SC Melts Under Barrage of Points by Stallworth, Sherbert

Photo: Sophomore DeNesha Stallworth had a game-high 21 points against the Trojans last night at Haas Pavilion. She also nabbed five rebounds and had two steals in the contest.
Evan Walbridge/Staff
Sophomore DeNesha Stallworth had a game-high 21 points against the Trojans last night at Haas Pavilion. She also nabbed five rebounds and had two steals in the contest.

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For Cal women's basketball last night, three was a magic number. The Bears (11-6, 3-3 in the Pac-10) defeated USC (12-5, 4-2 in the Pac-10), 82-71.

The game at Haas last night was the first time for a game between the Trojans and Cal had been decided by double digits since 2005, and Cal's 50 percent three-point shooting was a key to that result.

The game started with the back-and-forth scoring you would expect from two teams with a history of such close games. USC guard Briana Gilbreath started play with a jumper, and Cal's Lindsay Sherbert responded with a three-pointer. Sherbert made a third of the Bears' nine three-pointers throughout the game, scoring 19 points overall.

While the score remained in Cal's favor until the eighth minute, the Trojans capitalized on defensive gaps significantly more than the Bears did. Early in the game, Cal struggled to connect offensive passes, and USC managed seven steals and 10 fast break points often from defensive lapses from the Bears.

When Trojan guard Ashley Corral intercepted a pass during one Bears offensive campaign, she had in the hands of Gilbreath, USC's top-scorer, for a successful layup within seconds.

"We always tell (the players), 'Just take what they give you,'" coach Joanne Boyle said.

USC outscored the Bears in the paint, 30-24. But given the two teams' history of close competitions, at least for the first half, the Bears' ability to capitalize on threes made all the difference - Cal shot 57.1 percent from three-point range.

"We were flowing," said Layshia Clarendon, who scored 17 points and made eight rebounds. "The basket gets a little bigger when you make your first shot, you get a little more confidence."

Three-pointers were the determining factor behind Cal's lead in the first half, but when it came down to the wire, the Bears needed a more well-rounded game.

Only one of Cal's three-pointers was in the second half, but their field goal percentage improved from 45.5 percent to 59.1 percent.

This victory was the confidence boost the Bears will likely need before they play No. 8 UCLA on Saturday.

Boyle said that as a coach she tries to, "get (the team) to play at the level that they're capable of ... consistently."

That consistency is a desirable improvement for a team that had just returned from two losses to Washington and Washington State.

"A team like that you just have to take care of the ball, like I thought we valued the ball tonight," Boyle said. "It's a team you have to aggressively attack, no one can hide in this game."

The Bears take on the Bruins at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Haas Pavilion.


Alex Matthews covers women's hoops. Contact her at [email protected]

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