Cal rides Crabbe’s sweet-shooting second half to first road win

Danielle Lee/File
Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez kept the Bears afloat in the first half, scoring 10 of the squad's first 13 points of the contest.

Sometimes a shooter just needs one shot to get going.

For Allen Crabbe, that shot came 29 minutes into the Cal men’s basketball team’s 77-60 win over Oregon on Sunday. His pull-up 3-pointer was the start of a 13-0 scoring run that put the Bears up 17. But just as importantly, it got the sophomore guard going at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore.

“It’s one of my gifts that I can shoot the ball really well,” Crabbe said. “I just feel like if I can get them up and I’m going that night, I can help my team.”

After a cold first half in which he missed four of his five field goals, Crabbe caught fire in the second half, scored 23 of his season-high 26 points in the period. He was 6-for-8 overall from long range, and also grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds.

Crabbe was responsible for 10 of the points on the game-changing streak, including three 3-pointers. He was feeling it at the nine-minute mark when he sunk a step back from behind the arc to cap off the run, forcing Oregon coach Dana Altman to call a timeout.

“If you’re standing, you’re an easy target,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Once he started moving he’s a little bit more difficult to locate. And once he made a couple, the basket looked like a barrel to him.”

The final score shows a double-digit margin, but much of the game — and nearly the entire first half — was back-and-forth. The Bears (13-4, 3-1 in the Pac-12) led, 30-27, thanks to the heroics of Jorge Gutierrez. The senior guard scored 10 of Cal’s first 13 points, keeping a sloppy Bears team close early in the contest. Gutierrez filled up the stat sheet as usual, tallying 18 points, six boards and four assists, including a beautiful feed to forward Bak Bak for an easy layup near the end of the half.

Point guard Justin Cobbs opened the second half with a fallaway jumper in the paint, but Oregon (11-5, 2-2) hit consecutive 3-pointers to retake the lead. The Bears immediately responded with eight straight points, the latter two a baseline jumper from Cobbs, who scored 15 and dished out six assists.

Cal’s trio of guards all played heavy minutes, 37 each, since reserve point guard Brandon Smith did not dress after suffering a concussion in the Bears’ loss to Oregon State on Thursday. Nonetheless, they powered the offense; no other Cal player scored more than six points.

The Ducks’ leading scorer Devoe Joseph guard had 14 points, just one below his average, but several of those baskets came in garbage time when the outcome was not in doubt. Garrett Sim, who came in averaging 12.5 points, had just five.

The teams mainly traded baskets after the Bears’ spurt midway through the half. With one minute remaining, Crabbe beat the shot clock with a step back 3-pointer, the exclamation point on an electrifying second period. For good measure, Gutierrez intercepted Oregon’s inbounds pass moments later. Such was the second half for the Ducks.

Sunday marked Cal’s first true road win of the season, and allowed the squad to salvage its first conference road trip after losing to the Beavers by seven on Thursday. Montgomery has yet to lose to Oregon since becoming Cal’s coach.

The Bears return home to face conference leader Colorado at 8 p.m. on Thursday. The Buffaloes are coming off a home sweep of the Washington schools after crushing Utah by 40 in their Pac-12 opener.