Alexis Lloyd comes off the bench to spark USC in road win over Cal, 65-54
BERKELEY, Calif. – USC (14-11, 6-8 Pac-12) halted Cal’s eight-game win streak at Haas Pavilion Sunday with a second half rally led by three players in double figures. The Golden Bears (14-11, 6-8) honored their seniors tonight, but were unable to continue their winning ways in the face of USC’s relentless late-game offensive assault and lockdown defense on senior forward Reshanda Gray.
“We played a great 40-minute game finally,” said USC head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. “It was a great time for it to happen. It is so tough to come into Cal’s home court and get a win. But when you play as hard as we played today, I think we deserved it.”
Cal was in control during the first part of the contest, led by Gray who had 18 points before the break. Both teams started out missing shots but after USC sophomore guard Jordan Adams got the ball rolling with a layup at 18:38, Cal answered immediately with a layup from Gray.
It was a back and forth contest for much of the half with two ties and six lead changes, until Cal broke a 22-all tie at 5:49 with free throws from Gray. The Bears ended the half on a 10-3 run, leading 33-25.
Hitting the Wall in the Second Half
The Bears began the second half looking as if they were going to put the game away, amassing a 12-point lead by 18:19 after four points from Gray and free throws from sophomore guard Mercedes Jefflo. However, in five minutes USC managed to chip away at their deficit getting within one, 39-38 at 13:42.
Sophomore guard Alexis Lloyd provided the Spark USC needed with a layup at 6:07 to give the Trojans a four-point lead. While Gray returned the favor with a layup of her own, Lloyd nailed a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer nearly two minutes later to give the USC a five-point lead at 4:30.
Senior forward Alexyz Vaioletama followed up with a shot clock buzzer-beating trey of her own at 2:56 to give her team a 59-52 lead. By that time, the game was out of reach for Cal as missed jumpers and turnovers from senior point guard Boyd kept the Bears from regaining momentum.
USC outscored Cal 40-21 in the second half.
“They were making buzzer beating threes,” said Gottlieb of USC’s effort in the second half. “They were feeling good and we were not.”
She called her team’s effort after the break a “disaster.”
“I thought that second half, they outplayed us, they outcoached us, they were ready and I thought we relaxed a little bit.”
She praised the gutsy play of Lloyd.
“If there was a hero for them, it was her.” Cal’s coach added that the three-point dagger from the sophomore “just deflated us.”
Lloyd finished with 14 points. Vaioletama and fellow senior forward Kaneisha Horn led the Trojans with 17 points and seven rebounds each.
Gray was the only Cal player in double figures, scoring 32 plus 10 rebounds.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to Reshanda,” said Cooper-Dyke. “What a phenomenal game. There was nothing we could do with her underneath the basket…she did a fantastic job.”
Both teams have four games left in the regular season. USC returns home for a two-game stand against Arizona followed by Arizona State.
Cal stays at home to face Stanford on Wednesday in the first game of the Battle of the Bay between the two teams at 7 p.m. PT. The game versus the Cardinal will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
The Pac-12 tournament begins March 5 in Seattle.