The USC Trojans came firing out of the gate in the second half, using a 10-2 run early in the half to open up a 17-point lead over the California Golden Bears in quarterfinal action at the Pac-10 Tournament. With a comfortable lead, USC was able to cruise down the stretch in a 70-56 win.
It was all about the defense for the Trojans, who forced Cal into 16 turnovers and held the Bears to 42.6 percent shooting from the field and from 28.6 percent three-point range as the Bears converted just 2-7 shots from beyond the arc. USC was aggressive on the offensive end, as well, getting to the line 18 times, converting 12 free throws.
Alex Stepheson was a monster for the Trojans, recording a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Donte Smith added 14 points, Jio Fontan had 12 and Maurice Jones provided a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points, as well. Fontan also finished with a team-high four assists.
With Jorge Gutierrez off all game long, scoring just four points on 2-10 shooting, Cal was unable to establish a rhythm or find an answer for the Trojans’ scoring runs. Allen Crabbe, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, led the way for Cal, scoring a team-high 21 points. Richard Solomon added 11 points and was joined in double-figures by Brandon Smith, who had 10.
The Trojans move on to face the winner of the next quarterfinal matchup, Arizona or Oregon State, at Staples Center on Saturday at 6 p.m. Cal heads home to regroup before taking a likely bid to the NIT on Sunday.
First round: Wednesday, March 9
No. 9 Oregon State Beavers def. No. 8 Stanford Cardinal, 69-67
No. 7 Oregon Ducks def. No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils, 76-69
Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 10
No. 4 USC Trojans def No. 5 California Golden Bears,
No. 1 Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 9 Oregon State, 2:30, FSN
No. 2 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 7 Oregon 6 p.m., FSN
No. 3 Washington Huskies vs. No. 6 Washington State Cougs, 8:30 p.m., FSN
Semifinals: Friday, March 11
USC vs. Arizona/Oregon State, 6 p.m., FSN
UCLA/Oregon vs. Washington/Washington State, 8:30 p.m., FSN
Finals: Saturday, March 12
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m., CBS
For more on the tournament, including the latest news and bracket updates, check out the rest of our 2011 Pac-10 tournament StoryStream.