Only about a minute had gone by since Cal forward Robert
Thurman lost the ball after putting the ball on the floor following an
Faced with the same situation again, Thurman made the play
that led to a Cal victory.
Thurman's assist on Justin Cobbs' 3-pointer with 2:51
remaining gave the Bears the lead for good, and a suffocating final defensive
sequence helped Cal slip past Oregon State on Thursday night, 71-68 in front of
8,261 at Haas Pavilion.
"I got the offensive rebound before and it got stripped,"
Thurman said. "Justin was wide open. It seemed to be the best play at the moment."
Thurman's assist was one of a handful of key plays he made
down the stretch, helping the Bears erase a 52-40 deficit early in the second
Thurman finished with eight points, six rebounds and three
assists in 20 minutes. On the possession immediately following his turnover,
Thurman slammed home a miss by Allen Crabbe to tie the game at 64-64. He then
blocked a shot by Oregon State's Devon Collier with seven seconds left that
helped preserve the victory.
"I just had my legs," Thurman said. "I'm 275 pounds. Some
games I can't move as well; others, I can jump and move. I'm a better rebounder
and can play longer."
Crabbe had 15 points and seven rebounds while Cobbs finished
with 14 points and tied a season-high with seven assists. As a team, the Bears
had a season-high 25 assists on 30 made baskets.
Richard Solomon had 12 points and seven rebounds. David
Kravish had 12 points and five rebounds.
The Bears (12-8, 4-4 Pac-12) allowed the Beavers (11-9, 1-7)
to shoot 60 percent from the field in the first half, and Oregon State led
51-40 with 15:49 remaining. During the ensuing media timeout, Cal coach Mike
Montgomery challenged his team to play with more passion and effort.
"We were just getting our butts kicked," Montgomery said. "I
explained in no uncertain terms that there is no excuse for sitting back. We
had to be the aggressor. I don't think anybody disagreed with my analysis of
the situation to that point."
The Bears apparently were listening. After the Beavers'
Roberto Nelson made a free throw to make it 52-40, Cal scored seven straight
points, getting a 3-pointer from Brandon Smith and buckets inside by Kravish
and Solomon. It stayed close for several minutes before the Bears made another
push, putting together another 7-0 run to turn a 59-53 deficit into a 60-59
lead with 6:31 left.
"(Montgomery) really just let us have it," Thurman said. "I
think we really needed it. We really picked it up. We really played much better
defense. When we play good defense, the offense usually comes with it."
The Bears polished off the game with a terrific defensive
sequence. The Beavers got the ball trailing by three and 17 seconds left. After
Thurman blocked Collier's shot with seven seconds remaining, Oregon State
couldn't even get another shot off before time expired.
"The way wins are coming, any win is big at this point,"
Thurman said. "It was a huge win because it showed we can come back. Just because
we're down, it doesn't mean we are out."
The Bears erased a 52-40 deficit with 15:49 remaining to come back and beat the Beavers, 71-68. Cal had four players score in double figures, but the key player of the game arguably was forward Robert Thurman, who made a handful of big plays down the stretch. The biggest came with 2:51 left when he corralled an offensive rebound and threw it back out for Justin Cobbs, who drained a 3-pointer to give Cal a 67-66 lead. It had been back and forth before that for a short while, but that gave the Bears the lead for good.
Moments earlier, Thurman had a putback dunk off an Allen Crabbe miss to tie it back up at 64-64.
Crabbe finished with 15 points and eight rebounds; Cobbs had 14 points and tied a season-high with seven assists. Richard Solomon added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Cal had a season-high 25 assists on 30 baskets. The Bears also made a season-high nine 3-pointers.
Cal improves to 12-8, 4-4 in the Pac-12. The Bears host No. 10 Oregon on Saturday afternoon.
The Beavers led by double-digits for much of the first half but a late run by the Bears cut the deficit back down to single-digits. Cal had it down to six after a 3-pointer by Brandon Smith and a layup by Bak Bak, but Oregon State's Ahmad Starks scored with one second left to give the Beavers the eight-point bulge at the intermission.
Both teams came out sizzling, with Cal shooting 58 percent and Oregon St. shooting 67 percent at the first media timeout of the first half. But while the Bears ultimately cooled off, the Beavers continued to shoot at a high efficiency throughout the half. OSU is shooting 60 percent at halftime, while Cal has dropped to 36 percent.
