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Basketball: Bears’ season ends with last-second 67-65 loss at SMU in NIT quarterfinals

Justin Cobbs hit a go-ahead 3-point shot with 15.4 seconds left, but the Bears couldn’t close out a win at SMU in their NIT quarterfinal game.

Nic Moore answered with a 3-pointer of his own with six seconds left and the Mustangs claimed a 67-65 win and a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals.

The Bears’ season ends at 21-14.

Cal trailed by as many as seven points early in the second half, but rallied behind a 20-point performance from freshman Jabari Bird. Cobbs seemed to delivered his third game-winning shot in two years before Moore came through for the Mustangs (26-9).  

Cobbs had 18 points and seven assists in his final game for Cal. The senior point guard moved into second place on Cal’s career assists list with 531, passing Jerome Randle (524). He trails only Keith Smith, who had 546 in four seasons 1987 through ’90.

With 204 assists this season, Cobbs became just the second Cal player besides Jason Kidd (who did it twice) to top 200 assists. (Name the other and win a cookie!)

He also wound up 11th on the Bears’ all-time scoring list with 1,469 career points. 

For those who wonder if the NIT is a waste of time, consider what these three games likely mean to Bird. He scored 50 points in the NIT, 39 the past two games, to enter the offseason feeling confident after a rough, up-and-down rookie campaign.

Bird scored 15 second-half points against SMU, finishing the game 8 for 13 from the field, 3 for 6 from beyond the arc. Over the past two games, he was 15 for 21 from the field.

The five-star recruit out of Salesian-Richmond began the year well, averaging 11.3 points over the first 12 games. Then he suffered an ankle sprain that sidelined him four games, and he struggled to regain his rhythm and confidence.

Over the next 16 games, Bird averaged just 4.4 points.

But his offensive performances against Arkansas on Monday and SMU were two of his best of the season.

David Kravish, who also returns next season, had 14 points and eight rebounds. But with senior Richard Solomon out for the third straight game with a concussion, the Bears were hammered 35-22 on the boards. SMU actually had more offensive rebounds (17) than Cal had defensive rebounds (16).

Junior guard Ricky Kreklow, who broke his nose in the Arkansas game, played while wearing a protective mask but shot 0 for 4 and scored just two points.

Markus Kennedy had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead coach Larry Brown’s Mustangs.

*****

The answer: Prenctice McGruder, who had 205 assists in 1996-97.

Jeff Faraudo

  • 1brsfan

    It was a great effort and they played as well as they have all year. I finally saw some passion/heart out of the team during this NIT run that was missing during the last few weeks of the regular season. Good springboard for next season. Go Bears!

  • Steve Fischer

    Passion- Jorge Gutierrez was ejected from the game last night with a flagrant foul 2 on Cody Zeller. from CBS

    Brooklyn’s Jorge Gutierrez was ejected from the game with 6:42
    left in the fourth quarter after a flagrant two foul against Cody Zeller.
    Zeller grabbed an offensive rebound and Gutierrez came down hard
    with both hands on Zeller’s shoulders, sending the 7-footer
    crashing to the hardwood.

    ”I watched the replay and
    it looked pretty bad – but that wasn’t my intention to do that,”
    Gutierrez said. ”Coach always says `Nothing easy. Make them earn
    it on the free throw line.’ I was just trying to do a hard
    play.”

  • Eric

    Agreed. SMU had a better case for making the NCAAs than we did, and it was a hard fought, well played game. While a disappointing season overall, no complaints on the NIT performance.

  • GoBears49

    Jorge is starting to get some good minutes in over half of the games and is shooting 61% for the year. I think the Nets will keep him this year. http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/2327449/jorge-gutierrez

  • GoBears49

    Will present my summary next fall of how Monty stands against other schools during his six year tenure at Cal. I believe he is tied with Arizona with four NCAA appearances, is the only one with six total NCAA and NIT appearances, and probably has the best overall win – loss record (but I haven’t done the computational work on that yet). Also, I think he is the only coach that has produced a fourth place finish or better during the league season. Where he falls down, a lot, is in his production of NCAA wins. So, overall, Monty has gotten us the NCAA invitations we want but has not produced up to expectations in terms of performance at that tournament. But he clearly is the best Cal coach ever after Pete Newell.

  • Rollonubears

    might be good to look at how we’ve done against top 25 schools, too.

  • Rollonubears

    grr. i keep forgetting about my promise to stack comments.

