Surging Bears surge in overtime to lead Trojans before selling out the crowd
For the first time in more than seven years, Haas Pavilion was sold out Wednesday night and packed with 11,801 fans as Cal’s fast-growing basketball team hosted to USC.
And the Bears needed all that help as a 16-point lead early in the second half crumbled over the final 18 minutes of regulation as the Trojans forced overtime and threatened the game to steal completely.
Instead, Mark Madsen delivered the daggers late as 3-pointers from Jalen Celestine and Jalen Cone and some late free throws propelled the Bears to an 83-77 win.
This was a big one for Cal (10-13, 6-6 Pac-12) for several reasons…
When Madsen was hired last year, he talked about seeing crowds like this packed into Haas, and the more the Bears get together with performances like this one, the better. that people will be regular.
Second, Cal has now won four of its last five games, moving three games out of first place in the conference standings and two games out of second place in the Pac-12 wide open behind 8th-ranked Arizona. .
But as much as anything, for a Bears team that has been on the wrong end of so many close, competitive games this season, they showed they can close one out and recover from it. after a rough second half.
“This is a big home court advantage to be here in the Haas Pavilion. I call it the ‘Haas of Pain’ because with a crowd like that it’s a hostile environment,” said Madsen. “I’m very grateful for everyone who came out to support Cal. … The crowd definitely helped us get over the line tonight, and that’s great to see.”
Jaylon Tyson led the way with a game-high 27 points, making 10 of 15 shots (4 of 5 from 3-point range) and adding 11 rebounds in the lead says he is one of the best players in the conference.
Jalen Cone had one of his best games as a Bear, pouring in 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting (5 of 7 on 3s). Fardaws paced Aimaq in 15 points and 20 rebounds despite struggling with his shooting (7 of 25) and Celestine added 11 points and 8 boards.
“Jaylon Tyson is gone. I mean, he’s gone,” Madsen said. “He’s an explosive scorer. His defense has been outstanding. Jalen Cone and Jalen Celestine, they made hard 3s. Keonte [Kennedy’s] two big free throws, put the lead from 1 to 3, that was a big key. And Fardaws, just cleaning up the glass. … He has a gift for rebounding that he works on, he has respected it and he is one of the best in the world. Fardaws Aimaq is one of the best rebounders in the world.”
At the same time, Madsen was not alone in recognizing the fans and their influence on the outcome.
“The fans were amazing. I honestly believe if it wasn’t for them in that critical moment, we wouldn’t have won that game. They gave us energy for the whole game,” Cone said. .
Tyson said: “I think the fans won this game for us today. They were a big part of it. Because I remember it got so loud there when [Isaiah] Collier missed that free throw. That helped us get into extra time – little things like that are vital for us to win.”
That’s a good place to start…
After a very impressive first half with fluid ball movement creating consistently good looks on the offensive end and a lead that ballooned to 47-31 in the opening minutes of the second half, Cal shot just 33.3 percent from the field in the second half while USC. (9-14, 3-9) strengthened his defense.
Cone’s 3-pointer from the left corner put Cal up 67-62 with just under 2 minutes to play, but he could not stop the momentum that had gone in favor of the Trojans.
Boogie Ellis drove into the paint and turned in a bucket for USC, and Celestine then slipped trying to get the pass in which resulted in a travel call and a turnover. The Trojans capitalized on a DJ Rodman layup to cut the Bears’ lead to 67-66.
After Tyson and Aimaq missed shots for Cal, Collier went to the basket on a fast break for USC and was fouled with 27.7 seconds left. He made the first free throw to tie the game but missed the second as the crowd felt his presence.
Tyson’s long 3-point attempt missed on the other end, sending it to overtime.
Tyson threw down a thunderous block on Kennedy’s missed 3-pointer to give Cal a 70-69 lead with 3:32 to play, Collier got to the line for two free throws to put USC ahead and two possession later Tyson drove to the basket and was fouled, making both shots to put the Bears back up 72-71 with 2:16 to go.
Collier hit one of two free throws again and then Celestine delivered the first of those two aforementioned daggers, draining a long 3 from the right wing late in the shot clock for a 75-72 lead with 1: 31 left.
After a Kobe Johnson layup for USC, Cone then sank another corner 3 to make it 78-74.
Rodman answered back with a 3 for USC, which then sent Kennedy to the foul line with 32.9 seconds on the clock and calmly drained two ends of the one-and-one for an 80-77 lead.
Collier lost a layup on the other end as Aimaq got just enough of the ball to foul him, and the Bears closed out the win at the line with Celestine making 3 of 4 free throws.
“We’ve still got to keep going. We’ve got another big one at UCLA on Saturday,” Tyson said. “They’ve been playing really well since the last time we played them. The Pac-12 is up and down. I think we can go win it. That’s my honest opinion … So we have to keep moving, keep going. Because honestly, we shouldn’t be 6-6. Because of games like this, we didn’t know how to close them and we’re finally learning how to close we games.”
Postgame press conference videos