LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- California received some help and was able to leave the Los Angeles area with a win.
Brian Wethers made the go-ahead free throws with 15 seconds remaining as 20th-ranked California rallied for an 84-82 Pac-10 Conference victory over Southern California, which unraveled down the stretch.
Coming off Thursday's 76-75 overtime loss at UCLA, the Golden Bears looked to be headed for their second straight defeat before erasing a five-point deficit over the final 2:06.
"This wasn't an easy game for us," California coach Ben Braun said. "I don't know if USC could have played any better. It was a track meet out there, as it always seems to be when we play down here."
Errick Craven's layup with 2:06 remaining gave the Trojans an 81-76 lead. But Amit Tamir converted two free throws with 1:33 left, and after the Trojans committed a turnover on their ensuing possession, Conor Famulener drilled a 3-pointer with 53 seconds to go, pulling the Golden Bears into an 81-81 tie.
Desmon Farmer lost the ball on the next Trojans possession and Wethers drew a foul with 15 seconds left. The 65 percent free throw shooter calmly converted from the line, giving the Bears the lead.
"We lost some games because we hadn't hit our free throws and coach really gets on us in practice," Wethers said. "In practice, we've been shooting free throws and making it happen. We've been shooting with confidence and I thought we did well tonight."
With seven seconds left, the Trojans had a chance to tie it but Derrick Craven only made 1-of-2 from the line. Joe Shipp made 1-of-2 from the line with 5.8 seconds left, giving the Bears an 84-82 lead.
Following a timeout, Farmer, who scored 21 points, slipped and fell down on his way to the basket, allowing the Bears to escape with the victory.
"We had control of the game," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "This one hurts more than any because we were up. There were some big turnovers that cost us the game."
Shipp scored 22 of his 29 points in the first half for California (19-4, 12-2 Pac-10), which remained one game behind top-ranked Arizona in the conference standings.
"It was crucial for us, we couldn't come down here and lose two games," Shipp said. "Our goal was to come down here and get two games."
Derrick Craven finished with 15 points and Errick Craven added 14 for the Trojans (10-13, 5-9), who suffered their fourth straight loss.
"We played a good 39 minutes and the last minute people started going 1-on-1," Errick Craven said. "We get out our offense and we don't make good decisions at the end and I think that just comes with our youth."
The Trojans start four sophomores and a junior.
Shipp, who has emerged as one of the conference's top players this season, carried the Bears in the first half, helping his team to a 46-39 advantage. The senior forward finished 12-of-22 from the field.
Sparked by Shipp, the Bears shot 58 percent (19-of-33) in the opening 20 minutes.
It was still a seven-point lead for the Bears with just over 16 minutes left. But Farmer scored seven points in a 17-6 surge, giving the Trojans a 65-61 lead with 10:45 to play.