No. 5 Cal races past USC 78-59 in Pac-12 quarters
SEATTLE (AP) - Gennifer Brandon has 17 points and 16 rebounds and No. 5 California scored the first 11 points on its way to a 78-59 win over USC in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament on Friday.
California, the No. 2 seed in the tourney despite sharing the regular season crown with Stanford, will face either No. 14 UCLA or Utah in the semifinals Saturday night.
Brandon led a balanced scoring attack for the Golden Bears, who clinched a share of their first conference title in school history last Saturday with a win over Washington. Afure Jemerigbe and Brittany Boyd both added 15 as California (28-2) won its 16th straight. The 28 wins sets a single-season school record.
Cassie Harberts led USC (11-20) with 24 points.
Talia Caldwell scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds and the Golden Bears topped the 70-point mark for the eighth time in their last 10 games.
California has now reached the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament for the seventh straight year and keeps alive the Golden Bears hopes of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. California would likely need to beat Stanford in the title game or have the Cardinal get upset before reaching the final for the Bears to have a shot at a No. 1 seed.
USC reached the quarters by knocking off Oregon State in the opening round on Thursday, but the Trojans couldn't be competitive against the Golden Bears for a third time this season. USC took California to overtime in Berkeley in January before the Bears pulled out a 71-63 win. A month later in Los Angeles, the Trojans rallied in the second half but fell short in a 72-64 loss.
This time, the Trojans were playing catch up from the start.
California dominated most of the first half, holding USC to 27 percent shooting and forcing the 10 Trojans' turnovers, which the Bears turned into 14 points. California led by as many as 21, but the Trojans scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to get back within 15, a deficit that could have been less had USC not missed its final four shots of the half. California had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half while USC had 16 total rebounds.
The Bears then started the second half on a 10-4 run and led were never threatened. California held a dominating 53-34 advantage on the boards and led by as many as 26 in the second half.
Christina Marinacci and Ariya Crook both added 10 points for the Trojans.
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