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Bears Come Back From Big Deficit and Shock the Card at Maples

December 30, 2017
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PALO ALTO, CA -For nearly 33 minutes, Cal's Pac-12 opener vs. Stanford on the road looked like a comfortable Stanford win and a disappointing loss for the Bears. But in the end, the Bear would not quit and the Bear would not die as the Bears outscored Stanford by 19 points to close out the game on a 27-8 run to shock the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion, 77-74.

After a lackluster first half, the Bears scored 53 of their 77 points in the 2nd half, shooting a blistering 62% after scoring just 24 points on 30% shooting in the opening stanza.

Coming into the game, Cal's matchup with Stanford looked like one of the more winnable games on their Pac-12 schedule. Both entered with disappointing 6-7 records and some ugly upset defeats. The Bears had also played well in their two road games, upsetting San Diego State and pinning a 20-point loss on a decent 8-win Seattle squad heading into the Christmas break, but the game looked and felt anything like a potential upset, outside of the first few minutes of the game -that is until the Bears' late game heroics.

The early minutes of the game saw the Bears jump out to a quick 6-2 lead on the strength of a Marcus Lee turnaround jumper and put back but it was all downhill from there. Lee scored six of the Bears first eight points.

Stanford got a boost with a return to the lineup of key contributor senior guard Dorian Pickens, who'd played only three games so far this season. Pickens (13 points) made his presence felt right away, swishing a deep 3-point shot to key a 13-0 Stanford run after the Bears' early lead - lead they'd maintain until the waning moments of the game.

The Cardinal built a 17-point lead on the strength of good ball movement resulting in open shots from the perimeter and tough inside play on both ends of the court. They simply outmuscled a seemingly physically-inferior Cal team, especially with center Kingsley Okoroh and forward Marcus Lee going to the bench with two early fouls. The early foul trouble necessitated head coach Wyking Jones giving 12 players first half minutes, emptying the bench.

Stanford took a 13-point, 37-24 lead into the half, with four players already approaching double figures. It could've been a lot worse considering the disparity in play.

Okoroh wasted no time compounding his foul trouble after the break, earning his third foul two minutes into the 2nd half.

Twice the Bears whittled the Stanford lead down to 10 but Stanford continued to push their lead out by a few buckets to again lead by as much as 17 before the Bears finally put on an 11-1 run to pull to within seven at 66-59 with 5:04 to go.

The Bears' run was keyed by some impressive play by Lee and some aggressive defense, forcing several Stanford turnovers. 

An emphatic Michael Humphrey follow-up jam ended the run at the 4:37 mark followed by another Humphrey bank shot and it looked like it was all over for the Bears, but their was no quit in the young Bears squad. A pair of driving layups in traffic by wing Justice Sueing following a McNeill trey got the Bears back in it. An inside bucket by Sueing, followed by the and-1 narrowed the lead to just three with 2:13 to play. 

Stanford gave themselves some breathing room with a bucket and free throw by Reid Travis but the Bears came right back with a Lee turnaround bucket and an improbable Grant Anticevich three buried from the corner, as the Bears trailed by just one with 1:19 to play. The Aussie freshman was mobbed by teammates heading into timeout and there was a feeling in the building  that the Bears would pull off an upset that seemed all but impossible just minutes earlier.

Following a missed jumper by Stanford's Kezie Okpala, Lee secured the rebound, pushing the ball up the court. Sueing spotted a crack in the Stanford defense and took it to the rack from the wing, hitting the go-ahead shot and the free throw after the foul to give the Bears the lead for the first time since the opening minutes at 75-73 with 29 seconds left.

"I just came off the pick and saw an opening in the lane," said Sueing. "KO kind of opened it up for me and I just took it and made the play from there and we took the lead."

Stanford's Travis got the highly-questionable foul call while defended by Lee and hit the first of two free throws with :21 left but missed the second, leaving the Bears with a one-point lead. Guard Don Coleman was fouled after the Sueing rebound and calmly sank his free throws, extending the Bears lead to three at 77-74. 

Stanford was unable to get any closer, as tough Cal defense closed out the big win for the Bears.

The Bears were led by Lee's 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting as well as 18 by Sueing- most scored late, with the game on the line. And despite the early foul trouble, both Lee and Okoroh managed to avoid fouling out, with both playing tight defense to key the comeback win.

Perhaps the most improbable stat after Stanford's earlier inside domination, the Bears managed to outscore the bigger Stanford squad by 14 points in the paint.

Stanford was paced by Humphrey and Travis with 15.

"They did a nice job attacking the basket, especially late in the game," said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase. 

The win was particularly special for Bay Area native Marcus Lee, who grew up in Antioch watching the Cal-Stanford rivalry.

"We knew it was going to be a battle once we walked in," said Lee. "It's been like that ever since I've grown up.

"Just being able to be in the rivalry is epic for me."

