Golden Eagles Edge Out Bears, 80-78
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  12/12/2010

Dec. 12, 2010

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Gary Flowers scored the final 12 points for Southern Mississippi,including a 3-foot turnaround jumper off the backboard with 3 seconds left, lifting the Golden Eagles to an 80-78 win over California on Sunday.

Flowers finished with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, Josimar Ayarza added 17 and LaShay Page scored 12 for Southern Miss (7-1), which has won twice following its only loss of the season.

"I've never been more proud of any player I've ever had," Golden Eagles coach Larry Eustachy said. "This is his team and he wants to be the guy. But what comes with that is a lot of responsibility, and he's earned it."

Harper Kamp scored 20 points for California (5-4),which missed two free throws in the final 45 seconds. Jorge Gutierrez also missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer when his shot bounced off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

Southern Miss trailed 73-68 with 3:25 remaining when Flowers took over.

The senior forward, who scored a career-high 31 points in a 100-71 win over Alcorn State on Dec. 1, scored on a short jumper before Cal's Nigel Carter made a 3-pointer. Flowers answered with another short jumper, then made two free throws before stealing an inbounds pass by the Bears and scoring to tie the game at 76.

After Gutierrez missed one of his free-throw attempts, Flowers made a pair from the line to give the Eagles a 78-77 lead. Allen Crabbe's free throw tied the game again for Cal, but Flowers backed Gutierrez into the paint, then turned and banked a short shot off the backboard for the game-winner.

"I had a trick play and we got in the huddle and he basically said, 'Get me the ball and I'll win the game,'" Eustachy said. "We got him the ball and he won the game. I think it's going to be a big win for us down the road because I think Cal is going to get really, really good before it's over."

That sent the Eagles, whose only loss came against Ole Miss on Dec. 4, into a 10-day break riding high.

The Bears were on the verge of turning the game into a blowout before Flowers' heroics.

"Tonight is discouraging, especially considering the last few possessions of the game and knowing that we probably should have come out of there with a win," Kamp said. "All it came down to was those last few possessions."

Kamp scored 12 straight points coming out of halftime and Carter made a pair of 3-pointers to spark a 12-2 run that gave Cal a 68-61 lead with 6 1/2 minutes left.

But the Bears went cold after Markhuri Sanders-Frison's short jumper. Cal made only one basket in the final 5 minutes _ a Carter 3-pointer that gave the Bears a 76-70 lead.

"It was difficult and I thought we were a little bit tentative defensively because of foul trouble late," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "We needed to be more aggressive. We should have been able to take more charges when they drove."

Carter finished with a career-high 16 points for the Bears while Gutierrez had 10 points and matched his career high of eight assists. Cal, which lost to No. 14 San Diego State 77-57 on Wednesday, has dropped four of its last six overall, leaving Montgomery two wins short of 600 for his career. Southern Miss shot just 32.4 percent in the first half, yet led 41-40 at the break following Page's 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left. Page's basket capped a 10-4 run for the Eagles, who held the Bears to just three baskets over the final 10 minutes of the half.

The two teams combined for 30 fouls in the opening 20 minutes, with Cal attempting as many free throws (21) as it did shots from the floor. Southern Miss, which took 37 shots from the floor and 17 from the line, also held the Bears without an offensive rebound in the first half.

Cal won the only previous meeting between the schools, beating the Golden Eagles 67-59 in 2007.