Cal Staves Off Beavers, 65-61

BERKELEY, CA -- With less than two minutes to go, the California Golden Bears were desperately searching for answers…

Just five minutes before, California had a commanding 57-42 lead. But after a few careless turnovers, missed free throws, and a miraculous shot by Oregon State guard Calvin Hayes, the Bears lead was trimmed to three.

With the Haas Pavilion crowd of 8,666 trying to will their Bears to victory, guard Jerome Randle looked to make a play. As he cut into the lane, he attempted a direct pass to forward Theo Robertson. The pass was erratic, a floater that could have easily carried into the stands, a mistake that could have easily been deflected into the backcourt, leading to some Oregon State fast break points.

Instead, the erratic pass managed to land into the outstretched arms of Robertson, right in bounds.

Robertson then managed to quickly balance himself, step forward, and nail the three-point jumper. The three extended the Bears lead to 61-55 with thirty seconds to play, and while Cal still needed timely free throws to officially seal the game, it was Robertson's three that put them back in control, giving them the upper hand.

And while this play was a big moment in this game, it also draws parallels to the 2009-10 California basketball season.

It has been an erratic season for the Bears, mired with blowout losses on the road, last-second losses at home, untimely injuries, and just overall inconsistent play. A season that began with high expectations now has the media pegging the Bears as "overrated." A season that began with a top-15 ranking currently shows the Bears far away from making any top 25 list.

But despite the tough times, the Bears 65-61 win over Oregon State places the Bears at 5-2, good for first in the Pac-10. The win puts them in a position where they can extend their lead these next two weeks, all on the road.

But most importantly, the Bears victory places themselves that much closer to finding that missing identity. The return of guard Jorge Gutierrez gives head coach Mike Montgomery another weapon to use. With more practice and game action, the Bears are surely to improve.

"We'll take a win any day of the week," said Robertson. "But we want to get better."

So while many consider this season a disappointment, the goals are still well within reach: a Pac-10 championship, an NCAA Tournament berth, and a chance to play well into March. As long as the Bears execute and finish strong, nobody will remember the erratic play earlier on the basketball court.

After all, the stat sheet only says, "3-pointer by Theo Robertson, Assist by Jerome Randle."

And the crowd will only remember how great of a shot it was.

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