Three consecutive Cal victories made possible by last-second 3-point baskets would have been amazing had even the Bears’ best perimeter shooter — Jordan Mathews — taken those three shots.
But Mathews was involved in none of them.
Instead, the Bears beat Washington, USC and UCLA on 3-pointers converted by Sam Singer, Tyrone Wallace and Dwight Tarwater — none of them regarded as elite deep shooters.
What were the odds of it all happening?
The answer: 1.4 percent.
In other words, if identical circumstances unfolded 100 times, the Bears would fail to win all three games via those shots on (more than) 98 of 100 occasions.
It’s simple math, really. I took each player’s season 3-point shooting percentage at that moment and multiplied them.
Singer, who had made just 4 of 29 shots from the 3-point line when he beat Washington, was converting .1379 from the arc.
Wallace, Cal’s best all-around player, nonetheless had made just 20 of 62 from 3-point range when he released his game-winner against USC. That’s .3226.
And Tarwater had made 18 of 58 before beating UCLA, a success rate of .3103.
So here’s the equation: .1379 x .3226 x .3103 = .0138.
Rounded, that comes to 1.4 percent.
My calculations do not include variables such as the impact of a specific defense or crowd noise, which would be virtually impossible to factor.
Nor do they reflect whether that player was in the midst of hot or cold streak at the time. For instance, Tarwater had made just two of his previous 13 3-pointers, which works out to .1538. That’s barely half of his season percentage that I used in the equation.
Likewise, the calculations do not suggest that any of the players’ independent chances of making his shot was just 1.4 percent.
But for all three to get it done? Barely one chance in a 100.
And yet they did.