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Cal Basketball

Trojans Pull Away from Bears in Second Half

January 6, 2022
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,l gave USC a game for most of the night, but the seventh-ranked and undefeated Trojans had too much height, too much speed and too much firepower and defeated the spirited Bears, 77-63, Thursday night at Haas Pavillion.

The Bears (9-6, 2-2 Pac-12) never trailed by more than six in the first half and were within three a minute into the second. But the Trojans went on a 10-2 run to pull away. Cal made a couple of mini runs later in the half, but was never really a threat to the Trojans (13-0, 3-0).

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Fox pleads his case

The stats tell the story of this one. USC, the fourth tallest team in the country, outrebounded the Bears, 39-24 including 10-6 on offense. The Trojans were dominant inside and 50 of their points were in the paint. They had four players in double figures, led by 6-10 Isaiah Mobley, who had 19 points including a couple of 3-pointers. Whenever the Bears threatened Mobley or Drew Peterson, who scored 17, was there to make a play.

“Credit to USC, they have a terrific team and I was really impressed with their club,” Cal head coach Mark Fox said. “We didn’t play well enough to beat a top-10 team tonight. 

“We didn’t rebound the ball in the first half and in the second half we didn’t force enough stops to have our rebounding be exposed. I thought that their length in the paint was really evident, that advantage was evident in the second half.”

The Bears did trim the Trojans lead to 54-50 with a little more than nine minutes left in the game. But Mobley took over, hitting a layup, rebounding a Cal miss then burying a trey. Suddenly it’s a 9-point deficit again.

In one final futile spurt, the Bears cut the deficit to eight inside the final two minutes, but that was more a mirage than a true threat. 

D, Ross Cameron -- USA Today
USC’s Drew Peterson (13) looks for teammate

Cal hung with the Trojans in the first half, never trailing by more than six and facing a deficit of just five (36-31) at the intermission. Fox felt the Bears could have been in a better situation than that. 

“We gave up two turnovers that led to two layups that’s four points and if you rebound the ball one more time you are ahead at the half,” Fox said. “Little things catch up to you.”

Peterson, one of the Trojans’ oversized guards, was a major spark in the first half. The 6-9 senior had eight points and six rebounds. Mobley, USC’s All-American candidate, had 12 points and six rebounds.

Grant Aniticevich led Cal in scoring with 19, Jordan Shepherd had 17 and Andre Kelly 16, 

Shepherd picked up two quick fouls and was removed early in the first half. When USC began to get going, he was reinserted and played the rest of the night picked up just one more personal.

“I did have to be a little careful,” Shepherd said. “But I’ve been around a while and I know how to play with two fouls.”

Fox is not one for moral victories, and he clearly thought his team had a chance for a tenth straight home victory.

“At the end of the night, we had fewer turnover than they had, we made more threes than they made,” Fox said. “But they wore us out on the interior and that was more disappointing than surprising.”

Notes

  • Cal is scheduled to meet UCLA on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.
  • The Bruins’ Jamie Jaquez, Jr., the teams’ second leading scorer at 14.78 ppg, sprained an ankle in Thursday night’s win over Long Beach State and his status for Saturday is uncertain.
  • This will be the first time since 1975 the Bears have played two top-ten opponents in the same week


 

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Trojans Pull Away from Bears in Second Half

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