California wins third straight, beats Oregon
BERKELEY – California finished the first half of Pac-10 play in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season with a winning record.
Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Allen Crabbe scored 18 points apiece to help California win its third straight conference game and deny Oregon a rare Bay Area sweep with an 85-77 victory on Saturday.
“We’re just building up confidence,” Crabbe said. “We know we’re a young team. But we know we can compete with anybody in the Pac-10. This was a great week for us.”
Jorge Gutierrez added 17 points despite a 2-for-11 shooting performance, and Harper Kamp scored 13 for the Golden Bears (12-9, 5-4), who are on their longest winning streak since starting the season 3-0.
After losing Pac-10 Player of the Year Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin from the team that won the regular season conference title a year ago, coach Mike Montgomery’s squad lost four of six to open the conference season before finding its way the past eight days.
The Bears will look to extend their winning streak with another set of home games next weekend against Arizona State and Arizona.
“It shows that we have matured a lot,” Sanders-Frison said. “We’ve played 21 games and come a long way. I give a lot of props to our young players and coaching staff for helping us out. We’re a very young team. It shows that we have matured as a team.”
The Ducks (10-11, 3-6), fresh off their first win at Stanford in 25 years, were looking to pull off their first sweep in the Bay Area since February 1976.
They got 22 points from Joevan Catron, 16 from Malcolm Armstead and 14 from Tyrone Nared, but were unable to pull off the trick. They fell behind by 18 points in the first half and lost for the 10th time in their last 11 trips to Haas Pavilion.
“We didn’t have them ready to play and they shot the heck out of it, but I just thought our energy level was really bad,” coach Dana Altman said. “I don’t know if we were still patting ourselves on the back for the other night or what, but we really weren’t sharp at the start of the game. I told the guys the game started at 3 and we showed up at 3:30.”
Neither team was able to get into any sort of flow in the second half with the officials calling 17 fouls in the first 8:01 – a staggering rate of more than two per minute. Cal’s leading scorer, Kamp, went to the bench with his fourth foul with 14:05 to go, while Jeremy Jacob and Armstead also got their fourth for Oregon early in the half.
The Ducks had whittled an 18-point first-half deficit down to four early in the second half, but Crabbe went in for a dunk after a turnover by E.J. Singler to give the Bears a 61-52 lead near the midpoint of the second half.
Cal was unable to put the Ducks away and Oregon used a 9-1 run to cut it to 64-63 with about 7 minutes left. But the Ducks were unable to get over the hump as the Bears led for the final 38:32 of the game.
Jay-R Strowbridge missed a potential tying 3-pointer with about 3 minutes left, then Nared was called for an illegal screen after the Ducks got the rebound. Sanders-Frison scored on a putback at the other end, and Cal hung on at the foul line for its sixth straight victory over Oregon.
“Our guys fought hard to get back in it, but we just didn’t have enough to get it done,” Altman said.
Cal, behind strong inside play from Sanders-Frison, took control early with a 16-2 run that gave the Bears a 12-point lead as Oregon went 5:40 without a basket. Little-used freshman Jeff Powers, who had made only one basket all season, made a 3-pointer midway through the half to give Cal a 29-11 lead.
Oregon used its full-court press to force some turnovers and worked the deficit down to seven points. But a late 3-pointer helped Cal take a 47-35 lead at the break.
“We really sliced and diced early and made plays,” Montgomery said. “Then we got a little bit tentative. I thought we got tired. Either we lost our concentration or got a little bit fatigued.”