Nov. 25, 2010
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - So much for rebuilding.
"Since day one, we just told people that we're going to surprise a lot of people," said Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison, who had eight points. "Everybody thought that we didn't have that much firepower coming back because we lost a lot of our good players last year. I think this win opened a lot of eyes to people around the world."
The Golden Bears (3-0) were propelled by a 16-1 run late in the second half to help the defending Pac-10 champions hand the Owls (2-1) their first loss of the season. Crabbe ripped the ball away from Rhalir Jefferson with about 30 seconds remaining, and he hit two free throws to give Cal a six-point lead and seal the victory.
Lavoy Allen had 13 points, and Jefferson scored 10 for a Temple team whose non-conference schedule is only getting tougher. Cal will play Notre Dame on Friday. Temple will face Georgia in the loser's bracket of the tournament.
The Owls had cruised through their first two games, but their schedule isn't getting any easier. No. 1 Duke, No. 7 Villanova, No. 16 Georgetown and Maryland are all upcoming for the Owls.
Not exactly the start they were hoping for on this tough stretch.
"We had some pretty open shots that we missed," Allen said. "The offense started getting stagnant a little bit. We did a bad job on defense. We gave them a couple open 3's and they hit them. It killed us. We did a bad job of maintaining the lead and a bad job of finishing off the game."
The opener was a relatively tight game most of the way.
Cal sprinted out to a seven-point lead in the first few minutes, but that quickly fizzled. Khalif Wyatt had consecutive baskets to end the first half, giving Temple a 25-23 lead at the break.
The Owls went ahead 45-38 with less than eight minutes remaining on back-to-back layups by Jefferson. That would match the biggest lead either team would hold.
The Golden Bears responded by going on a 16-1 run, including 12 straight, with strong defense and streaky shooting on a night they were otherwise cold. Temple did not make a field goal for almost six minutes during that stretch.
"They defended us well those last seven minutes and they made the shots that they needed to make," Owls coach Fran Dunphy.
It was a huge win for a Cal program that was supposed to be in almost complete rebuilding mode this season.
Five seniors from last season's conference title team are gone, including Pac-10 player of the year and leading scorer Jerome Randle, second-leading scorer Patrick Christopher and top 3-point shooter Theo Robertson. All of them played key roles in the school's first conference title in 50 years.
That leaves a young, inexperienced roster featuring six freshmen for a team that earned back-to-back NCAA tournament berths in coach Mike Montgomery's first two seasons.
Their toughest test yet was certainly a success.
"I don't know what a rebuilding year is," Montgomery said. "All I know is we start two freshman and come off the bench with a whole lot more, and I've never done that before."