And Montgomery had to especially like the performance of point guard Justin Cobbs down the stretch. The senior made big play after big play to help the Bears open Pac-12 Conference play with a 69-62 victory.
“I thought the kids held their poise pretty well,” said Montgomery, who moved into a tie with Pete Newell on fourth place on Cal’s all-time with list with 119. “We made some big plays down the stretch and were able to come ahead in the thing. We played a lot of combinations of people that had not played very much. To their credit, they held up very nicely.”
The Bears fell behind 12-4 less than four minutes into the game, but mounted a comeback behind Tyrone Wallace. The sophomore made four 3-pointers in the first half, when he scored 14 of his career-high tying 20 points.
Cal took its first lead at 19-18 with 12:09 remaining in the first half and led by eight at 51-43 with 11:03 remaining. But with the Bears holding a 54-49 advantage, Stanford’s Anthony Brown made a 3-pointer as Jordan Mathews was being whistled for a flagrant foul on Dwight Powell. Powell made one of the two free throws, and then Chasson Randle nailed a jumper on the Cardinal’s ensuing possession to give Stanford a 55-54 lead.
Stanford extended it to 56-54, but that’s when Cobbs took over. He scored nine of Cal’s final 15 points, assisted on a dunk by Richard Solomon and registered a key steal and forced turnover.
“The coaches told me to be aggressive,” Cobbs said. “I had the ball in my hands a lot of the time and it worked out for me. I was able to get the ball in the right spots and make plays.”
Cobbs’ 3-point play with 3:31 left put Cal back in front, 57-56. After the Cardinal had cut it to 65-62, the Bears ran the shot clock down and Cobbs nailed a pull-up jumper to make it 67-62 with 25 seconds remaining. Cobbs then forced Randle into a turnover, and he made two more free throws to ice the game.
“Justin has made big shots,” Montgomery said. “He’s pretty good in those situations. Sometimes, he’s more of a reluctant shooter than I think he should be. He should probably look to shoot the ball a little more.”
Cobbs finished with 18 points and five assists while Solomon had his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Powers had five points, four rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. Behrens also had four rebounds while tying a career-high with 12 minutes.
“That’s what a team is about,” Cobbs said. “Guys who aren’t used to playing many minutes came in and contributed in a positive way. That’s what makes a team.”