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USC 84 - Cal 66

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66

Cal

Cal at USC

vs.

84

USC

A Storybook Ending!
Photo: Christine Cotter - LAT
With a season high 10,000-plus in attendance, USC beat Cal in its final home game of the season 84-66. It was an emotional night as SC paid tribute to their seniors including the late Ryan Francis who was represented by his mother.

It might have also been the last home game junior Nick Young who is contemplating entering the draft. This was a far cry from the season opening loss to South Carolina back in mid-November. While this win is a lock for USC to get into the tournament the question now becomes one of seeding.

A win against WSU in the season finale is sure to improve their position as a higher seed as SC would then be 2nd in the Pac 10, I won't even look at the Pac 10 tournament until the season is over.

Here is the Box Score and the Game Recap from ESPN

SC came out slow letting Cal hit 3 3-pointers in a row for 9-2 lead but SC on its own 9-2 run later in the 1st half that put the Trojans up 21-14. Stewart need 2 3-pointers to tied the SC record, held by Brandon Granville, in the 1st half and broke the record in the 2nd half finishing with 4-of-7 in 3 point attempts.

The seniors set the tone with Stewart and N'diaye scoring 10 of SC's first 12 points in the game.  The play of the game had to be when Chris Penrose came off the bench to hit 3-pointer with about 5 seconds to play. It was justice served after Cal's Steve Panawek dunked the ball in the final seconds of Cal's senior day last season.

The SC defense played Cal pretty tight as SC held Cal to a paltry 33% shooting average in the first half. They also held the Cal bench to only 5 points. They also forced 9 turnovers and had six blocked shots. SC held Cal to six free throw attempts, making 4 for 67% for the game, while SC went 14-of-17 for 82%

While this is a far cry from where the MSM picked SC to finish in the Pac 10, sixth by some accounts, we are by no means home free. With two tough game games away to finish out the season SC needs to stay on its game and finish strong as they head into the Pac 10 tournament. Winning both games against the Washington schools could put them into 2nd place and provided they continue their strong play they could end up playing UCLA for the Pac 10 title. I know that is looking a little over the horizon but nothing would make me happier than to play them one more time for all the marbles.

Back to Penrose, the little used walk-on who scored only 3 points in 10 minutes of work this season came into the game with 2:30 left and was promptly beat on a lay-up by Cal's Patrick Christopher, he was then only able to watch Christopher take an alley-oop pas for a dunk. The crowd was cheering him on to shoot the ball whenever he touched it, he threw up a 3-pointer that didn't even touch the rim but then he got the ball with 6 seconds left and swished it and the crowd erupted. That's a great way to end your college career at home!

Penrose had played only 10 minutes and scored three points this season before his big finish in his final home game.

"I told him that he can leave this university and tell all of his friends that he'd been given the short end of the stick by the coach," Floyd said. "He got two minutes tonight and scored three points. If he'd had played 40 minutes, he'd have scored 60 points."

Penrose received bearhugs from teammates Abdoulaye N'diaye and Daniel Hackett after the game before racing over to the student section and celebrating with the fans.

"It was pretty incredible," said Penrose, who hopes to remain with the Trojans as a graduate assistant coach next season.

"It was a storybook ending to a little walk-on's career."

So it's on to Washington to finish out the season. A couple of wins there and it really helps us for the Pac 10 Tournament and the Big Dance later on next month. SC has come a long a way this season and while we have had a few bumps in the road we still have a lot of work to be done in the next couple of weeks.

This was a great way to finishing out the home portion of the season!

FIGHT ON!

Update [2007-2-26 22:0:54 by Paragon SC]: If you want to check out some of the Highlights of the USC-Cal game check out this Podcast here.