Basketball: Golden Bears’ string of game-winning 3-point shots defies steep mathematical odds

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.


Rugby: Bears fall to U of British Columbia

Cal lost 19-6 to the University of British Columbia in the opening game of the “World Cup” series on Saturday at Witter Field.

The teams will meet March 22 in a rematch in Canada, but the Bears face an uphill climb to secure the Cup, which goes to the team with the best combined scoring margin for the two games.

“It was obviously a big step up in competition for us and at times we struggled to adjust to the pressure,” said Cal coach Jack Clark. “We were both forced into errors and got a bit panicky when we got in behind them a few times. Had we scored a couple of those tries which were one pass away, who knows, maybe we could have made a match of it.

“But take nothing away from UBC, they were the better team on the day.”


Basketball: One more time — Tarwater delivers as Bears win third straight on 3-point basket in final seconds

Cal senior Dwight Tarwater’s only regret after hitting the 3-point basket that beat UCLA 64-62 on Saturday was the effect it might have on his father back home in Tennesssee.

“He’ll probably start crying over the phone,” Tarwater said.

The Haas Pavilion crowd of 10,853 was cheering wildly — not crying — after the Bears won their third game in seven days on a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Sam Singer was the hero last Sunday at Washington, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4 seconds left. Tyrone Wallace hit the game-winner at the buzzer Thursday against USC.

This time, with 18.9 seconds left, it was Tarwater’s turn.

“The biggest shot of my life, for sure,” said the senior transfer from Cornell.

Cal (15-9, 5-6 Pac-12) sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers by Jabari Bird around a steal and layup by UCLA’s Norman Powell in the final 3 minutes, but still trailed 62-61 after a timeout with 32 seconds left.

Tarwater, who had made just two of his previous 13 shots from beyond the arc, came into the game five seconds earlier when senior David Kravish fouled out.

“I said during the timeout, `Dwight, be ready to shoot that ball,’ “ Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said.

With Wallace maneuvering at the top of the key, Tarwater and Bird crossed on the baseline, headed to opposite corners. Bird was late to his spot, but Wallace found Tarwater in the left corner.

As 6-foot-9 Kevon Looney lunged toward him, the 6-6 Tarwater hoisted a high-aching shot over his reach. “I was hoping it would go in,” Tarwater said, “and it did.”

Continue Reading


Basketball: Bears try to stretch win streak to four

Cal has avenged one defeat from its trip last month to Los Angeles.

Completing the package will be more difficult.

But the Bears (14-9, 4-6 Pac-12) enter Saturday’s 5 p.m. game vs. UCLA (14-9, 6-4) riding a three-game win streak after a 70-69 win over USC, made possible by Tyrone Wallace’s 3-point shot at the buzzer.

*** Click here for video highlights of Cal-USC, including Wallace’s game-winner  ***

Five days earlier, it was reserve guard Sam Singer whose 3-pointer with 4 seconds left beat Washington 90-88, giving the Bears a much-needed road sweep.

“We get these three wins . . . and the way we won, it really helps the psyche of your team,” coach Cuonzo Martin said Friday morning. “I think it really helps our guys figure out how you won the game. You have to be able to make plays in the last 2-3 minutes of a ballgame.”

UCLA dominated Cal at Pauley Pavilion, outscoring the Bears 42-28 in the second half on the way to a 73-54 win. The Bruins got double-digit scoring from all five starters, shot 53 percent, won the rebounding battle 40-34 and forced 16 turnovers.

“They’re a talented team. They played well at home,” Martin said. “I thought we had a solid first half. In the second half they jumped on us and it went down from there. We didn’t play well on the LA trip period.”

Continue Reading


Rugby: Cal renews old series vs. British Columbia

* Pac-12 Networks/Pac-12 International, Saturday, 2 p.m.

Cal’s rugby team renews its oldest rivalry Saturday when it faces the University of British Columbia in the opener of the 95th World Cup series at Witter Rugby Field.

The Bears (6-0) and Thunderbirds (8-1) meet at 2 p.m. on the field above Memorial Stadium.

“The old foe is back and they will be as difficult as ever,” Cal coach Jack Clark said.

The Cup series, named after the “World” newspaper of Vancouver, began in 1921 and consists of an annual home-and-home matchup of two of the most powerful collegiate programs in North America.

The teams meet in Vancouver on March 22 to complete the series. The winner is determined on the basis of combined scoring differential.

Cal has won 11 of the past 15 series vs. UBC and has not lost the matchup at home since 2004. The Thunderbirds won the Cup last season, beating the Bears 40-3 in Vancouver after Cal won 33-24 in Berkeley.

“I heard someone say the Bears will be tested against UBC,” Clark said. “I think it more like we will be chucked into the fire. This said, we can’t wait for the opportunity to compete against them.”

Cal has dominated West Coast opponents so far this season, winning its six games by a combined margin of 325-13. But B.C. plays on a different level.

Rugby is Cal’s oldest intercollegiate sport, dating back to 1882. The Bears have won 26 national championships in the tradtitional rugby 15s format.


Basketball: Cal’s NCAA title odds? Off the board

Here’s news that will shock you: Cal’s odds of winning the NCAA title this season are off the board, according to Bovada of Las Vegas.

Kentucky, the nation’s lone remaining unbeaten at 22-0, is now a scratch favorite: 1/1. Back in early November, Bovada listed the Wildcats as a 7/2 favorite.

Virginia is the next most likely NCAA champ at 15/2. Duke and Gonzaga are listed at 9/1 and Arizona is 10/1.

Stanford has slipped from 100/1 in November to 200/1. Cal, which was 300/1 two months ago, no longer is listed.


