The 2-3 zone defense, the 7,220 feet of altitude, the slow-down offense, the three-point shooting of Josh Adams -- it all played into a hard-fought 78-72 road win for California (5-2) on Saturday at Wyoming.
The Bears victory broke Wyoming’s 17-game homecourt winning streak, and Cal became the first Pac-12 team in nine tries to come out of the Dome of Doom with a win.
"It was a big win for our program to able to find a way to win a game on the road going into overtime in a hostile, tough environment with the altitude and everything going against you against a team that grinds you out and plays a physical brand," said head coach Cuonzo Martin. "They pressure you and force you into off-balance shots. You have to be patient and be aggressive. You have to make plays. Road games are very tough. To play at the level the way Larry Shyatt coaches this team, we knew it would be tough, but we found a way to get a win, especially with key guys fouling out."
For the fourth straight game, freshman Jaylen Brown had four or more fouls, and the second time in those four games, he fouled out. Ivan Rabb fouled out with 1:53 to go in regulation, after which Wyoming went on a 9-2 run to force the extra period.
Eight minutes into the first half, though, it was the perimeter -- not the interior -- that was an issue for the Bears. Adams was 4-of-6 from the field, and 3-of-4 from three-point land, as Wyoming went on an 18-4 run after Martin pulled the starters five lackluster minutes into the game. Then, the Golden Bears welded Roger Moute a Bidias to Adams's hip, stanching the bleeding and allowing Cal to go on a 14-2 run to end the first half.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1619686-zone-challenged-ca... "Roger did a tremendous job in defending," said Martin. "Adams is a big-time power player, we knew that. We knew he is a high level guy that takes good shots and makes big plays. Sam did a great job coming off the bench and making 3s, attacking the rim and making plays. That's what it's about when you're a team. You have your experienced guys that are battled tested that find ways to win games."
In the second half, though, Adams was able to find the lane, and after the Bears went on a 19-7 run to take a 12-point lead, Adams pulled the Cowboys back even, going 4-of-6 from the floor and 2-of-3 from three-point range, scoring 12 points, but having to earn every one. Adams's dozen points, as well as an eight-point outburst from sophomore Alan Herndon, who capitalized on Rabb's foul trouble, forced overtime.
Then, a long two by Tyrone Wallace off a pick by Stephen Domingo, a key pickpocket steal by Sam Singer with 46 seconds left and an 18-foot two from Jordan Mathews -- after burning 16 seconds on the clock and seeing no attempt to foul by Wyoming -- was all the margin Cal needed to come away with a win in Laramie.
Wallace was his usual self, scoring a team-high 23 points on 10-of-22 shooting, though he went 2-of-6 at the free-throw line, and added six rebounds, six assists, and most crucially, three steals, all coming in the first half, when Wyoming gave up nine turnovers.
The Bears scored 10 points off of those turnovers in the first half, with Wallace following up two straight Singer three-pointers with a strip steal and a breakaway right-handed slam dunk to put the capper on a 9-0 run to end the opening stanza. Wallace and Singer, though, couldn't have made that run without Moute a Bidias, who held Adams to 0-for-5 from the field once he entered in the first half, as the senior point scored just two points on free throws over the final 12 minutes of the first half.
"You learn every game," said Martin. "You have a talented team, but you still have new parts learning how to gel together. It takes time and the best way to learn is in games. It's hard to learn and get a good gauge in practice. When you get in live-game situations, you learn to make decisions. We learned and we grew up a little bit today"
Mathews also played a big part in defending Adams, and it was defense that kept Cal going before the break, as Mathews and Jabari Bird were a combined 1-of-7 from the field, with Rabb playing just five minutes.
Those shooting woes continued through into the start of the second half, as Mathews went 3-of-8 and Brown went 0-for-4. After Rabb hit a free throw and came out at 10:35 with four fouls, Moute a Bidias broke up a pass from Adams, staying in his hip pocket and preventing him from getting any kind of clean look from three. In fact, Adams went from 13:20 in the first half to 18:11 of the second between field goals, in large part thanks to Moute a Bidias's defense.
With Adams contained, the Bears went on a 19-7 run from 17:30 to 9:44, but as fouls mounted on Moute a Bidias, Adams begin to get freer and freer looks, particularly driving the lane. With Moute a Bidias sitting down with four fouls, Adams crossed over Singer to tie the game at 66 with his 28th and 29th points, even after going down moments earlier with what looked like a badly twisted ankle, landing on Moute a Bidias's foot on a contested deep three.
While Adams and Herndon heated up, Cal went ice cold, going 1-for-12 from the field to close out regulation. With 14 seconds left on the clock, Wallace took the in-bound, but was caught in a trap out of the 2-3 zone, running for a jumper at 20 feet, but missing off the back iron.
With Brown and Rabb on the bench, the Bears went with Kameron Rooks (who started his second straight game), Bird, Wallace, Singer and Mathews to start overtime, with Mathews hitting a quick three off a pick from Rooks on Adams, breaking his 0-for-6 streak from beyond the arc.
Moute a Bidias's defense on Adams cost him, as he was dinged for four fouls in the second half, and fouled out of the game with 3:21 left in overtime. After two free throw makes by Adams, Mathews hit a jumper and Rooks scored a tip-in, giving the Bears a 71-69 lead.
After a three by Adams hit off the back iron, Mathews got the rebound and pushed up to Wallace, who rolled off a pick from Domingo to hit his long two, setting up Singer's steal off the in-bound with 46 seconds left to all but seal the win, as Mathews hit two free throws, then came up with a steal on Adams, only to be fouled and hit yet another freebie for the final tally. Mathews scored the Bears' final five points, and eight of their final 12.
- With today’s 78-72 OT win, Cal leads the series with Wyoming, 5-2. Today’s contest was the first ever meeting in Laramie. The Bear victory also broke Wyoming’s 17-game homecourt winning streak.
- Cal played its first overtime game since downing Montana, 78-76, in double OT on Dec. 3, 2014 in Berkeley.
- With 23 points. Tyrone Wallace passed Jackie Ridgle (1969-71) for 17th place on Cal’s career scoring list, now with 1,268 points. Next up in Cal history is No. 16 Roy Fisher, who had 1,382 points from 1988-91.
- With his 23 points, Tyrone Wallace also scored in double figures for the 22nd game in a row. It was his fourth 20-point game of the season. He added 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in his 41 minutes of action.
- Jordan Mathews has made at least one three-pointer in each of his last 15 games and in 29 of his past 30. He waited until overtime to make his three-pointer vs. Wyoming.
- Kameron Rooks earned his second straight start for the Bears. He tied his career high with 6 rebounds.
- Cal held Wyoming scoreless the last 4:20 of the first half, outscoring the Cowboys, 9-0, during the stretch.
- Cal forced Wyoming into 11 turnovers – most for a Cal opponent this year.
- Cal’s 8 three-pointers were its most since the Bears connected on 10 in their season-opener vs. Rice.
- Ivan Rabb finished with 13 points on a perfect shooting day – 5-5 FG, 3-3 FT. He’s now shooting 66.7% on the season (38-57 FG).
- Three Golden Bears fouled out during the game – Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Roger Moute a Bidias.