Cal’s second road win of the Pac-10 season (in five tries) sends the team back to Berkeley with the knowledge it has four straight games at Haas Pavilion.
The Oregon schools visit this week — first the Beavers, then the Ducks — and Cal (10-9, 3-4) has a legitimate shot at finishing the first round of the Pac-10 schedule above .500 at 5-4. Then two more at home against the Arizona schools.
“It feels a little better to get that win on the road, but what we have to do is bring that intensity at home,” junior forward Harper Kamp said. “We might relax a little bit at home, might be a little bit too comfortable at times. On the road we feel kind of threatened, backs against the wall, and that causes us to fight a little bit.
“We have to bring that same mentality home for this next stretch. That’ll be key if we can make a good run.”
FREE THROWS: The Bears were an ordinary 17 for 28 from the free throw line and missed four of six in the final 33.6 seconds, allowing USC to stay close after Cal took a 66-60 lead into the final minute. Brandon Smith missed a pair, then Kamp and Allen Crabbe each missed one of two.
“They did a good job of execute down the stretch and me and Allen each missed a free throw, and that can be key in a game like that,” Kamp said. “I’m just glad that didn’t come back to bite us because I would have been miserable if they had come back in that one.”
BAK IS BIG: Sophomore forward Bak Bak scored seven points, six of them late in the first half to key Cal’s first comeback. He also had three rebounds and helped defensively when Cal went big in a zone defense. It was his biggest contribution in a Pac-10 game.
“Bak is someone I know can come in and do his thing,” Kamp said. “He’s long and he’s talented. He’s just got to come in and have the right mindset and bring that energy like he did today. He did a great job of giving us a little boost.”
SPEAKING OF KAMP: The junior forward has scored at least 18 points in four consecutive games, the most consistently productive stretch of his career. Kamp, who had 19 against USC after scoring 21 at UCLA, is averaging 19.5 over the past four games.
He has scored in double digits eight straight games and 14 times in 19 games this season.