"Obviously, we're very excited and happy for the win," said Cal head coach Wyking Jones. "Really proud of my guys and the staff, not throwing in the towel. Just staying with it, chipping away and believing we had a chance to get it done even though we were down, pretty much the entire game.

"Just really excited we found a way to dig ourselves out of a hole. We've been in this situation a couple times and found a way tonight."

"This whole week, coach said when things go wrong, go inwards as a team and that's what we did today," said Seuing. "When we do things together, nothing can stop us."

Discussion from...

Bears Come Back From Big Deficit and Shock the Cards at Maples

MoragaBear
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Staff
Postgame video with Wyking, Justice and Marcus added to story
KoreAmBear
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Wow this is so cool.

How many Monty, Braun and even Cuonzo teams (many with Mickey Dee AA talent and highly rated teams on paper) went into Maples and left empty handed? Yet this team, and this coach does this. Always glad to see Cal beating Furd. Same with SDSU how many times had we lost to them with again with better teams on paper. Hard to understand, but I'm not complaining! What a comeback. Reminds of Jorge willing us to win down 20+ v. Furd at home. I'm hoping we can play like we did in the second half. Is that possible to bottle up and use the rest of the season?
MoragaBear
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Staff
Marcus hinted after the game that the practices have been brutal since the PSU game and Wyking said to expect more of the same going forward.
ddc_Cal
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At the ESPN site, they show game flow and win probability throughout the game.

At the 3:29 mark, Stanfurd was ahead 70 - 59 and their probability of winning was 97.4%, per the site.
KoreAmBear
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ddc_Cal said:

At the ESPN site, they show game flow and win probability throughout the game.

At the 3:29 mark, Stanfurd was ahead 70 - 59 and their probability of winning was 97.4%, per the site.
Glad the 2.6% kicked in!
HoopDreams
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ddc_Cal said:

At the ESPN site, they show game flow and win probability throughout the game.

At the 3:29 mark, Stanfurd was ahead 70 - 59 and their probability of winning was 97.4%, per the site.
at another point odds were 99.1%

KoreAmBear
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HoopDreams said:

ddc_Cal said:

At the ESPN site, they show game flow and win probability throughout the game.

At the 3:29 mark, Stanfurd was ahead 70 - 59 and their probability of winning was 97.4%, per the site.
at another point odds were 99.1%


Wonder what the odds were when we were down 22 in 2009:

MoragaBear
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Staff
Longer highlights:

Calfans
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Even LONGER highlights! Did anybody record the game and can upload to youtube?

Cal-i-for-nia. (Clap, Clap)(Clap, Clap, Clap)

tequila4kapp
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Great win Bears!
concordtom
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Nice job, Jim.
You did it justice.
Bear8995
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I've now watched the highlights at different lengths no less than 10 times. I'm still amazed and SO happy.

Well done on the article MB!

Go Bears!
MoragaBear
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Staff
That win





SFCityBear
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KoreAmBear said:

Wow this is so cool.

How many Monty, Braun and even Cuonzo teams (many with Mickey Dee AA talent and highly rated teams on paper) went into Maples and left empty handed? Yet this team, and this coach does this. Always glad to see Cal beating Furd. Same with SDSU how many times had we lost to them with again with better teams on paper. Hard to understand, but I'm not complaining! What a comeback. Reminds of Jorge willing us to win down 20+ v. Furd at home. I'm hoping we can play like we did in the second half. Is that possible to bottle up and use the rest of the season?
Great post. Thanks.
Mama Bear
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I can't let the year end without confessing that I turned off the Cal game with a few minutes to go in the first half. It was dreadful, and there was such joy at the Coliseum. No excuses. I checked the final score before going to bed and could not believe my eyes.

The good news is that I didn't watch the SDSU game on TV either, just missed it. I may continue "not watching". The "road" Bears are doing the job, not pretty, but gritty.

I did see in the Box Score that Michael Greenstein was one of the officials. Is there a worse official in the Pac-12? I don't think so.

oskidunker
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Mama Bear,! You turned it off? I watched the whole thing. They kept it close enough in the second half for me to still have hope. My seat mate kept calling me to turn on the Warriors as Curry was amazing blah blah blah. I could care less about the Warriors when Cal is playing
Civil Bear
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I only kept watching from my spot at the Crystal Bay Casino because I took the Bears (+7.5) and they kept hanging within striking distance to cover.

...that and because I blew the rest of my gambling stash on craps during halftime.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Cal hoops is unbelievably feast or famine this year. Loved the SDSU, Stanford, Wofford, and Seattle wins. Also some incredibly horrible basketball along the way, too.

Just left the Cal women's game vs UCLA. They came in ranked 20th at 10-2. They started up 7-0 and completely fell apart after that and were losing by 24 when I left.

At least I got to congratulate Justice walking up Bancroft after the game on a great game last night.
SRBear
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I think that coach should be happy the men's coach draws all the attention.
ddc_Cal
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I am certainly Procevich after that game.
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