lead at 75-55 with 5:27 left and the Bears cruised to their first road Pac-10 win since beating USC last Feb. 12.
In addition to scoring their highest total in a conference game in almost a year, Carl Boyd chipped in a career-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor. Gill also set a season best with 17 points, while Sean Lampley posted his sixth double-double of the year with 15 points and 11 boards. Kilgore, who played point guard most of the night, finished with 15 points and three assists.
Despite not starting a game since Jan. 22, 1998 at Washington, Carlisle played 35 minutes. His 10 assists were the most for a Cal player since Prentice McGruder also had 10 assists on March 6, 1997 against Arizona State in the final game in Harmon Gym.
"A lot of our success depends on how we play, not who we play," said Cal head coach Ben Braun. "I thought our team moved the basketball well and that was important. Defensively, what's probably going to be lost is what we did against USC at the three-point line (3-19, 15.8%). They had been blistering the nets from the three-point line."