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USC coughs up lead in 76-68 loss to Cal

Posted: February 17, 2013 9:52 p.m.
Updated: February 17, 2013 9:52 p.m.

USC's Jio Fontan (1) drives the ball against California's Brandon Smith on Sunday in Berkeley.

 

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Allen Crabbe had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Justin Cobbs added 22 points and California came back from 15 points down in the second half to beat Southern California 76-68 on Sunday night.

Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer, got into a heated exchange with Cal coach Mike Montgomery early in the second half but regained his composure and rallied the Golden Bears (16-9, 8-5) to their third straight win. Crabbe scored 10 points over the final 4½ minutes and helped Cal close the game on a 25-7 run.

J.T. Terrell scored 17 points and Byron Wesley scored 16 for the Trojans (12-14, 7-6). USC made just two baskets over the final 6 minutes.

The win helped the Bears inch ahead of the Trojans into a fourth-place tie with Arizona State in the conference, two games behind No. 23 Oregon.

It didn't come easily or without drama.

Montgomery appeared to yell at Crabbe during a timeout with 16:31 remaining then shoved his star player in the chest with both hands. An angry Crabbe had to be forcibly restrained and pushed off the court into a nearby tunnel by Cobbs. Solomon ran into the tunnel as well, and Crabbe didn't re-emerge until after the game had resumed. He took a spot on the end of Cal's bench before Montgomery put him back in.

That seemed to ignite the Bears.

Cobbs scored on a three-point play and Solomon added a short jumper and dunk to make it 47-39. Cobbs then scored Cal's next six points and Crabbe added a 16-foot jumper, cutting the Trojans lead to 54-47.

Southern California, which nearly blew a 14-point lead in Thursday's win over Stanford, extended its lead to 61-51 after Wesley's fourth 3-pointer of the game. The Trojans' sophomore guard had made only nine shots from beyond the arc all season before going 4 of 6 against Cal.

It wasn't enough.

Brandon Smith scored three straight points, Crabbe hit a 3, David Kravish followed with two free throws and Cobbs made his first 3-pointer of the night to put the Bears up 62-61 with 3:32 left.

Jio Fontan stopped the run with a 3-pointer but Crabbe followed with back-to-back 3s, and the Bears coasted the rest of the way to end Southern California's longest winning streak since 2009.

Both teams were streaky in the first half.

USC went on runs of 9-0 and 16-2, getting most of the scoring from Terrell, while California scored 13 consecutive points during one stretch to keep it close.

The see-saw battle continued after Kravish's putback pulled the Bears within 25-22 with 4:22 left. The two teams exchanged baskets and dunks, Dewayne Dedmon getting his for the Trojans on lob pass from Eric Wise while Crabbe followed up Cobbs' missed jumper to cut USC's lead to 32-28 at the break.

Terrell, one of USC's most consistent scorers over the past month, had 11 points in the first half on 4-of-11 shooting, including a 3-point attempt from more than 30 feet out early in the shot clock.

Southern California started fast again in the second half, going up 47-32 on Terrell's third 3-pointer of the night. It came as part of a 13-0 run when the Bears and Crabbe appeared to lose their cool.

Instead, the confrontation between Montgomery and Crabbe proved to be the tipping point of the game.

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