Bears make history in Los Angeles

Cal pulls away early in the second half, delivers late to hold off UCLA rally in 73-63 victory.

LOS ANGELES – "Two steps forward, one step back" had been California's unofficial motto on the road in Pac-12 play this season. For every impressive win – at Oregon and Washington – there was an equally disappointing setback to keep the Golden Bears from running away with the conference lead.

Cal finally remedied that dichotomy Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Sports Arena with a 73-63 win over UCLA, accomplishing several historic feats along the way.

Along with its first road sweep of the season, it gave Cal (20-6, 10-3 Pac-12) its first regular season sweep of the Bruins since 1993-94 and sweep of the Los Angeles schools since 1958-59.

"If I was a smart aleck, which I am absolutely not, I would have said what the hell has been going on since 1958," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery joked.

Guard Justin Cobbs led the way with 18 points, his best scoring output in a conference game this season.

The redshirt sophomore from Bishop Montgomery High in nearby Torrance engineered a second-half 17-5 run that gave its biggest lead, taking advantage of changes in the UCLA defense from the first meeting last Dec.

Unable to rely on its normal offensive plays, Cal instead used more pick-and-roll looks, giving Cobbs opportunities to take advantage of the switch by either knocking down jumpers or finding teammates for shots.

"It gave us an extra dimension," Montgomery said. "We were having a hard time running our set offense, so we tried to set a lot more ball screens and Justin did a really nice job."

Cal was also much better on the defensive end in the second half, especially against the front line trio of Joshua Smith and David and Travis Wear.

The mammoth Smith, officially listed at 305 pounds but looking even bigger, bowled over starting forwards Harper Kamp and David Kravish with the first five points of the game for UCLA (14-11, 7-6).

"In their offense, they really try to create angles for Josh because of how big of a body he is," forward Robert Thurman said. "He can move pretty much anyone in the country around."

Kravish picked up two fouls in the opening 2:30 and went right to the bench, while Kamp managed to play 12 minutes before joining him in foul trouble.

"It wasn't our design," Montgomery said. "It was to get Smith in foul trouble, not us. It kind of worked in reverse."

Thurman and Bak Bak were able to buy some time, limiting Smith and the Wears to four points the rest of the way, and Cal was took a 32-26 lead into the locker room, buoyed by 10 points from guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Quicker rotation on double-teams ultimately limited Smith to 10 points, reflective of an effort that held the Bruins to seven assists against 11 turnovers while allowing just 12 points off 14 Cal turnovers.

However, UCLA was able to make a late run, pulling within seven in the final 3:15 before Cobbs found a wide-open Allen Crabbe for a three-pointer that provided some breathing room.

"I knew they were making a little run toward the end of the game and I knew I needed a basket, but I was just telling myself to stay calm," said Crabbe, who finished with 14 points.

Kamp had 10 points and seven rebounds, becoming the 18th Cal player with 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. He became the 41st player in school history with 1,000 points on his jump shot 2:09 into the game.


BearTerritory.net Top Stories