Williams' Career Night Thwarts Cal's Valiant Effort
Date Added Friday, January 7, 2011 | 4:38 am
Last Updated Friday, January 7, 2011 | 4:47 am
Category: Sports > Winter > Basketball (Men's)
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Down 15-5 in the early stages of the game at a rowdy opposing stadium without its second-leading scorer from the last game, the Cal men's basketball team could have easily folded to a team that some predicted would win the conference.
Instead, the Bears demonstrated their undying commitment, even if they came up just short.
Cal played one of its best games of the season, but could not overcome Arizona's sophomore sensation Derrick Williams, who led all scorers with a career-high 31 points and game-high 12 rebounds in the Wildcats' 73-71 victory over the Bears on Thursday at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.
"If they'll commit like that, I'll take the results," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "They committed to this game and they committed to each other. They went out there and played really hard. I can't really find anything at fault."
Williams did significant damage in the paint, but his ability to continually get back to the free throw line aided the Wildcats down the stretch. The La Mirada, Calif., native broke his own school record by attempting 22 foul shots and sank 16 of them.
"We can't defend the foul line," Montgomery said. "Williams had 22 foul shots. (Markhuri Sanders-Frison) had zero. Zero? That's hard. That's tough. They hurt and they feel bad, but that tells me they're committed."
The Bears overcame a slow start to take a 1-point lead at halftime. Aided by an 8-0 run to start the second half, Cal led the majority of the final 20 minutes until Lamont "Momo" Jones hit two go-ahead free throws with 3:39 remaining that put Arizona up 63-62.
Arizona looked like it clinched the game with 1:03 remaining after Kyle Fogg's 3-pointer from the corner put the 'Cats up 70-64, but Harper Kamp converted a 3-point play 15 seconds later. After Brandon Smith intercepted a Kevin Parrom pass on the other end, Parrom fouled Allen Crabbe outside the perimeter for three free throws and a chance to tie the game, but Crabbe missed the second of the three attempts.
Crabbe played one of his finest games of the year, leading all Cal players with 17 points and seven rebounds. The critical missed free throw was one blemish on a fine night for the freshman; Crabbe drilled four of five 3-point attempts and held his own on the glass along with Kamp and Sanders-Frison against a formidable Arizona frontcourt.
Both Kamp and Sanders-Frison admitted that they were happy with how they played, but that they should have won the game.
"We know that we can beat anyone on the Pac-10 on any given night," Kamp said. "It just takes a certain amount of effort and we need to execute and do the little things right."
Sanders-Frison said that it was the hardest loss that the team has endured this season.
"Definitely the hardest," Sanders Frison said. "We played hard from the jump and got down. We showed our will to get back in the lead and just came up short in the end."
The hard-fought effort was an encouraging sign after the startling news of guard Gary Franklin's departure from the team earlier this week. The freshman guard, who had attempted the most shots on the team entering Thursday's game, blindsided the team after announcing his intentions to transfer on Tuesday.
"It's definitely upsetting," Kamp said. "Looking at the way the guys reacted and the way they were talking, we reacted with the kind of effort I expected tonight."
Though not offering much on offense, Cal received nice defensive contributions from both Nigel Carter and Emerson Murray, the two players that should see extended minutes with Franklin's departure.
Cal finishes the road trip on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., against Arizona State. The game tips off at 11:30 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Gabriel Baumgaertner covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]
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