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March 10, 2012
Bears drop second straight to Buffaloes in semifinals
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LOS ANGELES -- Twelve and a half miles from Burbank, Calif. -- the production home of virtually every sitcom that's either made it or not -- the California men's basketball team's first half against Colorado on Friday night looked like a terrible, mid-afternoon rerun on FOX.
Like their Pac-12 quarterfinal matchup against Stanford the night before, the Bears looked frazzled offensively.
Again, their leading actor was nowhere to be found.
Again, Cal couldn't hold onto the basketball, turning it over 17 times.
And again, the Bears trailed an entire 20 minutes.
The difference this time though? The show was a double feature.
Try as he might to ride in and save the day again, John Wayne-style, senior guard Jorge Gutierrez and Cal couldn't overcome a hot-shooting Buffalos squad, falling 70-59 to end their conference tournament run at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
"Obviously it looked like we weren't ready. We get down 12-2 and look like we were on a walk in the park," Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. "Why would you come out that way? You're in a tournament where you've got three games to win it, that's your objective. So I don't get that."
Gutierrez finished with 10 points and four rebounds, shooting 4-of-10 from the field and 1-for-3 from three-point range.
Colorado -- which moves on to face Arizona in the tournament finale -- looked like the fresher team from the get-go, ironic considering the Buffs were playing their third game in as many days, the second of which ended just 20 or so hours before tip.
But instead, it was Cal that looked fatigued.
Coming off of a game that saw four Bears notch 36 or more minutes, Cal often settled for jumpers instead of attacking the basket like it had so successfully in the second half against the Cardinal.
The Bears scored just four first-half points in the paint, and failed to tally a single second-chance point or fast-break bucket.
"Colorado played three nights in a row, didn't seem to bother them much. But did it play a factor? Yes," Montgomery said. "We looked tired. It was probably tough on us with playing the few guys who we do, but again, it's their third game and they seemed pretty fresh."
Led by Gutierrez and a more confidently-shooting sophomore wing Allen Crabbe, Cal was much more aggressive in the second stanza, scoring 16 paint points and getting to the line 15 times.
Crabbe scored a game-high 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, going 3-for-10 from three-point range but taking only three foul shots -- which he made. Crabbe pulled down five boards and the Bears out-rebounded the Buffaloes 31-25.
A combination of Colorado's near-60-percent second-half shooting clip and more major minutes from the Cal starters fueled the Buffs' pull-away in the final eight minutes.
The win pits Colorado against the Wildcats in the tournament championship game Saturday, for a chance at the Pac-12's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
As for Cal, which many considered a lock in the Big Dance following its win Thursday night, the Bears can't be completely confident.
Cal dropped three of its final four games -- two in convincing fashion to Colorado -- which may contribute to an anxious Selection Sunday night.
"What do you need to do? 24 wins, single-digit losses, you have a decent RPI, whatever that means," Montgomery said. "If you can't make it with 13 wins in this conference, then I don't know what we need to do."
As a team, the Bears shot 21-of-49 from the field (42.9 percent) and 31.3 percent from three-point range. The Buffaloes shot 25-for-50 from the field and 5-of-14 from beyond the arc. Colorado also hit 15-of-18 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe, while Cal shot 12-of-17 (70.6 percent).
The Buffaloes posted 10 steals on the evening, highlighted by four apiece from Carlon Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie. The Bears only notched four, with two apiece coming from Crabbe and Gutierrez. Brown and Andre Roberson each scored 17 points.
The Bears matched their season high with six blocks. They also had six blocks against McNeese State on Nov. 28, 2011.
Gutierrez's 10 points moved into 20th place in career points at Cal, to pass Doug True (1977-80). He now has 1,221 career points.
Senior power forward Harper Kamp had six points before he fouled out, passing Andy Wolfe (1946-48) to move into 29th place for all-time for career points at Cal. He now has 1,114 career points. This marked Kamp's 132nd career game, tying Jerome Randle (2007-10) for second-place all-time. Only Patrick Christopher (2007-10) played in more games for the Bears (134). Gutierrez played in his 128th career game to match Keith Smith (1987-90) for fourth-place in career games at Cal.
Gutierrez's three assists to move into fifth-place for Cal career assists. He passed Ayinde Ubaka (2004-07) and now has 418 in his career.
The Bears recorded assists on nine of their 11 first-half field goals.
Sophomore point guard Justin Cobbs dished out four assists and tied Randle (2009) for ninth-place for single-season assists. He now has 165 assists, this season.