Cal nearly pulled off an amazing last-minute comeback at UCLA on Thursday by scoring 13 points in a span of 37 seconds in the final minute, with nine of those points being scored by freshman Allen Crabbe.
Cal (9-9, 2-4) ultimately lost on Reeves Nelson’s tip-in at the buzzer 86-84, and it was the second time this season the young Golden Bears have nearly pulled out a Pac-10 game in the closing seconds on the road at a tough venue.
(Stanford shoots 22.2 percent in loss to USC.)
Against Arizona on Jan. 6, the Bears trailed by six points with less than a minute left at what is considered one of the nation’s toughest sites for visiting teams. But Cal got to within a point with 33 seconds left, got the margin down to one point again with 11 seconds to go, and just fell short in a 72-70 loss to one of the conference’s top teams.
Thursday’s comeback was even more impressive. The Bears trailed by 14 points with less than four minutes left and were still behind by eight points with less than a minute to go.
But the Bears scored 13 points in a span of 37 seconds, capped off by a three-pointer by Crabbe that tied the score with 10 seconds to go.
The game seemed headed for overtime, when UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt missed a jump shot, but the rugged Nelson got his hand on the ball and tipped in the miss just as the buzzer sounded to provide the Bruins (12-6, 4-2) with an 86-84 victory.
The game showed how tough-minded the Bears are, and it demonstrated again how far Crabbe has come. Although Harper Kamp was the team’s top scorer with 21 points, Crabbe was the story, as he scored nine points in the final 46 seconds to nearly win the game himself.
Crabbe, who is from Los Angeles, had just eight points to that point, but then exploded. Crabbe made a jumper with 46 seconds left to make it a four-point game. He hit another jumper with 28 seconds left to make the margin two, and he added two foul shots at the 22-second mark to get the margin down to two points again.
That set things up for his three-pointer to tie the game with 10.8 seconds to go. It was Cal’s first and only three-pointer of the game after missing its first four treys.
Crabbe finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, but what was more impressive was his ability to produce at the end after having a mediocre game.
“He doesn’t give up, he doesn’t get down on himself, he stays positive,” Kamp told the Oakland Tribune. “He was money at the end.”
How this will affect the Bears for Saturday’s game at USC is unknown. Cal bounced back from its two-point loss against Arizona to beat Arizona State, but the Trojans have some big beefy guys inside (Alex Stepheson and Nik Vucevik) who will make things difficult for Cal.
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