When your leading scorer doesn’t have a single point at the half, you don’t expect to be winning. When your top three scorers go a combined 2-for-17, you expect to be getting killed.
“They’re just disciplined, in pretty good position all the time,” Cal forward Harper Kamp said of Colorado’s defense. “They stuck to that, and they played hard.”
But Cal was only down by seven points at the half on Thursday despite a porous 31 percent clip from the field. The Bears didn’t exactly shoot lights out in the second half, but they made enough baskets to edge out the Buffaloes, 59-50, at Haas Pavilion.
Colorado did not take advantage of the Bears’ inability to put the ball in the basket. In fact, the Buffaloes actually scored one fewer bucket than Cal, but they got to the free throw line 15 times, making 10 of them. Colorado’s leading scorer Carlon Brown had just five at the half. He made one basket in three tries. Jorge Gutierrez, likewise, made one basket — but in 10 attempts. He and Allen Crabbe were missing midrange jumpers, usually their bread and butter.
“The truth of the matter is, we didn’t screen anybody,” coach Mike Montgomery said.
The Bears had three blocks, helped force Colorado into committing eight turnovers and played overall solid defense to keep the deficit within range. Cal opened the second half with six consecutive points. Suddenly the Buffaloes were having more trouble scoring than the Bears, aside from forward Austin Dufault, who had a game-high 19 points.
“He shot the ball well tonight,” Kamp said. “We knew he was a good shooter. Maybe we didn’t give him enough credit.”
Maybe the Buffaloes didn’t give Kamp enough credit. While everyone else was missing shots, Kamp had perhaps his best game of the season, scoring 14 on a combination of baseline jumpers and post moves.
Kamp played like a senior against Colorado. His offensive numbers thus far have been down compared to last season, but he’s never let that affect him. It was his turn on Thursday, and he guided Cal to a gutsy win.