Tyrone Wallace struggled shooting the ball for most of the night...until the final shot of the game. California's leading scorer hit a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to lift his California Golden Bears (14-9, 4-6 Pac-12) over the USC Trojans (9-13, 1-9) on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. It is the seventh straight loss for USC and the third straight victory for Cal.
While Wallace was off his game for California until the end (6-for-17 FG, 3-9 FT, 18 points), freshman point guard Jordan McLaughlin followed the opposite script for USC. He was sensational (7-for-9 FG, 3-for-5 from long range, 20 points), especially in the second half when he sparked a huge comeback. It was by far his best game thus far in Pac-12 play. However, he missed his second free throw attempt with five seconds left, which sent the Golden Bears on a fast break and led to Wallace's dagger.
David Kravish had 15 points and eight rebounds for California and hit a layup with 41 seconds left to put his team up by one. Katin Reinhardt (8-for-13, 16 points) came back with a long two with 25 seconds to go. After a poor foul call on McLaughlin, Wallace missed the front end of a 1-and-1, which forced Cal to foul. McLaughlin swished home the first, but the second free throw rimmed out and was the difference in the game.
It wasn't just McLaughlin missing clutch free throws for USC, though. The Trojans were only 9-for-18 in the game at the line and lost despite out-shooting the Golden Bears 50.9 percent to 42.6. California also made nine threes compared to just four by USC.
California started strong and held USC to just nine points in the first 11 minutes of the game. The Golden Bears eventually built a 30-16 lead, but USC finished the half on a 10-5 run to close to within nine points at the break. The Trojans maintained the momentum out of the locker room. They went on a 14-6 run in the first five minutes and a prolonged 28-16 spurt to tie the game, 54-54, with 7:58 left.
Three consecutive plays sparked the Trojan push. Darion Clark took a feed in the lane off a pick-and-roll and delivered a ferocious two-handed slam dunk. On the next play, Julian Jacobs jumped in a passing lane, stole the ball, and finished with a reverse jam, leading to a California timeout.
Right after the timeout, it was Clark who came up with a steal and fed it ahead to Jacobs for a layup to tie the game, 54-54. Jacobs, McLaughlin, and Elijah Stewart were especially key on the defensive end in USC's comeback, constantly jumping into passing lanes and exerting ball pressure on the perimeter.
The Trojans lone victory in conference play this season came at the Galen Center against Cal and they haven't won since. They nearly knocked off the Golden Bears again, but instead, they will head to Palo Alto on Sunday to try to break their losing streak against Stanford.
The Cardinal were down by more than 20 points to UCLA on Thursday night, but their comeback attempt fell short, as they lost by two. The opening tip is set for 5:30 p.m. PST. The game will be televised by ESPNU.