We're just under a half-hour away from tipoff here at Haas Pavilion for
tonight's men's basketball game between the Bears and Oregon State. Big
night for the Bears, who are playing their first home game in 19 days.
Cal enters 11-8, 3-4 in the Pac-12. Oregon St. is 11-9, 1-6 in
conference play. Stay tuned here and on Twitter (@CalBearBlog)
throughout the evening for updates.
Cal guard Brittany Boyd was 100 feet away from the basket
and she knew she was going to score on the other end.
With just over two minutes left and the seventh-ranked Bears
holding on to a two-point lead over No. 20 Colorado on Friday night at Haas
Pavilion, Boyd went soaring past the end line to save a ball that was heading
out of bounds. The ball wound up in the hands of teammate Gennifer Brandon, who
gave it to guard Layshia Clarendon.
As Clarendon headed down the court, Boyd came streaking past
her up the sideline yelling for the ball. Clarendon found her, and Boyd didn't
stop running until she converted a layup on the other end to put Cal in front
58-54 with 2:11 remaining.
The Buffaloes would get no closer, and Cal held on for a
There were a lot of storylines to Friday's win. Cal erased a
32-16 halftime deficit. The Bears overcame a 13-28 performance from the free
throw line. Eliza Pierre provided a spark off the bench.
But Boyd's end-to-end heroics as the game wound down was the
signature sequence of the evening.
"I actually didn't expect the ball back," Boyd said. "But I
was wide open and Layshia saw me. Nobody was guarding me so I just attacked the
Boyd may have not expected the ball back, but she certainly
wanted it. And there was no doubt in Clarendon's mind she was going to return
the ball to her teammate.
"When someone steps up and makes a play, I'm going to give
the ball right back to them," Clarendon said. "I knew she wanted it. That's one
of my favorite things about this team. We're all so capable of making plays
that get us going."
With the score tied 54-54 and 3:45 left, Boyd made the Bears'
final two field goals. Clarendon made one of two free throws with 15 seconds
remaining, and Colorado missed two 3-point attempts before time expired.
Boyd's endgame contributions erased a sluggish start for the
sophomore. She had three early turnovers and sat out a chunk of the second half
with foul trouble. She finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
"I just had to have a short memory," Boyd said. "There was a
whole second half left of basketball. I had to figure out what to do better. It
didn't really bother me."
Cold shooting by the Bears and hot shooting by the Buffs
allowed Colorado to establish a 32-16 lead with 4:08 left in the first half.
But Cal closed the half with an 8-0 run, including Pierre's 3-pointer with 7.5
seconds remaining to make it 32-24.
The game was suddenly manageable, and the Bears put the heat
on Colorado with trapping pressure defense in the second half that forced turnovers
and allowed Cal to do what it does best - run.
The Bears forced 19 turnovers that led to 20 points. Cal
scored 12 points in transition.
"We changed it to our style," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb
said. "We started to press and that changed the energy. I had a feeling we
would fight through it."
Gottlieb acknowledged it wasn't the Bears best performance
of the season. But considering they still came back to grind out a win against
a nationally ranked team, it was one of the team's most satisfying.
"It certainly wasn't one of our prettiest wins, but it was
one of the wins I will be most proud of for a long time," Gottlieb said. "Colorado
is really good. This really speaks to our resolve and believing we can win any
which way. In conference play when you play unbelievable teams like Colorado,
to not have a loss on one of your imperfect nights says a lot about the young
woman I am fortunate enough to coach."
The win kept the Bears tied with Stanford atop the Pac-12
standings at 6-1 (16-2 overall). Cal will next host Utah on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Bears outscored the Buffaloes 43-24 in the final 24 minutes of the game to pull out a 59-56 win. Gennifer Brandon had another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Layshia Clarendon had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Bears ended the first half on an 8-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Eliza Pierre with 7.5 seconds left, to trail 32-24 at the half. Poor floor shooting and hot shooting by the Buffaloes allowed Colorado to lead comfortably for most of the half. But the Bears clamped down on defense and slowly whittled into the deficit during the latter stages of the half.
Cal is shooting just 23 percent from the field (8-35) while Colorado is connecting on 50 percent of its shots (12-24). But the Buffs were over 60 percent for much of the first half before it came down.
