California was dragging, drowning and dumbfounded coming out against Oregon State on Saturday. Senior guard Justin Cobbs was held scoreless in the first half, as he and freshman Jordan Mathews -- coming off a 32-point performance against Oregon – went a combined 1-for-10 from the field before the break.
The Beavers hit seven of their first 10 shots, and went 17-for-27 in the first half, en route to building a 45-35 lead at the break. Oregon State – which came in shooting 39.3% from long distance this season --went 7-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc in the first stanza, led by a 3-for-4 performance by senior guard Roberto Nelson. The Beavers led the Bears by as many as 14 points.
Then, Cal – led by Cobbs and senior sniper Jeff Powers -- woke up.
The Bears allowed just two three-point field goals in the second half (including a last-second undefended trey from Nelson), held Oregon State scoreless for more than five minutes, went on a 16-5 second-half run and finished off a huge 88-83 comeback win to move to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2009, and 3-0 in their first three road games for the first time in more than 57 years.
Cobbs scored all of his team-high 20 points after halftime, as Powers went 3-for-5 from three-point land en route to a 4-for-6, 14-point night, and Cal needed every single one of those points.
After depending largely on the hot shooting of Mathews two days prior, Cal saw Mathews held scoreless until he dropped in a coast-to-coast lay-up with 2:47 left in the first half.
The Beavers, on the other hand, could not miss, particularly with the ball in Nelson's hands.
Nelson – who finished 7-for-17 with a game-high 26 points – was one of five different Oregon State players to hit a three-pointer in the first half, many of which were lightly or not contested at all by a sluggish Cal squad, which kept up the pace two nights earlier against up-tempo Oregon.
After a baby hook make by David Kravish with 37 seconds left in the first half, Cobbs came up with a steal on Cheikh N'Diaye and pushed the ball up the court, finishing with a lob to Richard Solomon for a dunk. Seconds later, Cobbs caught the ball off the in-bound, cut through three defenders and fed Solomon for a big frustration slam to bring the Bears within 10 headed into the locker room.
Cobbs was far from done. After not finding his mid-range shot early on, Cobbs found his comfort zone down low, driving the lane, drawing fouls and hitting lay-ups. Cobbs went 0-for-4 in the first half and went to the line only once. After halftime, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder took over the game by sheer force of will, going 6-for-9 from the field and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, pulling down five rebounds – tied for the most on the team in the second half with sophomore Tyrone Wallace, adding four of his game-high nine assists.
Cobbs forced the Beavers' zone to collapse inside, opening up the perimeter, where Powers reigned – and rained – supreme, pouring in four of his six three-point attempts. Of Powers' 13 field goals this season, 11 have been from beyond the arc.
Nelson, though, was positively arctic after the break, though, going just 3-for-10 from the field and 1-for-4 from three-point range, as Oregon State shot 10-for-27 (37%) from the field and 2-for-9 from three.
Cobbs, Powers and Wallace – who went 5-for-10 from the field, 1-for-3 from three-point land and 6-for-10 from the free throw line en route to 17 points, with six assists and six boards -- combined for 42 points in the second half, shooting a combined 12-for-21 from the field.
After a jumper by Eric Moreland put the Beavers up by nine with 18:10 left in the game, Wallace took it to the cup for a lay-up, only to miss, but after two more tip-in attempts by 6-foot-5 guard from Bakersfield, Calif., Kravish came in to clean up the garbage, setting up a 14-5 run which saw the two teams knotted at 53 with 13:49 to go. With the Beavers up 61-60 with 10:45 left on the clock, Cal's defense took the air out of Gill Coliseum, holding Oregon State scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting until Nelson broke the spell with a jumper at 6:22. During that span, the Beavers turned the ball over three times as Powers went 2-for-3 from long distance. His pocket trey with 8:14 left sent the Bears bench into a tizzy, as even injured Jabari Bird leaped to his feet as Cal took a nine-point lead. The Bears would lead by at least six points for the rest of the game until Nelson's three at the buzzer.
-- Five Cal players scored in double digits, including Cobbs (20), Wallace (17), Solomon (15), Kravish (16) and Powers (14).
-- The Bears scored 40 points in the paint, 18 off the bench and 14 off of turnovers. Oregon State committed 13 turnovers – all forced, while Cal committed five turnovers on 75 possessions.
-- The Beavers had just six second-chance points, and the Bears had 10, despite not getting their first offensive rebound until 3:47 to go in the first half.
-- Powers had not yet attempted a free throw this season until there were 30 seconds left in the game. He swished both of his attempts to give Cal an eight-point lead.
-- After going 26-for-29 from the free throw line against the Ducks, the Bears started 5-for-10 from the charity stripe in the first half on Saturday, but then hit 15-of-22 from the line in the second half.
-- After being out-rebounded 19-12 in the first half, Cal won the battle of the boards in the second half, 21-17.
-- The last time the Bears started conference play 3-0 was during the 2009-09 season, when Cal started out 4-0 against Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State and Washington, before falling 75-69 to Stanford.
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