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Cal men's basketball defeats Wyoming in overtime, 78-72

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PHILLIP DOWNEY | SENIOR STAFF

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DECEMBER 05, 2015

Cal point guard Tyrone Wallace dribbled the ball near the top of the key, waiting.

The game was tied at 62-62, and the Cal men’s basketball team had possession with just less than 30 seconds left in its matchup with Wyoming on Saturday afternoon. But after watching the Cowboys eat away a 12-point lead at the end of the second half, not even the senior would be able to close out the contest in regulation. Wallace launched a long jumper from just inside the arc with less than five seconds remaining, but could only watch as it missed in front of the Cowboys’ exuberant home crowd. The Bears were headed to overtime.

Ultimately, despite a brief lead by the Mountain West squad in extra minutes, Cal was able to finish out the game with a 78-72 win in Laramie — avoiding the upset but offering little reassurance in what has been a difficult stretch for the Bears this season. The overtime victory marks Cal’s second consecutive tightly contested matchup this week against an unranked opponent and follows two defeats in Las Vegas to San Diego State and Richmond, respectively, the previous week. Other than its win over Sam Houston State, the Bears have struggled to look like the dominant team it was projected to be at the start of the season.

“You have a talented team, but you still have new parts learning how to gel together,” said Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin. “It takes time and the best way to learn is in games. It’s hard to learn and get a good gauge in practice. When you get in live-game situations, you learn to make decisions. We learned and we grew up a little bit today.”

From the start, it was clear that a win over the Cowboys would prove challenging. Though the Bears would finish out the half with a six-point advantage, the outcome was hardly representative of the first 20 minutes of play.

Wallace was the first one to get on the board after making a layup in the first possession — kickstarting an opening five minutes that tipped in favor of the Bears as the squad surged to a 12-7 lead. But Wyoming soon countered, and off of an impressive performance from senior guard Josh Adams, embarked on a dominant run of their own to take the lead, 18-16, with under ten minutes left in the first frame.

The Cowboys didn’t stop there. With Cal forward Ivan Rabb mostly on the bench after picking up two fouls, the Cowboys went on a 5-0 surge that brought the lead to 23-16. Yet, a couple of explosive plays from Wallace — including a steal turned easy layup and a dunk soon after — combined with stronger defense from the Bears allowed the visiting team to claw their way back and ultimately end the half ahead 35-29.

Other than a quick surge by Wyoming at the beginning of the second frame to tie the game, it looked like it would be all Cal for the remainder of the contest. Building and then maintaining a comfortable lead for much of the second half, the Bears appeared on their way to a relatively smooth victory after the tumultuous first frame.

That would all change in the final three minutes. Going on a 9-2 run led by an outstanding performance by Adams, who finished with 32 points, the Cowboys tied up the game with less than a minute left to play, eventually forcing the game into overtime. Though the Bears would come back to close out the game in overtime, Wyoming’s final push was nearly enough to come out on top over the pac-12 squad.

“It was a big win for our program to able to find a way to win a game on the road going into overtime in a hostile, tough environment with the altitude and everything going against you against a team that grinds you out and plays a physical brand,” Martin said.

Contact Dani Jo Coony at 

LAST UPDATED

DECEMBER 05, 2015


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