Ayinde Ubaka fired a contested three with 15 seconds left, but the shot came off the back rim, and Cal's post-season hopes may have died with the shot. Of the crucial possession Ben Braun said, "We wanted to run a sequence of screens, but they were switching some screens on us. We wanted to see if we could get a good look for three. You don't want to let the clock wind down. We were going to set the screen, Ayinde elected not to come off it and just try to create space off the dribble, which he did." The coaches wanted to leave enough time for an offensive rebound or a foul if the shot missed.
Cal took a 57-54 lead on Jerome Randle's fast break lay-up with eight minutes left, but Arizona responded almost immediately with an old -fashioned three-point play by Marcus Williams to tie the game at 57.
Following the TV timeout with 7:36 left, the Cats went on an 8-2 run to take control at 65-59. The last point came on the technical free throw by Ivan Radenovic. Radenovic had blocked an inside attempt by Theo Robertson, and Braun exploded. After the game, the Cal coach said, "I don't pick up technicals very often. I guess I saw it differently. I thought there was some contact with the body. I've got to fight for our team.
Neither team scored for the next 4 minutes, as Arizona refused to put Cal away. During that stretch, Arizona turned the ball over 5 times, but Cal could not capitalize on the Arizona errors.
Finally, Ryan Anderson's lay-up with 1:03 left broke the drought. Anderson drew the foul and the free throw made it 65-62. Jawann McClellan made one of two free throws, but Ubaka nailed a difficult step back three to make it 66-65 with 31 seconds left. Williams and Shakur closed out the scoring by each making a pair from the line.
|AP Photo/Ben Margot
During the crucial stretch when Arizona made their run, the Cal offense broke down. Ubaka said, "We were just being passive, we weren't attacking" The Bears also got burned in transition. As Ubaka said, "They got a lot of easy transition buckets. They scored on makes and misses. We just didn't hustle back on defense"
As has become the pattern, Cal started off the game impressively. It was 4-3 Arizona at the first TV timeout. With the slow start to the game, many in the crowd began to wonder what was happening over at the UCLA vs. Washington State game.
Anderson's jumper gave the home team the lead, and the score was 21-13 when Ryan Anderson banked in a three-pointer with 10:39 left in the first half. Led by Radenovic, Williams and Chase Budinger, Arizona came back to regain the lead. It was 34-34 when Mustafa Shakur hit his only bucket of the game at the buzzer on a difficult drive to give Arizona a 36-34 halftime lead. Budinger was superb in the first half with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Radenovic led the scoring with 12 points.
Arizona shot 48% from the floor in the first half to Cal's 39%. The bigger Cats out rebounded Cal by an 18 to 14 margin.
In the second half, Cal picked up their defense. They did a much better job on Budinger, holding him to 8 points on 3-10 shooting. They held Arizona to 37% from the field, and raised their percentage to 45%. Ultimately, Arizona won the game at the foul line. They hit 20 of 26 free throws, while the home team got to the line only 8 times, making 7. Braun cited the free throw discrepancy as a key factor in his post-game remarks.
|AP Photo/Ben Margot
Cal did an excellent job on Shakur. Arizona's point guard had an awful game. Coach Lute Olson said, "All you have to do is look at his stats to see he really had a bad game" Shakur was 1 for 9 on field goals, with 0-5 on threes. He had five assists, but also five turnovers.
Olson complimented Cal's effort after the game: "I thought Ben and his staff really did a good job with the game plan" Cal took advantage of their quickness, and did a good job getting to the basket. Arizona focused on taking away Ryan Anderson. Said Olson, "We double teamed Ryan Anderson a lot, because he's a really good player, and a tough guy for anyone to defend on a one-on-one basis"
It was a frustrating loss. The Bears came close, but it's far too late in the season for moral victories to provide any satisfaction. There's no doubt that the team played really hard, and mostly well. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough; the Bears fell to 14-15 overall and 6-11 in the conference.
Saturday afternoon, Cal will play their final home game against Arizona State. It will be the final home game for seniors Alex Pribble and Ubaka. An effort like the one against Arizona should reward the fans with a solid victory.
- Ubaka led Cal with 15 points.
- Cal made just 6-21 from outside the arc.
- Marcus Williams led Arizona with 21 points. Radenovic added 19.
- Budinger finished with a double-double: 8 points and 12 rebounds.
©Copyright 2007, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.
If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.
Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.