Updated at: 02/17/2013 8:08 PM
By TOM CONNOLLY
(AP) LOS ANGELES - Despite struggling for the past month, Southern Cal coach Michael Cooper still has faith in his squad.
The Trojans dropped their sixth straight game falling to No. 6 Cal 72-64 on Sunday. A month ago the USC women’s basketball team forced California into overtime before losing a heart breaker.
"I feel good about our team," said Cooper. "We’re not out of it. We have the tournament coming up and it’s probably going to take us playing four straight nights but we’ll be up to it. I feel good that our team is moving the right direction, but we’re not completing games. We have to work hard defense for 40 minutes."
The Trojans trailed 53-40 with 10:12 to play, but rallied within four on Cassie Harberts’ basket with 1:54 to play. California made seven crucial free throws down the stretch to hold and win.
Harberts, who made only 4 of 17 shots, led the USC with 20 points. She converted 12 of 14 free throws, had seven rebounds and four steals and played the entire game.
"I’ve been here three years and I know how Cal is going to try and beat you down," said Harberts. "I think we held our own."
Ariya Crook had a strong game as she scored 15 points and 5 rebounds and four assists.
"We tried to catch up by using our pressure," said Crook, who made 5 of 10 shots. "We took advantage and scored after creating turnovers."
"This team (Cal) is an inside team," said Cooper. "We had to stay close to them so they wouldn’t kill us on the boards."
Layshia Clarendon scored 22 points and Brittany Boyd added 16 to lead the Golden Bears, which has won 11 straight and completed is first sweep in Los Angles since 2007-08 season.
California (23-2, 13-1) remains tied for first-place in conference with Stanford, which defeated UCLA on Sunday. The Golden Bears, which defeated UCLA on Friday, has four Pac 12 games remaining.
"I’m proud of our players," said Golden Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "It wasn’t easy but to come away with a sweep in LA is a big deal. We played through the pressure and the difficult calls down the stretch. This group is so focused and versatile, especially on the road."
USC (8-17, 5-9) lost its sixth straight, equaling its longest losing streak of the season.
Gennifer Brandon and Boyd made four free throws in the final 40 seconds to foil USC’s comeback.
By the virtue of their triumph the Golden Bears is guaranteed a first round bye in the Pac 12 Tournament. California also owns the longest current winning streak in the conference.
The Golden Bears have not lost a game since dropping a 62-53 decision to Stanford on January 8th.
Afure Jemerigbe scored 11 points and Brandon pulled down 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears, which outrebounded he Trojans 46-35 in the game.
The Trojans shot 36.1 percent (22-61) in the game and were outrebounded 46-35. USC missed 12 free throws but forced 16 turnovers.
Christina Marinaccci scored 9 points and had 7 rebounds and Deanna Calhoun also hauled down 6 rebounds for the Trojans. Alexyz Vaioletama dished out six assists for USC.
The Golden Bears led 38-29 at halftime.
Members of the USC women’s championship basketball teams from 1983 and 1984 were honored during a halftime ceremony. Two championship banners were unveiled in the rafters at Galen Center in their honor. The Trojans wore pink jerseys in support of breast cancer.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)