December 29, 1998
OAKLAND - Geno Carlisle lit up the Arena in Oakland with 29 points and Thomas Kilgore came off the bench to add 21 as California overcame a 10-point second half deficit to defeat No. 9 North Carolina, 78-71, in front of 19,657 fans in the opening game of the Pete Newell Challenge Tuesday night.
Cal, which has now won seven straight, improved to 9-1 on the season and is off to its best start since the 1980-81 Bears under Dick Kuchen also started 9-1. For North Carolina, the loss was the second consecutive for the Tar Heels, who fell to 12-3.
After trailing 41-39 at the break, the Bears watched North Carolina open the second half with a 13-5 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 55-46 with just under 15 minutes to play. But Cal, which shot just 35 percent (14-for-40) in the first half, turned up the defensive pressure, and used it to key an 18-2 run that gave the Bears their first lead of the game - 67-64 - since the first minute of the game.
"Things didn't fall for us in the first half," said Cal head coach Ben Braun. "We missed a lot of easy shots. In the second half, we really stepped it up on the defensive end and ended up winning the game with our defense. We never backed down today. We were frustrated a few times, but we just kept hammering away."
Which may have been the most impressive part of the victory for Cal. The Bears forced UNC into 24 turnovers for the game, the most by any Tar Heel team in 71 contests. By comparison, Cal posted a season-low seven miscues.
"I think they (Cal) caused us to do a lot of things that we didn't want to do," said North Carolina head coach Bill Guthridge. "I didn't think we handled the situation at the end of the game. They are very sound defensively and I thought they did a very good job with that."
The only other Bear in double figures for the game was sophomore forward Sean Lampely, who scored 14 points and added a team-high nine boards. UNC's high scorer was Brendan Haywood, who gave the Bears fits in the paint with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Cal returns to the hardwood Saturday, Jan. 2, when the Bears open Pacific-10 Conference play by hosting the Oregon Ducks at 1 p.m.