Dec. 18, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California coach Mike Montgomery expected his team to have some scoring problems against Cal Poly. He just didn't anticipate it lasting almost the entire game.
And with No. 3 Kansas coming to town next week, it's something the Golden Bears better fix in a hurry.
Jorge Gutierrez overcame a terrible shooting night to make a key 3-pointer with 1:09 left to play as California held on to beat Cal Poly, 51-41, on Saturday.
The Bears (6-4) shot just 38.6 percent from the field as a team, but outscored the Mustangs, 12-2, over the final three minutes.
"To their credit, that's what they do," Montgomery said of Cal Poly. "They make it difficult to play. I don't know what you can do differently. Obviously, if you shoot the ball better or take advantage and make your free throws, it would make it more difficult for them to do that, but that's what they do."
Granted, the Mustangs held No. 11 San Diego State to 51 points and under 40 percent shooting in a six-point loss to the Aztecs on Monday. But this one was more about Cal's lack of offense than it was Cal Poly's defense.
Until their final burst, the Bears were struggling offensively and staring at the possibility of a third straight loss at Haas Pavilion. They committed 13 turnovers, made only 4 of 12 3-point attempts and missed eight free throws before going 3 of 4 from the line over the final 49 seconds.
"It felt slow, which is the way they wanted to play," said Markhuri Sanders-Frison, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. "It looked like we were kind of out of sorts a little bit on certain plays. We were missing some easy shots."
Sanders-Frison was a key reason Cal avoided losing. He recorded his second career double-double and had an assist on Allen Crabbe's tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2:57 remaining.
Gutierrez finished with 10 points on 4 of 14 shooting to help the Bears snap a two-game losing streak at home. The win was also the 599th of Montgomery's career, sixth most among active Division I coaches.
Shawn Lewis scored 16 points for Cal Poly (3-7) and moved within 36 of becoming the 15th player in Mustangs history to reach 1,000 for his career.
The loss was the fourth in a row for Cal Poly.
"We have to get over the glass ceiling of being proud about playing somebody close," Mustangs coach Joe Callero said. "When the game is tied with three and a half minutes, we have an equal chance of winning that game. We didn't get it done defensively or offensively."
Cal Poly shot just 29.4 percent overall and was held to its lowest point total since getting beat 67-40 by Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 14, 2008. California wasn't much better, committing 13 turnovers while being held to a season-low in scoring.
The slow-paced game contrasted sharply to the final three minutes when the Bears put together their best run after the Mustangs tied the game at 39-39 following a goaltending call against Cal's Harper Kamp.
Freshman Allen Crabbe broke the tie with a 3-pointer, his only points of the game, before Sanders-Frison followed up a Gutierrez miss with an easy layup to make it 44-39. After Shawn Lewis was called for charging, Gutierrez made his 3-pointer and Kamp followed with a pair of free throws to help the Bears seal the win.
That was critical for Cal, which hosts No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday. The Jayhawks, who held off an upset bid by USC on Saturday, hold a 15-3 edge in the all-time series with the Bears.
That the game against Kansas will be in Haas Pavilion is key, too. The Bears went 15-1 at home in 2009, but had dropped two straight before holding off the Mustangs in the first meeting between the two schools since the opener of the 2003-04 season.
Cal Poly led 4-3 after Will Donahue's layup with 13:28 remaining in the first half, but did little after that. The Mustangs missed 15 of their next 17 attempts from the floor and shot just 15.4 percent (4 of 26) overall before halftime.
The 12 points in the first half are a season-low for Cal Poly, which scored just 15 in the loss to San Diego State.
Cal was only 5 of 19 shooting in the first half, and committed nine turnovers to only five for the Mustangs. But the Bears grabbed 24 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes and held Cal Poly to just three offensive boards while taking a 19-12 lead into the break.
The poor shooting continued into the second half for both teams until a late burst by the Mustangs tied the score at 39-39 with 3:37 remaining. David Hanson, Cal Poly's leading scorer who had only two points through the first 35 minutes of the game, made a 3-pointer and Chris O'Brien scored on consecutive trips down the floor, including the shot that tied the game when Kamp was called for goaltending.
Hanson finished with seven points while Donahue had eight points and matched his career high with 13 rebounds.