‘Lamp-O-Meter' Reaches Record Heights
Monday, February 26, 2001
It was a move that Sean Lampley had made a zillion times in his four years at Cal.
Receiving the ball on the right block, the senior forward spun around his defender and banked a quick shot from the edge of the lane.
But this basket was far from ordinary. With 10:03 left in the game and the noise-level at Haas Pavilion approaching unbearable, Lampley's bucket pushed his career-point total to 1,689-one more than Lamond Murray's 1,688-and gave Lampley the prestigious honor of being Cal's all-time leading scorer.
"The crowd took us over the hump," junior guard Dennis Gates said. "The crowd unleashed everybody and gave us a sense of security after the load roar."
Following the victory, Lampley acknowledged the fans' support and almost got lost in a sea of yellow and blue as he high-fived Cal's student section.
Bears coach Ben Braun also gave something back to the evening's hero, handing Lampley the game ball at half-court with the instruction to "Enjoy this."
In reality, Cal was celebrating more than Lampley's record and even the night's victory. With the Bears now sitting at 19-7 overall and 10-4 in the Pac-10, the team is practically a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Cal also looks to have a hold on fourth place in the conference.
And don't think that Cal isn't anticipating putting on its dancing shoes.
"My main focus is to get some wins and maybe get to the Tournament," Lampley said.
The Bears shouldn't have a problem earning a bid to this year's Tourney if they play like they did against WSU (11-14, 4-11). Although it took a little patience to put the game in the bag, Cal finished the contest shooting 54.4 percent and committed a season-low five turnovers.
While Lampley led his team with a game-high 29 points, his supporting cast did an admirable job as well. Solomon Hughes finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds and a steal and Brian Wethers and Joe Shipp each scored six points.
"I don't think we could have been playing better offensively but we couldn't get anywhere with the lead," Braun said. "That's a credit to Washington State playing so tough. They really did a good job matching our shots."
Up until midway through the second period, the Bears had a difficult time shaking the Cougars. Both teams ended the first half shooting 61.5 percent and WSU kept pace with Cal thanks to the offensive efforts of Jerry McNair and David Adams. Both players were on fire from behind the arc and combined for their teams' seven three-pointers heading into the break.
But Braun made sure things changed after intermission. The Bears tightened up defensively, putting pressure on the ball, taking charges and being more aggressive.
The payoff was holding the Cougars to 30.4 percent shooting and forcing WSU into eight turnovers. McNair (15 points) and Adams (12 points) only combined for two points in the second half after totaling 25 in the first. Milton Riley led the Cougars with a career-high 21 points.
"I thought we did a good job turning the tide defensively in the second half," Braun said. "I really believe our team was stepping it up in the second half."
WSU's second-half collapse resulted from its lack of depth-the team's leading scorer Mike Bush (16.7 points per game) was on the bench with an ankle injury-and the lack of an able defender for Lampley.
"Sean Lampley is a hell of a basketball player," Cougars coach Paul Graham said. "We didn't have anyone who could guard him. He's taller than Framecio (Little), he's more athletic than J (Locklier) and stronger than Milton."
After performances like Saturday night's, Lampley continues to make a strong push for Pac-10 Player of the Year, but he and the Bears have a difficult task ahead of them on this weekend's road swing to Los Angeles.
"The challenge we have this weekend is immense," Braun said. "All games are especially important now."
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