With less than 20 seconds left to play and down by four, Cal point guard Tyrone Wallace paused near the top of the box before exploding down the lane. Fouled for an extra basket as he made the critical layup, Wallace cut Richmond’s lead to just one in a game that had seen the Bears down by as much as 15.
But even the late game heroics from the senior guard wouldn’t be enough to seal the remarkable comeback.
Coming up just short in a 94-90 loss to the Spiders, the No. 14 Cal men’s basketball team (4-2) logged its second defeat of the season in a down-to-the-wire finish in Las Vegas on Friday night. The loss follows the Bears’ defeat to San Diego State on Thursday, and leaves Cal heading back to Berkeley empty-handed after its first two road games of the year.
Richmond is less highly touted than Cal’s opponent from the previous night, but it was apparent that a win over the Atlantic-10 program wouldn’t come easily for the Bears. Starting off the evening 0-4 from the field, the squad allowed the Spiders to gain the first lead off of a pair of layups from forwards T.J. Cline and Terry Allen.
The Bears countered with a quick play in transition by forward Jaylen Brown, and it wasn’t long until Richmond suffered again from the impressive play of the freshman. With Cal down 6-4 just a few minutes later in the first half, Brown found himself with the ball after a free throw by Richmond guard ShawnDre’ Jones. Brown darted right, and then he sprinted through a window between two Richmond defenders to finish the play with a highlight reel left-handed dunk. The basket brought the score to 6-6 with just more than 15 minutes left to play in a neck-and-neck first half.
Led by an impressive outing by Allen, who finished the first frame with 18 points, Richmond kept the game close even after a 6-0 run gave Cal the advantage for a good portion of the half. And despite continued strong play from Brown and Cal guard Jabari Bird — who finished the half with 12 points — the frame nonetheless wound down with a narrow 44-43 lead for the Spiders.
That lead only multiplied in the start of the second. Driving up as much as a 15-point advantage, the Atlantic-10 squad opened the frame with dominance. Jones and forward Marshall Wood gave a clinic in the opening five minutes, and heading into the closing 15, it looked like the Spiders had cracked the Bears’ defense beyond repair.
Yet, Cal eventually found an answer. Switching to a 2-3 zone, the Bears brought their opponent’s offense to a screeching halt as they embarked on a remarkable 16-2 run. And with less than six minutes left to play, Cal took the lead for the first time since the first half.
The remainder of the matchup would be a back-and-forth battle between the two teams. But after going 0-4 from the field in the final minutes of the match, Cal chased its opponent as the final seconds slipped off the clock. Richmond solidified the win with near-flawless free throw shooting to close out the game.