Basketball: Wallace’s game-winning at buzzer 3-pointer lifts Bears to wild victory over USC

FINAL SCORE: Cal 70, USC 69. A game-winning 3-pointer for the second time in five days. The Cal basketball team could get used to this.

“Any game-winner would be fine with me,” said Tyrone Wallace, whose 24-foot shot at the buzzer allowed the Bears to escape with a 70-69 win over USC.

Cal (14-9, 4-6) used a 3-pointer by Sam Singer with four seconds left to beat Washington 90-88 on Sunday. This one was even more frenetic.

Wallace missed a one-and-one free throw with 9.7 seconds left and the Bears trailing by one. After a timeout, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin made the first of two free throws for a 69-67 lead with 4.9 seconds left.

“I told them if he makes the second free throw we call a time out,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “If they miss it and we get a good outlet, you’ve got to go.”

David Kravish rebounded McLaughlin’s miss on the second free throw and passed ahead to Wallace, who dashed past mid-court and pulled up in front of defenders Malik Marquetti and Elijah Stewart.

“David made a great outlet,” Wallace said. “There were only four seconds left . . . I stopped, pump-faked, got the dude in the air and had space to get the shot off. It felt good.”

The announced crowd of 9,326 fans erupted as Wallace’s shot rippled through the net, and Cal’s student section rushed the floor, swamping the junior guard from Bakersfield.

Continue Reading


Football notebook: Why Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will be busier than ever going forward

Coach Sonny Dykes said adding running backs to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tony Franklin’s plate was a natural and easy move.

The change was prompted when Mark Tommerdahl, who coaches special teams and fullbacks, was promoted to assistant head coach. Tommerdahl will still oversee special teams, but also devote time to administrative work to assistant Dykes.

Running backs coach Pierre Ingram, meanwhile, was shifted to outside receivers, creating a need for a new running backs coach. Dykes said Franklin has worked with running backs in the past.

Now they will spend most of their time with Franklin, but also work with new offensive line coach Brandon Jones to study pass protections and “nuances” of the run game.

“But Tony will be their primary coach and it makes a lot of sense,” Dykes said. “The running backs and quarterback are right next to each other. It’s easy for one guy to coach both of those players.”


Dykes said offensive guard signee Semisi Uluave has made no decision on when – or whether – he will take an LDS mission trip.

“I’ve heard some speculation about that. That’s a possibility, but I don’t think he’s leaning one way or the other at all,” Dykes said. “It’s a personal decision. It’s up to him to see how he wants to do it. It’s very far from set in stone.”


Dykes, asked about former Cal safety Damariay Drew, said only that the Livermore native is not enrolled in classes at Berkeley.

Drew apparently still is trying to arrange an out-of-court settlement for his nearly year-old assault case. Because Drew is not a student at Cal, Dykes is not permitted to discuss him.


Football: Dykes praises new assistant Peeler

While talking up Cal’s 2015 recruiting class, coach Sonny Dykes gave credit to Jacob Peeler, the Bears’ newest fulltime assistant, for his good work.

Dykes confirmed that Peeler had a key hand in the recruitment of defensive end Russell Ude, wide receiver Brandon Singleton and defensive back DePriest “Trey” Turner.

“I was really impressed with Jacob,” Dykes said. “Kids really like him, kids trust him. He does a great job communicating and really enjoys it. I thought he did a great job. He knocked it out of the park. And I think he’s just getting started.”

Peeler spent his first two seasons at Cal as a graduate assistant working with Cal’s inside receivers. Now he has the primary assistant with that position group.

Promoted just weeks ago, after Rob Likens and Zach Yenser left for positions at Kansas, Peeler first gave Dykes a glimpse of his potential as a recruiter through his work as a GA. In that role, Peeler was able to communicate with potential recruits via phone and social media and meet with them on campus visits. A GA is not permitted to recruit off campus.

“Young people have a pretty good understanding of social media – certainly a better understanding than I do – and that’s the way these young people communicate with each other these days,” Dykes said. “He was able to make those connections and start to build those relationships even though he wasn’t allowed to be in their homes.

“He was talking to them every day. Before long, it became pretty apparent to me he was driving the bus on a lot of these recruits. It became apparent to me not only was he going to be an adequate recruiter had a chance to be a very good recruiter.”


Basketball: Singer’s shot capped big weekend for Cal’s previously dormant reserves

If you saw Cal’s celebration after Sam Singer’s game-winning 3-pointer at Washington, you got the feeling the Bears’ joy extended beyond winning a road game.

“Very happy for him,” teammate Tyrone Wallace confirmed. “It just goes to show that hard work will pay off.

“I can’t tell you the last time he made a 3. And for him to make the game-winning 3, that’s big. He’s constantly working in the gym. For him to be working as hard as he does and to not be making shots, it definitely bogs you down. I know it messes with him.

“For him to make that shot, it definitely lifted him up.”

Singer had made just 4 of 29 3-point attempts this season before drilling one from the top of the key with 4 seconds left to beat Washington 90-88.

Cal coach Cuonzo Martin was still beaming with pride over Singer two days later.

“You’re talking about one of the hardest workers on the team,” Martin said. “I was more happy as a dad than a coach to see Sam make that shot because I know the time he puts into it. I know the pressure he puts on himself to be successful.”

Singer’s big shot capped a weekend road sweep during which Cal’s bench – quiet for weeks – delivered 35 points in the two games.

Wallace said those kind of roster-wide contributions create a good feeling among everyone in the locker room.

“We learned that we need to lean on each other. During the losing streak, there was just so much pressure on a few of our guys. Guys weren’t scoring, guys weren’t playing well on defense. It was added pressure we don’t need,” he said.

“As a team, if somebody is struggling then somebody else has to step up and fill in. That’s what teammates are for. Those two games, we had a lot of fun together, played well together, everybody was happy. That’s how it should be.”