  • GoBears49

    I’ll let you figure that out, though I agree that would be a useful stat.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Tough loss. Most played well, certainly Cobbs and Bird. Wallace though did not, and this was the difference down the stretch. In the last few minutes of the game he had a charge, an ill-timed clanked 3 after Jabari was on fire and had made a few in a row, an airball on a drive and he tripped and fell on the last play of the game, getting in Cobbs way and allowing the open 3. Not trying to pick on him, but I wonder if he belongs on the court at the end of games…if you watch the game vs Utah you will see very similar failures on his part at the end that game too. His ego is too big, he sees Jabari and Cobbs scoring and he thinks he can do it too – he can’t, at least not consistently. I blame many of the close losses on this. Why he can’t be content to be the best defender on the floor, score in transition and shoot 3′s WHEN THEY ARE AVAILABLE, is beyond me. He has limited offensive potential and is prone to play out of control, but we know this, moving on…

    Jabari needs to learn to NOT put his toe on that dang 3 point line. I think he would have had 2 more 3′s if he doesn’t do that, and then the 3 at the end just ties the game…

    All in all it was a frustrating season, a season of potential that was not realized. I hope we can add one more recruit to 2014, someone that brings the energy every single game, someone that wants to do the little things to win. Does Harper Kamp have a little brother? That was what was missing this season, the little things that win games.

    Go Bears!

  • GoBears49

    I think Wallace was, along with Cobbs, our best guy in driving to the basket. He is problematic as a shooter outside, but was certainly better this year than last. Given Wallace’s inside skills (with either hand), I hope Monty considers trying to post him up inside. I think he would be much too quick to be guarded by most big men. Even if he doesn’t do a quick move inside, his deadly jump hook in the lane would not be able to be blocked by most big men, given Wallace’s long arms and jumping ability

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Agreed. The closer Wallace is to the hoop the better…

  • Mitch

    How good was Jabari Bird? Very encouraging for next year.
    I enjoyed the year. Thanks Bears! Thanks Jeff.

  • Steve Fischer

    Why not just get Pete Newell? This year against Top 25 I think we were 1-4 or 1-5. Why not count his record at Stanford too?
    What you don’t get is we are talking about NOW not what he did in the past with Braun’s recruits. We are not one of the Top 6 teams in our conference today and we wont be better next year. We have a losing record vs the Top 25 -even going back a few years and perhaps vs the Top 50 as well.

  • Steve Fischer

    How about records for clutch important games? We lsot 3 of the last 4 last year ( including tourney games), and 4 out of 5 the year before. We ended this season as bad or worse.

  • GoBears49

    If you do that for all of the other element teams in the league for the last six years, and publish it, I’ll take a stab at it for the Bears. Cheers.

  • GoBears49

    BTW, for those interested in computing what Cal’s overall win – loss record has been over the past six years compared to other teams in the league, they can do that by going to the Wikipedia Cal basketball history website, shown below. To get the last six years of records for other schools in the league, go to the section of the article entitled “Records vs. Pac 12 opponents” and click on the name of the some other Pac 12 school, which will immediately transfer you to the Wikipedia basketball history website for that other team. If someone else does that work, I thank you in advance, though it shouldn’t take long.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Golden_Bears_men's_basketball

  • eastcoastbear

    Seems to me that If Monty had been able to recruit A Gordon that with the front line Cal then would have had Cobbs and Wallace in the backcourt and Bird off the bench we could have made a deep run into the NCAA tourney rather than the NIT…. Monty is great coach no doubt but he badly needs recruiting help…Might be a good idea to look at some transfers as well like Oregon did this year…Braun was actually good at that…

  • Steve Fischer

    Each year we do a bit worse, each year more teams leap ahead of us. This is why Monty’s apologists are scurrying to look back 5-6 years when the Pac 12 was at its low and we weren’t in the bottom six.
    “If monty had been able to recruit” ??? He’s not considering we are a major conf school in a nice media market.
    “If”? IF AZ didn’t have a sudden injury to Ashely we would have gotten smoked and been 0-5 vs the Top 25.
    “If Japan hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor…..”

    Monty is washed up and the longer we stay with him and Barbour the longer our football and basketball programs will suffer.

  • Eric

    You may get your wish Steve – espn.com is reporting Monty may be retiring and will be discussing with Barbour tomorrow. Allegedly Cal has hired a search firm.