They say basketball is a game of runs, and that old adage was certainly on display on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. Trailing by six with about four minutes remaining in the game, the California Golden Bears closed the game on a 10-0 run, securing a thrilling 58-54 win over the first place Oregon Ducks.
The students poured onto the floor at the final buzzer, engulfing the happy Cal players.
“It was like nothing I've ever done before, that was crazy,” said a smiling David Kravish.
“I've been here for three years and we've never had anything like that,” added Richard Solomon. “It felt kind of good.” Cal defeated a top ten team for the first time since 2008.
Solomon played one of his best games at Cal, with 13 points, 12 rebounds and a blocked shot. He was one of three Bears in double figures. Allen Crabbe had 13 points, Tyrone Wallace contributed 12.
Cal won this game on the defensive end, overcoming their 35.6% shooting from the floor for the game. They took advantage of the absence of Oregon starting point guard Dominic Artis to force the visitors into 22 turnovers. The Bears scored 25 points off those turnovers, and held the Ducks to just six fast break points.
They also kept the Ducks off the offensive boards. The visitors had just four offensive rebounds, converting them into three second-chance points. Coach Mike Montgomery felt that keeping them off the offensive boards and preventing easy fast break points were the keys to the game.
“More than anything, it's the way that we were able to win because obviously, we weren't very smooth offensively,” said Montgomery after the game. “I thought we hung in defensively, which is a huge step for us, because that's something we have to do if we are going to have a chance. We've got to defend.”
Despite their poor shooting, Cal was down by just three at the half, 27-24. Eleven Oregon turnovers kept it close. Cal quickly tied it up after the break, and when Ty Wallace connected from beyond the arc in transition, the home team led 42-39.
Oregon coach Dana Altman called a time-out with just over 11 minutes to play, and the game turned.
Over the next five minutes, the Ducks scored 11 straight points, as Cal turned it over five times. Four of those miscues came on consecutive possessions. With the visitors leading 50-42, David Kravish hit a jumper in the lane at the 6:22 mark to end the Oregon run. Cal then cut the lead to two, but Oregon stabilized and led by six, 54-48 with just over four minutes on the clock when Tony Woods scored on a post-up. The Ducks never scored again.
Richard Solomon converted a pair at the line, and after a Duck miss, Cobbs converted a put-back to cut the lead to two. Wallace stole the ball from Damyean Dotson, and Crabbe raced down court to lay it in to tie the score at 54 with two and a half minutes to play.
E.J. Singler then missed a three point shot, and Solomon grabbed the key rebound. Cobbs came up big again, taking advantage of Jonathan Loyd giving him room, to stick a jumper from the left wing to give the Bears a 56-54 lead with 1:36 remaining.
Oregon called time-out with the clock at 1:26. They ran the shot clock down, but Loyd missed a jumper under heavy pressure, and Solomon rebounded. Cal in turn ran the shot clock down, but Solomon's baseline jumper was an airball and Oregon had another chance. Altman called time with 16.5 seconds showing on the clock.
Singler got a good look at a three, but he missed again. Woods grabbed the offensive board, but when he tried to go back up, Kravish got his hand on top of the ball. The referees ruled a held ball, and Cal took over on the alternating possession.
“I was boxing my guy out, and I saw the ball come up,” said Kravish. “I didn't have the timing to jump up for it, but he (Woods) kind of brought the ball down, and I had my hand on it. I knew we had (the possession arrow) so I was really excited when they called a jump ball.”
The Ducks had to foul and Cobbs converted both free throws. Loyd missed a long three at the buzzer and it was over.
The announced attendance of 9,457 was the largest home crowd of the season. “I thought the crowds for both games (OSU and this one) were really good, they were really into it,” said Montgomery. “Both teams were competing. It was a defensive game all the way around.”
Cal makes the turn at the halfway point at 5-4 in conference play. This win will give them confidence as they head into the second half, starting with a trip to Arizona next week.
- Tony Woods led Oregon with 14 points and eight rebounds. Arsalan Kazemi, the transfer from Rice, had six points and six boards.
- Oregon finished the game shooting 47.6%, but their turnovers destroyed them.
- Neither team shot well from distance. Oregon was 2-of-12, and Cal 4-of 17.
- It was Cal's 10th consecutive win over the Ducks.