USC Women Fall To No. 5 Cal In Pac-12 Tournament
SEATTLE -- The USC women's basketball team came up against a determined Cal squad in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament today in Seattle. The No. 2 seeded Bears took full advantage of dry spells by the No. 7 seeded Trojans in both halves, and pushed out to a 78-59 victory that snapped a three-game win streak held by the Women of Troy. The USC loss leaves the Trojans with an 11-20 overall record this season. Cal, ranked No. 5 in the nation, improves to 28-2 overall and advances to tomorrow's tournament semifinals.
Cassie Harberts was the human highlight reel for the Women of Troy once again, finishing with a game-high 24 points for her 30th double-digit game this season. And with a 10-of-12 effort from the free-throw line, Harberts wrapped up her junior season by beating out Trojan great Cheryl Miller in setting new USC single-season records for free throws made and attempted with 207 makes and 298 attempts.
Hamstrung by a bevy of fouls whistled against them, the Trojans stumbled in the early goings of the game before finding a bit of a groove later in the game. USC had fallen behind by 21 points but found a defensive spark to cut in and trail 37-22 at halftime. USC was shooting just 27 percent to 37 percent from Cal in the first half, and was behind on the boards 26-16. The second half also held a quiet spell for the Trojans, who would trail by as much as 27 points. It was Cal's dedication to the boards that spelled doom for USC. The Bears hauled in 22 offensive rebounds in the game, outrebounding USC 53-34 overall in the game. The Trojans finished the game hitting 33 percent from the floor, and Cal wound up at 37 percent with four players in double figures let by Gennifer Brandon's double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Harberts led all with her 24 points, joined by senior Christina Marinacci and sophomore Aria Crook with 10 points apiece for USC. With a team-high seven rebounds, Marinacci wraps up her Trojan career as USC's No. 9 all-time rebounder with 738 career boards in her 120 appearances as a Trojan.
Brandon 's 17 points for Cal was paired with 15 points from Afure Jemerigbe and Brittany Boyd and 12 from Talia Caldwell.
USC went scoreless out of the gates and fell behind 11-0 before Cassie Harberts plugged in a bucket for the Trojans at 15:38. USC had been tagged with six fouls in the first five minutes, meanwhile, and Cal was in the bonus after just seven minutes of action. Harberts had the first six points for USC, and it was slow going for the Trojans. USC got to double digits once the scoring spread to new hands. Deanna Calhoun got on the board with a bucket, and Ariya Crook nailed two free throws, but USC was in a 27-10 hole with 8:52 remaining in the half. The deficit deepened to 21 points with five minutes to go, but USC was able to generate a late rally. Destinie Gibbs hit a jumper and Harberts pumped in two more free throws. The USC defense shut down the Bears with a series of blocks to prompt a shot clock violation by Cal and get the ball back in Trojan hands. Gibbs put in two free throws next, and the score was 37-22 Cal with 2:51 left and that score would stand up to halftime as the Trojan defense held Cal scoreless through the last five minutes of the half.
An 8-0 Cal run lifted the Bears to a 49-26 lead five minutes into the second half. A score from Harberts stopped the streak, and on her next visit to the line, the USC junior would break Cheryl Miller's USC record for free throws attempted in a season. USC cut to within 17, only to have the Bears drain a three and strike out on a 10-0 run to lead 69-42 with 5:30 remaining. The Trojans outscored the Bears 17-9 the rest of the way but was well out of reach of a comeback in taking the 78-59 loss to wrap up the season.