March 10, 1999
OAKLAND, Calif. - Sophomore forward Sean Lampley scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead California to a come-from-behind 79-71 victory over Fresno State in the first round of the NIT Wednesday at the Oakland Arena.
Cal (18-11) now advances to play at DePaul, a 69-64 winner over Northwestern, Tuesday, March 16, in a second round match-up. The game will start at 8:30 p.m. CT (6:30 p.m. PT) and be televised nationally on ESPN from the Rosemont Horizon.
Fresno State (21-12) led for the entire first half, and the Bulldogs were ahead, 39-32, at the break. Lampley was the one Cal player who was able to find his shot early as he had 15 points before intermission.
In the second half, FSU quickly made it a 12-point game with a 49-37 lead at the 15:31 mark on a Courtney Alexander jumper. That's went Cal decided to make its run. The Bears outscored the Bulldogs 16-1 over the next five-and-a-half minutes to take a 53-50 lead with 9:23 left. Lampley and Geno Carlisle each had five points during the stretch.
After Fresno tied the game at 53-all, Cal took the lead for good on a Carl Boyd jumper. Boyd scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half to help the Bears move in front.
After Cal went ahead, 72-65, with 4:26 remaining, Fresno scored six straight points to get within one. However, Lampley made three free throws to extend the Bears advantage and Cal walked away with the win.
The game marked the fifth time this season the Bears came back from at least a 10-point deficit to win. Cal, which entered the game being outrebounded by more than three per game, controlled the boards by a 47-30 margin.
Postgame coaches' quotes:
California Head Coach Ben Braun:
"We just didn't have a lot of answers for Fresno State in the first half. They were playing some tremendous defenses like Tarkanian's teams always do."
"The really key statistic for me was out-rebounding Fresno State in the second half. That was like a championship fight out there. I had to call some timeouts just for rest."
"Lampley really climbed the boards for us and Carl Boyd helped us mount the comeback. Carl made every tough basket for us and really allowed our team to climb back into the game. He wasn't going to be denied. He was tough minded tonight."
"The one thing our team has never done is to not bounce back. We've been down at home before and bounced back. Fresno State is a very athletic and tough team and you saw that in the second half. Our game plan was to go inside right away, but it's hard when your inside guys are on the bench early in foul trouble."
"Down the stretch, I thought our team played very well, right through those final minutes. It's a hard fought win. Home or away, you are going to have to come to play."
"I hope, whatever it takes, that we get this home game. We need this for our fans. That crowd tonight made a big difference down the stretch. We couldn't have done it without them."
Fresno State Head Coach Jerry Tarkanian:
"I thought our guys played hard. I thought we played very well until right at the end. We are not a big team, and we are not a physical team, and it catches up to us. Rebounding just killed us all year long."
"What bothered me most is that this was a two-point game, maybe even a one-point game. At the end when we get behind, we just let it go."
"I thought (Sean) Lampley was sensational today. I didn't realize he was that good of a player."
"I like this Cal team. I think they have a chance of winning the NIT. I said that going in. I thought that they were a tournament team - an NCAA team. I think they have as good a chance as anybody of winning the NIT. I wish them the best of luck."