Joe Burton and Oregon St. had Richard Thurman and California down most of the night, but Thurman and the Bears got off the deck to pull out the win over the Beavers at the end. - (Photo by Kelley Cox, USA Today Sports)
California came from behind and controlled the end of the game, pulling out a 3 point win that was coach Mike Montgomery 100th with the Bears. Oregon St. played one of their best games of the season offensively most of the night, but their offense eluded them at the end.
The Beavers took leads as large as 12 points in both halves, including a 52-40 advantage on Roberto Nelson's 2 + 1 just over 4 minutes into the second half, as Oregon St. even overcame a recent tendency to struggle right before and after halftime. But Justin Cobbs, who had been quiet most of the game, got the Golden Bears back in front with 6 1/2 minutes left, capping a 20-7 run that made it 60-59 California.
The game was tight after that, but Cobbs pushed Cal ahead for good with 2:48 left, with a 3 pointer that made it 67-66 Bears. Allen Crabbe added a runner for his 15th point, and a 3 point lead, only to have Ahmad Starks answer, sending the game into the final minute a 1 point game.
Cobbs missed a 3 pointer, but Crabbe corralled the long rebound, giving him a team high 9 for the night, and that allowed California to run the game clock down until there were only 18 seconds left when Richard Soloman's dunk made it 71-68.
Oregon St. only committed 7 fouls all night, and just 3 in the second half, including none until the 7:32 mark, but that hurt them, as fouling to extend the game wasn't an option down the stretch, as they would have had to commit 4 to force a free throw.
The Beavers first tried to get the 3 points the 2 + 1 way, but Robert Thurman blocked Devon Collier's shot. Oregon St. still had 7 seconds left, though, but never got up another shot attempt. The ball found its way to Joe Burton, but Burton wasn't comfortable as a 3 point artist, but his pass to Starks wasn't precise, and time ran out before Starks recovered the ball.
"I take the blame for that right at the end there," coach Craig Robinson said. "We had 2 plays set up, but I think I should have taken a timeout to get a shot off."
(Oregon St. left 3 unused timeouts on the board.)
Burton had had a spectacular night, with 14 points, on 7 of 15 shooting, and flirting with a triple double, with 8 rebounds and 8 assists, as well as 2 steals, but couldn't execute the pass to Starks, adding yet another episode to a very long list of instances where Oregon St. has messed up an end of game situation.
"We have to execute better down the stretch," Robinson said. "I have to get these guys to be not afraid to make a mistake. We had a great opportunity to win this game, but we didn't get it done."
Nelson finished with a game high 25 points, and Starks added 12, but the Beavers' offense trailed off from the 60% they shot in the first half, including 60% on 3 pointers, winding up at 47% for the game, though they finished at 57% on 3s.
Collier was also in double digits, with 10 points, but 8 came in the first half. Eric Moreland managed just 4 points, but had 9 rebounds to lead the Beavers.
Crabbe kept California in the contest early, with 11 of his team high 15 points in the first half, despite his making only 3 of 11 3 point attempts.
Cobbs only had 3 points in the first half, but finished strong, with 14 total, while Soloman and David Kravish both added 12 points for California.
Oregon St. fell to 11-10, and 1-7 in the Pac-12, tied with Utah for last place, having lost 8 of their last 10 games, and will head across the bay to play Stanford Sunday at noon.
California climbed back to 12-8, after having lost 5 of their last 8, and 4-4 in the conference, and into a 4 way tie for 5th.
In other Oregon St. related Pac-12 news, it was announced today that Charlie Sitton will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor during the Conference tournament in Las Vegas at the end of the season.