Anaheim Convention Center/Anaheim, CA -In a game of back-and-forth momentum, the 4-0 Bears finally prevailed, surving a valient effort by 1-2 Drake in their 73-70 victory in the first round of the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim tonight.
"I thought Drake was exceptional tonight, very physical," said Cal head coach Mike Montgomery. "They took us off guard.
"We had some adjustments to make at halftime.
"I knew they were well-coached team. They have great spacing and they seem to know where people are and try to help on defense.
"We had our hands full."
Center Richard Solomon started fast hitting two of his first three shots, with the second a nifty spin move at the baseline at 16:55 to bring Cal up, 6-4. However, he picked up his second quick foul just a minute later and had to leave the game.
Solomon would struggle all game with fould trouble, playing only 12 minutes before fouling out late in the 4th quarter after having spent much of his time on the bench.
Still, the 6-10 soph managed to score 10 points and gather five rebounds in his short time on the floor and the Bears needed every one of those points.
Drake quickly took advantage, with forward Jordan Clarke converting underneath, giving Drake a 7-6 lead.
Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace put a quick stamp on the game, hitting a three followed by a driving layup through traffic to put the Bears up 11-7 at 14.10.
The Bears continued to push the pace as Wallace hit a slicing Crabbe for a bucket to bring their lead to 8 at 15-7 before a Drake timeout with 12 minutes left in the half -Crabbe's first points of the game.
The Bears continued t build their lead to 23-13 before the Bulldogs began a run of their own, scoring six straight with a Gary Ricks three and cutting Cal's lead to 23-21 with six minutes left in the half.
A Riggs, Jr three at the 2:20 mark tied the game at 29.
The game went into the half knotted at 33, but with Cal in good position to take advantage of the aggressive Drake's foul trouble, with both Cater and Joey King with three fould and two others with a pair.
Drake took their first lead 36-35 a minute into the half on a 3-poiner by Chris Hines.
The Bulldogs later went on a 7-0 run fueled by questionable double technical on Solomon and Cal head coach Mike Montgomery protesting on the bench. Forward Ben Simons hit four straight free throws to give Drake a 47-44 lead five minutes into the half, putting Solomon on the bench again with his third foul.
Drake stretched the lead to 52-46 a minute later on a Simons trey and a pair of free throws by center Seth Van Deest.
A Carter three put Drake up eight at 62-54 with 8:30 in the contest and with both Solomon and forward David Kravish in foul trouble, the game felt like it was slipping away from the Bears.
However, with 6:44 remaining, the Bears kicked into gear. Cobbs was fouled in traffic and hit a pair of free throws, cutting Drake's lead to seven. Though he missed the front end of two one-on-ones, the junior guard came up big with 11-for-13 shooting from the line on the night.
Following the pair of free throws, the Bears forced a turnover and came back with an emphatic dunk by Solomon to cut the lead to five.
After a Clark bucket pushed the lead back out to seven, Crabbe came back with a three, followed by a Kravish steal, two more Cobbs free throws and an aggressive driving layup by senior point guard Brandon Smith, who converted the free throw for a 3-point play, giving the Bears the lead at 67-77.
After Drake tied it once more at 69-69 on a Seth Van Deesl short jumper then went ahead on a Clarke free throw, the Bears would take the lead for good on a Cobbs jumper from the key with 1:12 to play, finally winning by three at 73-70.
Cobbs led the Bears with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on the night with his tenacious play, looking perhaps the most NBA-ready player on the Bears' roster.
"Drake prepared for us well," said Cobbs. "They knew what we were doing and they jumped on screens to try and take Allen away. We're used to being able to get those shots. But down the stretch, we played good defense and Allen took out one of the best scorers and Brandon was really pressuring the ball so that was big on the defensive end. And on offense, our strong defense led to good offense, with us being able to get out on the break and get shots we're used to getting."
"Towards the end of the geme, we probably played the best defense we've played all year," said Montgomery. "Allen played probably the best defense I've seen from him on Simons (4-of-15, 13 points). They couldn't get him the ball. So defensively, we were able to get some shots, which is what we needed to do.
"We made some key plays and once we got a little momentum, it made a huge difference.
"My hat's off to Drake. They played very well and they were well-prepared for us. They gave us all we wanted. It was a pretty gutty win and a tough one."
The Bears will next play Georgia Tech in Friday night's semifina, a 54-34 winner over former Cal head coach Ben Braun's Rice Owls.
To view postgame interviews with Montomery, Cobbs and Crabbe, use the embedded viewer below: