Cal Escapes Marshall, 72-70, in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Thundering Herd men's basketball team gave a valiant effort against the California Golden Bears Thursday night, but missed out on some late opportunities at the end of regulation as Cal outlasted Marshall, 72-70, in the opening round of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. The Herd gave its best effort of the season in a game that featured 25 lead changes and 14 ties.

Marshall fought back with great effort at the end of regulation after falling down four, 66-62, with 3:27 to go on a four-point play by Cal's Jerome Randle. The Herd responded, and eventually cut the lead to two on a Jean Francois Bro Grebe (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) lay-up to make the score 68-66. Sophomore Darryl Merthie (Sanford, Fla.) got a steal on the ensuing inbounds and missed a layup, but Travis Aikens (Orlando, Fla.) got the offensive rebound and was fouled on his layup attempt. Aikens knocked down both free throws to tie the score at 68 with 1:12 to play.

Markel Humphrey put up a shot over Cal's Omar Wilkes in the second half at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska Thursday night. Humphrey scored 13 points in Marshall's 72-70 loss to Cal. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

On Cal's next inbounds play, Ayinde Ubaka traveled trying to put the ball in play, giving the ball back to the Herd with a chance to win the game. Marshall milked the clock down to 33 seconds, but Markel Humphrey's (Ellenwood, Ga.) jumper in the lane missed to the right. Humphrey grabbed the rebound, but missed the putback, and Cal's Ryan Anderson took down the rebound and was fouled by Bro Grebe. Anderson made both free throws to put the Golden Bears back up by two, 70-68.

The Herd, who had the ball with the shot clock off with 28 seconds to play, took the game clock down to five seconds, but Chris Ross (San Antonio, Texas) was called for a charge in the lane. Anderson, who was fouled on Cal's next possession, made another two free throws to push the Golden Bears' to four with four seconds to play.

Jean Francois Bro Grebe rejected this shot by Cal's Ryan Anderson in the first half. Bro Grebe had four blocks in the 72-70 loss, in addition to 14 points. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall's Tyler Wilkerson (Lexington, Ky.) threw a perfect baseball pass to inbound the ball to Bro Grebe, who quickly turned and made the bucket to make the score 72-70. The Herd played great defense on the next inbounds play, but Cal averted the five-second call to come away with the win.

"We had a chance to win the game," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa. "We played hard tonight and gave a great effort, and now we have to regroup for tomorrow. We played with a lot of heart."

Robbie Jackson blocked the path of Cal's Jerome Randle in the first half. Jackson had five rebounds in the game. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

For the game, the Herd shot 38.5% from the floor, 27.3% from three, and a stellar 87.5% from the free throw line. Marshall was outrebounded by Cal, 42-35. California shot 33.9% from the floor, 44% from the three, and an incredible 95% from the free throw line.

Marshall led by one at the half, 30-29, its first lead heading into the mid-game break of the season.

Aikens and Bro Grebe led Marshall with 14 points apiece. Bro Grebe was a force at the defensive end of the floor, blocking four shots and altering many more. Bro Grebe's point and block totals were both career highs. Humphrey led the Herd on the glass with six rebounds.

"Francois played his best game so far," said Jirsa. "He was a force in the low post, and played more aggressive on offense. That's the Francois we know, and we've got to see more of that."

California was led by Ubaka's 21 points, including a career-best five three-point field goals. Freshman Ryan Anderson scored 19 points, and Jerome Randle added 14 points for the Golden Bears.

Marshall will play Hofstra Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. Alaskan Time. It will be the first ever meeting between the two schools. Hofstra fell by one point, 80-79, in their first round game with Hawaii. Cal will take on the Rainbow Warriors at 8 p.m. Alaskan Time.

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