As Mike Montgomery made a “T” with his hands to call a timeout, the crowd began to stand.
Forty seconds remained in Saturday’s contest, but the game was over. By the time Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez reached the bench, all 11,331 fans were on their feet and applauding Cal’s lone two seniors in their final game at Haas Pavilion, a 77-63 win over Oregon State.
“I was still just looking up at the clock,” Kamp said. “The game is never really over for me. I was coming out, and I realized it was over. Coach gave me a high five, and I realized that was it.”
The seniors combined for 30 points and 15 rebounds, but like their careers, this game was not about statistics.
The Cal men’s basketball team (22-6, 12-3 in the Pac-12) won Saturday’s game through perseverance and hustle. Kamp was the only starter who did not play the full 20 minutes of the second half, and that was only because he committed his fourth foul with seven minutes remaining.
“In the first half, we didn’t get very good time out of our subs,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t distinguish ourselves there in terms of substitutions. Just didn’t want to give them a chance.”
In the first period, the Beavers (15-12, 5-10) took control of the game as soon as Montgomery went to his bench. It took Oregon State nearly six minutes to score its first basket of the game as the Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead. With just over 11 minutes left in the half, Gutierrez forced Beavers guard Challe Barton into a backcourt violation. Gutierrez then went to work on the offensive glass, twice rebounding Kamp’s misses before he found David Kravish to increase the margin to 12.
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson called a quick timeout, and the Beavers were a changed team.
The squad turned to its trademark 1-3-1 trap defense, igniting a 15-4 run during which Cal turned the ball over four times. Three were committed by backup point guard Brandon Smith, whose entrance into the game overlapped with the Beavers’ spurt. Reserve forward Robert Thurman had the fourth turnover.
“We had a stretch in the first half when we weren’t that comfortable,” Montgomery said. “I think we were our own worst enemies, as usual. We didn’t make smart plays all the time.”
The Bears were burned time and time again by Oregon State’s backdoor cuts and trailed 34-32 at the half as a result. After the teams traded baskets to open the second period, the Bears went on a 19-6 run over the course of seven and a half minutes to take control of the game. On the momentum-changing stretch, the seniors combined for 14 points, including a big three-point play from Gutierrez.
Midway through the half, Gutierrez snagged an offensive rebound and dribbled out to the perimeter. He passed to Cobbs and cut right to the basket. The point guard, who had a career-high 13 assists, found his backcourt mate under the hoop for the basket and the foul.
With 5:26 to go, Jared Cunningham hit a 3-pointer to cut Cal’s lead to six. Coming out of the ensuing timeout, Cobbs drove coast-to-coast and slammed home a dunk. The sophomore then rebounded a Cunningham miss and raced all the way into the paint before dishing the ball to Allen Crabbe for a 3-pointer.
The trey gave the Bears a double-digit lead they would not surrender, enabling Montgomery the breathing room to take out his two seniors with time remaining.
“I was just honored to come out that way and get that standing O — it meant a lot,” Kamp said. “And to be able to greet my teammates and come out with a W, it was so much fun.”