Out of nowhere, Crabbe flew down the lane and controlled the rebound, and passed it back out to Cobbs, who ran the clock down further before he found Richard Solomon under the basket for a high-percentage shot. Solomon threw down the dunk to give the Golden Bears a three-point advantage.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery called a timeout, and then called another just to be certain his team knew how to execute the defense.
Everyone expected Roberto Nelson (10-for-16), the leading scorer on the floor with 25 points, to get the ball and try to draw a foul -- OSU is not a deep-shooting team. Instead, it was Devon Collier who flashed to the basket -- and it was Robert Thurman who tallied his second block of the game.
"I hit nothing but ball," Thurman said. "And, the refs didn't call it, which is all that matters."
7.3 seconds remained. The Beavers were clearly seeking a three-point shot at that point, but somehow the ball wound up in the hands of 275-pound Joe Burton, their high-post center.
"I'm going to take the blame on that," said Beavers coach Craig Robinson, "I should have called a timeout there." Oregon State had set up a play, at the prior timeout, for a three-point shot if their try for two failed, but did not call one in the waning seconds, and the Beavers never got off a shot.
"Paying attention to details," said Justin Cobbs, who finished the night with 14 points and a team-high seven assists, "the little things, this game was a prime example. We take pride in our defense, we didn't want to let them get a shot up at the end. I'm hopeful that shows people what kind of defense we can play when we put our minds to it as a team."
It sounded like Cobbs might have been talking more to his teammates than to the assembled media.
He wasn't the only person talking to his teammates.
Cal started, and ended, the first half shooting well, 6-for-8 and then 6-for-9. But in between, they went all Colorado, shooting 2-for-15 and putting the Beavers in control at the half, 41-33. This was the first game Cal has won all season when trailing at the half.
And when Nelson hit a basket with 15:49 left in the game, Montgomery took full advantage of the lengthy TV timeout to lay into his team.
Thurman said, "Monty really let us have it -- we needed it. He just basically told us we needed to focus, we were letting a lot of easy things go we had practiced all week -- back door cuts, easy layups. The way we were playing at the time, there was no way we were going to come back. But then we played really good defense, and when we play good defense our offense usually comes with it."
Montgomery, when asked about the "conversation," joked, "you can't handle the truth." But then he elaborated. "We had a discussion, they seemed to react well, they got more aggressive. We had to make some shots, and we did, in the midst of playing good defense.
"We were just getting our butts kicked, and I explained that in no uncertain terms. There's no excuse for sitting back and letting that happen. We had to be the aggressor."
How little aggression did they show? Oregon State only committed three fouls in the first half, and two were offensive.†
"I was thinking we weren't going to get ANY free throws," Montgomery said. "Some of that was all the shots from the perimeter. †I reminded the officials, I'm not sure they like that either. There was some they didn't call, but it wasn't blatant." Cal wound up a perfect 2-for-2 from the stripe.
The Golden Bears did take by far their most three-point shots in a game, 26, hitting a season-high nine, but the more important statistic on the night was the team's season-high 25 assists on 30 field goals.
"When you assist on 25 of 30, you are getting good ball movement," said an obviously pleased Montgomery.†
Nine Bears played, and eight collected assists -- even Jeff Powers, who collided with Jarmal Reid of Oregon State going after a rebound and had to be helped off the court. Price said after the game the doctors told him, "It's a meniscus (left knee), and maybe an MCL." While Montgomery said after the game he didn't know if Powers would be available Saturday, the brace on his knee and crutches suggested that it's more likely that the redshirt junior's season is severely curtailed, if not over.
Crabbe finished the night with 15 points to lead Cal, but was just 1-for-7 in the second half with four points -- the free throws were his, and he converted both. Even that meager scoring total pushed him past graduate manager Theo Robertson on Cal's all-time scoring list. Crabbe now has 1,325 points, and needs 19 to pass Jackie Ridgle for 15th place.
Richard Solomon had a solid night, as he was much more active on the floor than he has been in recent games. He finished the night with 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting and added seven rebounds and two assists.
Thurman had a rock-solid game off the bench, with eight points (on 4-of-4 shooting) and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
"Finishing is the key," Montgomery said of Thurman, and his post men in general. "If you get the ball to Robert in the right spot, he will finish. He doesn't like certain things - you can't put him in a position where he has to make decisions. He tends to want to put the ball on the floor and it disappears."
The win gave Montgomery 100 while at Berkeley, making him the fifth Cal coach to reach the milestone (Nibs Price, Pete Newell, Ben Braun and Lou Campanelli are the others). Nobody seemed too impressed - after all, Monty was the fifth Cal coach to win 99 games, also.
"To be honest," said an astonished Cobbs, "I had no idea, but congratulations, Coach. He's happy with any win, regardless of what type."
Montgomery dismissed it, "I'm not sure it's a momentous occasion - I thought I'd passed that a while back."
The win brought Cal back to .500 in the conference at 4-4, three games back of Oregon, who was handled easily by Stanford Wednesday night for their first conference loss.†
"Stanford showed Oregon's not invincible," said Thurman. "People showed up today, this game showed us just because we are down we are not out, we are looking for a big crowd Saturday."