Basketball: Bears climb to fifth place

This was one the Bears could have lost. Maybe should have lost.

Instead, they rallied from a 16-point first-half  hole and zoomed to an 81-71 victory over Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena, bumping them into sole possession of fifth place in the Pac-10 standings.

“We were lucky to be down 11 at the half,” coach Mike Montgomery said. “I hate to say that, but we were. It could have been a lot worse.”

Cal (15-13, 8-8) can clinch an overall winning record by beating Oregon State on Saturday in Corvallis.  The Bears routed OSU 85-57 last month in Berkeley.

The Beavers (10-16, 5-10) beat Stanford 87-80 on Thursday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

Defense turned around the game at Eugene and led to Cal’s seventh straight win over the Ducks.

Oregon led 40-24 after 16 minutes and was doing pretty much what it wanted. The Bears outscored the Ducks 55-31 the rest of the way. After shooting 57 percent in the first half, the Ducks were limited to 42 percent  in the second half, including 2 for 11 from 3-point range.

The Bears converted 62.5 percent in the second half and had just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes after coughing up nine in the first half.

A few individual numbers:

— Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez, coming off his 34-point performance against UCLA and averaging 22.2 ppg through the month of February, scored just seven first-half points. He revved it up to score 16 in the second half to finish with 23, along with five assists. He has scored double digits in nine straight games.

— Sophomore point guard Brandon Smith had a career-high 18 points, including 4 for 5 from 3-point range, and dished out six assists. His 3-pointer with about 4 minutes left gave Cal the lead for good.

— Freshman guard Allen Crabbe, who missed both his 3-point attempts against UCLA in his first game back from a concussion, made 4 of 8 from deep and scored 19 points, 13 of them in the second half.

Click here for updated Pac-10 standings.

Jeff Faraudo

  • Ozone

    This was a real character building win. The kids really toughed out their early game struggles and willed themselves to victory in an extremely hostile environment. I am intrigued by the future of this team and the rise of Smith as a legitimate D1 point guard only makes the Bears future that much brighter.

  • Uh Huh!

    That was an awesome comeback!
    When Cal was down, I was not down on them. Instead, I was understanding how Oregon had climbed climbed up to .500 in the Pac10 standings. Impressive, they were.

    But Cal was more impressive not only in how they came back to eventually win the game, but how they kept their composure and steadiness. I once again give credit to coach Montgomery. So many others would have folded, and you see it in the quality of play. But we never became lackadaisical despite getting crushed initially.

    We gave some games away we could have won before: AU (twice), WSU, and UCLA. Notch this one up on the other side of the ledger.

  • Uh Huh!

    BRANDON SMITH, dogged by Yours Truly fairly heavily until about a month ago, CLEARLY gets his first Game Ball. He has righted his 3 pt shooting in a huge way. After hitting only 1 of 9 over the first 18 games, he is 15 of 24 over the past 10. That’s 62.5% over an extended time period!!! And while his free throw shooting remains a bit of an issue for me, he has made 9 straight over the past 4 games (though did not shoot any vs. UCLA).

    Consider me shut up, thank you very much!
    I love it. Dude shut me up – in my face!

  • covinared

    consistent outside shooting is our biggest weakness, and it appears it is getting better with Jorge driving and dishing to Smith. Lets win out!