Colorado has connected on 5 of 11 3-point attempts while the Bears are just 6-14 from the free throw line. Cal has forced the Buffaloes into 10 turnovers, six of those coming on steals. Pierre, who has hit the only two 3-pointers for the Bears, leads Cal with six points.
Big Night tonight at Haas Pavilion (the women's team seems to be having a lot of those lately). The No. 7 Bears host No. 20 Colorado in another pivotal Pac-12 showdown. Cal (15-2, 5-1) is tied with No. 6 Stanford atop the conference standings and needs a win over the Buffaloes to keep pace. Colorado is also 15-2 with its only two losses coming to Cal and Stanford. Just under three weeks ago in Boulder, the Bears squeaked out a 53-49 victory over the Buffs.
Tonight marks the sixth time in the past seven games the Bears have faced a ranked opponent, and their only loss during that time came against Stanford. Cal turned around and then beat Stanford in its next game.
Stay tuned all night here and on Twitter (@CalBearBlog) for updates throughout the night.
It's a good thing Michelle Chevalier isn't still issuing
Skittles to Cal forward Gennifer Brandon. She'd be forced to make frequent runs
to Target or Costco to maintain her supply.
Chevalier, Brandon's adopted mother, used to give the small
candies to Brandon based on how many rebounds she would pull down in a club or
high school game. Considering she set Cal's single-season rebounding record
with 346 last year, Brandon would probably be brushing her teeth a few extra
times at night if Chevalier's reward system were still in place.
Brandon's dominance of the boards has continued into this
season. She leads No. 7 Cal into Friday night's game against No. 20 Colorado at
Haas Pavilion ranked ninth in the country with an average of 11.4 rebounds per
game. And she tied a Cal record by hauling in a staggering 26 rebounds during
an overtime win over USC last week.
"All my coaches have always said to box out," said Brandon,
a junior. "I'm just like, 'Get the ball. Get the ball.'"
She's been getting the ball a lot lately. A quick and
explosive jumper with a nose for rebounding, it's hard for anyone else on the
floor to grab a board when Brandon is in the paint.
"She was putting up Dwight Howard numbers," USC coach
Michael Cooper said after his team's loss to the Bears.
Brandon said she's always had a rebounding mentality, from
the moment she started playing basketball at age 12. She started by playing
one-on-one at the park with her older sister, Kimberly.
"She would always win," Brandon said. "We didn't like
playing against each other. She would always complain to my mom when I backed
her down that I would double-dribble every time."
One of Kimberly's friends invited both Brandons to try out
for her club team in Southern California, BBG (Blessed By God). Basketball then
became a serious thing. Kimberly went on to play at Arizona State and Gennifer
earned her scholarship to Cal.
Chevalier and her husband, Andre, were the club coaches.
After a couple of years, the sisters grew close to the coaches. The Chevaliers
ended up offering to adopt the Brandon girls, partly to alleviate the hardships
experienced by their biological mother, Valencia Brandon. Valencia was
struggling to raise five children on her own after her husband and the kids'
father, Gregory, died in 1997.
Gennifer and Kimberly moved in with the Chevaliers. That's
when "everything blew up" with basketball, according to Gennifer.
"My mom was struggling," Gennifer said. "We didn't have a
home. We were living out of motels and stuff like that. They saw the potential
that my sister and I had, so they thought it was best since they were coaches."
Gennifer may have gotten much of her leaping ability and
basketball acumen from her father, who played at Creighton and was drafted by
the Seattle SuperSonics. She wears No. 25 to honor her father, who wore the
same number in college.
Brandon is still close to Valencia, talking often with her as
well as her adopted parents. She talked to all of them after her record-setting
performance against USC.
Brandon had 11 rebounds at halftime against the Trojans, but
was disappointed with her play. She said she sometimes "gets into her own head,"
wondering why she isn't playing better and if she is helping the team enough.
When that happens, she's charged teammate Mikayla Lyles to snap her out of it.
"I asked Mikayla to remind me when she sees that I'm not
myself," Brandon said. "You can tell from people's expressions or body
language. I told her to please remind me to get out of my head. I'm just thinking
too much about what I'm doing wrong. How can I help the team more? Am I
bringing enough energy? I get so caught up in my own thoughts that I don't feel
like I'm in reality. I'm focused on what had happened, rather than what I
should be doing to help make it better."
Lyles spoke to Brandon before the start of the second half
against USC, and Gennifer dominated the floor. Along with her 26 rebounds, she
finished with 23 points, 17 in the second half and overtime.
