Here’s my story from the Friday editions after Cal’s overtime defeat of USC that boosted the Bears into a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 standings. Quite a game.
(Note: My apologies for a mistake in the fourth paragraph. Patrick Christopher inbounded the ball off the back of USC’s Dwight Lewis, not Daniel Hackett, as virtually all of us along press row believed).
And from the L.A. Times, a look at how USC’s NCAA Tournament hopes are fading.
Cal 81, USC 78, OT
HEADLINER: Junior guard Patrick Christopher, coming off a 3-for-15 shooting performance in Cal’s loss at Oregon State last Saturday, made his first six shots from the field, then scored eight points in overtime, finishing with a career-high 29 points.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED: There were so many of them. But kudos to freshman Jorge Gutierrez, who continues to show himself as a clutch player after making two FTs with 16.4 seconds left in overtime, pushing Cal’s lead to 79-75. Had he missed just one of them, Daniel Hackett’s ensuing 3-pointer would have tied the score for USC. Instead, the Bears retained a one-point, and Christopher iced the win by hitting two FTs with 5 seconds left.
MAGIC NUMBER: 16 _ The number of consecutive free throws the Bears made to finish the game, including 8-for-8 in the overtime period. Cal wound up 24-for-27 from the line, compared to 16-for-28 by the Trojans.
NEXT UP: The Bears (21-7, 10-5) play their home finale Saturday at 6 p.m. against three-time defending Pac-10 champion UCLA (21-7, 10-5). The Bears and Bruins share second place with Arizona State, and Cal certainly has the rougher road ahead, with two games in Arizona next weekend. Both UCLA and ASU finish up at home. But on Saturday, the Bears will rely on their 16-1 record at Haas Pavilion, a sellout crowd and the chance to possibly — if all falls right — move within a half-game of the conference lead. If you don’t have a ticket, the game will be shown on ESPN.