Brandon shows no ill-effects of the stress fracture in her
shin that forced her to sit out the 2010-11 season. Like many athletes, Brandon
said watching from the sideline improved her game once she returned to the
"I tried to look at it from a different perspective,"
Brandon said. "What can I get out of it? Everything happens for a reason. I
feel more educated about the game, seeing it from a different perspective -
just watching rather than being a part of it. I've been a lot more focused in
trying to grasp what the coaches are saying."
Gennifer Brandon knew this was the time. This was the time
Cal's women's basketball team could either undo the benchmark win it registered
over Stanford last weekend, or prove the Bears should continue to belong among
the nation's elite.
Trailing 62-56 with 1:42 left in regulation, Brandon's
mindset changed. And because of that, so did the game.
Brandon had eight points, seven rebounds and added a steal
and a block down the stretch, and the No. 7 Bears came back to notch a 71-63
victory over USC in overtime on Thursday night.
"I was basically in a daze," said Brandon, who tied Colleen
Galloway's school record with 26 rebounds and scored 23 points. "One of our
sayings when someone tries to come in to our house is 'Not today.' I just kept
saying, 'not today'."
With the Bears (13-2, 4-1 Pac-12) struggling to find a rhythm
in the first half, Brandon gave Cal a jolt of energy just before halftime. She
stole a ball right out of a USC player's hands, hauled in an offensive rebound
then stepped back for a jumper, and forced a jump ball on defense. That helped
the Bears establish a 36-31 halftime lead.
But the Trojans, who entered the game atop the Pac-12
standings at 4-0, held their own in the second half. And when Ariya Crook
drained a fallaway 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, it gave USC a 58-53
advantage with 2:44 remaining.
It was the last field goal USC would score on the night.
Four free throws helped the Trojans take the 62-56 lead, but
that's when Brandon exerted her will. She made two free throws. She came up
with a steal, was fouled, and made two more free throws. And when Layshia
Clarendon missed a jumper on Cal's final possession of regulation, there was
Brandon to put back the miss and tie the game at 62-62 with 14.7 seconds left.
Neither team scored in the overtime period until Brandon
grabbed a rebound and fed Brittany Boyd for a coast-to-coast layup. Brandon
then registered another offensive rebound and stuck a jumper to give the Bears
a 68-63 lead with 40 seconds left in the extra session.
The Trojans scored just a single point in overtime and Cal
wrapped up the win.
"We all know Gen has some unfathomable leaping and
rebounding talents," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "But there are times when
she is in a zone. This is one of them where you feel like if the ball is
anywhere in the vicinity, she is going to get it and she's going to finish."
Gottlieb believes her team is built in such a way it can win
in a variety of ways. Thursday, the Bears were forced to do so with defense.
Cal held USC to 34 percent shooting, and was essentially a wall down the
"I thought feel of the game started to shift midway through
the second half," Gottlieb said. "We couldn't quickly take the lead. We had to
chip away. They're good. But our defensive intensity never wanted. We want to
make more shots. We have to be better with that. We have to figure out what we
need to do. But there's no question our defensive intensity and speed and
rebounding is pretty unreal if we play at that level."
Cal's No. 7 women's basketball team beat No. 5 Stanford 67-55 this afternoon at Maples Pavilion, ending the Cardinal's 81- game conference winning streak. Here are the highlights courtesy of pac.12.com:
David Kravish and Allen Crabbe appeared in the interview room following tonight's game, and both lamented the lopsided nature of the loss to Washington. Both acknowledged the team has to play with more energy.
The good news, Kravish said, is it's still early in the conference season.
"Losing is never fun," Kravish said. "We have another game in a couple days so it's another chance to turn it around. Right now we're 1-2 in conference. There is still plenty of time to turn this around. It's about finding passion and that drive as a team, as a group, always out there playing hard for each other. We still have time. We just have to turn it around."
Cal scored just two points during the final 7:18 of the first half and trails 34-20 at halftime. The score was tied 18-18 before the Huskies went on a 16-0 run to take command. A layup by Bak Bak with 2:44 left finally broke Washington's run.
Both teams are shooting under 40 percent from the floor but unfortunately for the Bears most of the other stats heavily favor Washington. The Huskies are dominating the glass, outrebounding Cal 30-13. That includes 15 offensive rebounds for Washington, which have led to 11 second-chance points. Cal also is just 3-for-10 from the free throw line.
Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer at 21.4 points per game, has just five at the half.
We're just over a half-hour away from tipoff here at Haas Pavilion for the men's basketball team's conference home opener against Washington. Big week for the Bears with home games against the Washington schools. Legitimate chance to be 3-1 in Pac-12 play. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Both of these games will present stiff challenges.
Stay tuned here and on Twitter (@CalBearBlog) throughout the game for updates.
Jeff Powers once scored a school-record 14 points in a
quarter for De La Salle High School in Concord. Other than that, Power says "I
wasn't a volume scorer in high school."
Turns out Cal doesn't need him to be one in college, either.
The walk-on junior guard figures to get more playing time because
of injuries to Brandon Smith and Ricky Kreklow, and even though he nailed both
of his 3-point shots during Saturday's win over USC, what coach Mike Montgomery
wants most out of Powers is for him to use his smarts to help the team any
which way he can.
"Jeff is just going to be given more opportunities and
hopefully he can capitalize on them," Montgomery said in advance of Wednesday's
Pac-12 showdown against Washington at Haas Pavilion. "He's a smart player. He
understands he's not going to just blow by people and throw down dunks and that
kind of stuff. He's trying to contribute to others in terms of a passer, know
what he's doing and be in the right spot."
Powers is playing more than he anticipated because of the
Bears' injury woes. He's averaged 12 minutes during the past four games.
"With Ricky and Brandon out, we need some help off the
bench," Powers said. "I think against USC I did prove that I could come in and
play and give some valuable minutes to the team. It definitely helped my
confidence a lot."
At 6-7, Powers is versatile enough to play both wing spots
for the Bears. And although his reputation is as a sharpshooter, the Bears need
him to simply play a solid all-around game to give Cal some stability off the
"If I didn't hit those two (3-pointers) and we won and I got
to play and got some rebounds and loose balls, I would have been completely
happy with that," Powers said. "Not playing a huge amount of minutes so far
this season, I was a little nervous. I think I came in and proved I can play. I
think I definitely helped the team, and I helped us get the win. We definitely
needed that win."
It's hard to determine what is going to be tougher for the
Cal women's basketball team - its initial portion of the Pac-12 schedule or its
eventual NCAA Tournament draw.
The seventh-ranked Bears (10-1) begin conference play Friday
night at Utah, the first of a grueling eight-game stretch to kick off the
Pac-12 season. Seven of Cal's first eight conference opponents have a combined
record of 39-5. Five of those games will come against teams ranked in this week's
Associated Press top 20.
"We start out with the toughest schedule of anyone," Cal
head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "If you look at the conference right now, we're
playing eight of the toughest ten games right off the bat. We need to be ready
when it's conference play. We've had a really good week of practice. I think
the players are in a really good mindset, knowing how hard this opening stretch
After playing the 9-2 Utes, the Bears must play Sunday at No.
20 Colorado, which enters Pac-12 play at 11-0. Then it's back home to play No.
4 Stanford on Tuesday at Haas Pavilion, followed by a rematch with the Cardinal
in Palo Alto the following Sunday.
After a home game against USC, the Bears host No. 16 UCLA
and then welcome Colorado and Utah to Haas Pavilion.
"It's as much about hating to lose and wanting to win as it
is about tactics," Gottlieb said. "One thing this team does really well is stay
in the moment. I've never had a hard time motivating them for a nonconference
game as they may be look ahead to a bigger school. It's no different in
conference. They totally realize that a win on the road at the beginning of
conference is as big as a Stanford game or a UCLA game in three weeks."
The Bears have proven they are ready for this tough stretch
to commence. Their only blemish is a loss at No. 4 Duke, and they have quality wins
over Georgetown and Kansas. It's the best start in program history.
But winning the Pac-12 is the ultimate benchmark for a
program now among the nation's elite. And that quest starts this weekend in challenging
"I think it was appropriate to take time to tell them that
they earned the best start in program history," Gottlieb said. "That's a great
achievement, but none of them are satisfied with that. Now, it's the second
season. They know this is a whole different animal now that we're in the Pac-12.
There's no question that we've re-focused on that and put the first part of the
season behind us."
The Men's Basketball Team begins Pac-12 Conference play Thursday night against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. Coach Mike Montgomery talks about his team heading into the conference slate and previews the Pac-12 race, courtesy of Pac-12.com.