Things Don't Roll Bears' Way in Overtime Loss to UCLA

Photo: <b>Jerome Randle</b> tied the game against UCLA with a three pointer, but couldn't help the Bears escape an overtime defeat to the Bruins.
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Jerome Randle tied the game against UCLA with a three pointer, but couldn't help the Bears escape an overtime defeat to the Bruins.

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Sometimes the bounces don't go your way. On Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion, that was literally the case for the Cal men's basketball team.

Clinging to a 75-74 lead following Bears forward Jamal Boykin's bank-shot with 21 seconds to play in overtime, the Bruins had one final chance to steal their first road win of the Pac-10 season.

With the seconds dwindling, UCLA point guard Jerime Anderson tried to feed forward Reeves Nelson, who was practically alone in the key. Boykin got an arm in front of Anderson's pass -- only to see the ball bounce around and fortuitously carom to Bruins senior guard Michael Roll at the top of the key.

Roll, who finished with 19 points, calmly collected the ball at the top of the key and drilled the game-winner with 1.8 seconds left, catapulting UCLA to a surprising 76-75 win.

"We got down to the end where we had to get a stop," Montgomery said. "And we got the stop and didn't come up with the loose ball. The ball was there, should've been ours. Roll grabs it opportunistically. And here we are."

Being in that losing position seemed somewhat unthinkable for the final 25 minutes of the game. Cal (9-5, 1-1 in the Pac-10) seemed comfortable in the first half, bringing a 34-26 point lead into halftime and running the cushion to 42-30 with 15:41 to play in the second frame.

But then Roll and fellow senior Nikola Dragovic, who added 18 points, exploited the Bears' perimeter defense and shot UCLA back into the game.

That pair teamed to make their side's first six three-point attempts in the second half, combining for 18 points in less than seven minutes to turn trim Cal's lead from 12 to one, 54-53, with 8:32 left and keep the Bruins' window of opportunity open.

Montgomery, for one, thought that window should have been closed far earlier.

"We should've been up a bunch at half," he said. "I thought we should have been up a bunch. Obviously we let them stick around. Then all of a sudden they made some threes and next thing you know, they're in the ball game. Any time you do that, you run the risk of getting beat."

Roll's game-winning jumper capped a wild finish that saw the lead jump back and forth, not to mention two changes in the final 21 seconds.

The last 8:32 of regulation was as close as it was wild. No team led by more than three points over that span.

With 1:07 remaining in the second half, Cal point guard Jerome Randle shrugged off his first seven misses from beyond the arc to nail a deep three-pointer to tie the game at 63-63.

In the final second of regulation, both sides had a chance to win. Nelson, who finished with 15 points, appeared to have an open lay-up for the win, only to see the ball stolen from Bears guard Patrick Christopher. Christopher then collected the ball -- slightly hesitating after bumping into Randle -- and raced up the court for a desperation three-pointer that went begging.

"I kind of ran into Jerome and I fumbled it a little bit," Christopher said. "I just wanted to get a shot up."

Christopher finished with 14 points to go with seven rebounds, Randle added 11 and reserve forward Omondi Amoke had 10 points, all in the paint. In all, 48 of the Bears' points came in the key.

Scoring outside of the paint was more of a struggle for Cal against UCLA's 2-3 zone defense. Making shots from the perimeter proved trying, as the Bears made only two of 18 attempts from long range.

The zone also slowed the Bears' pace down, as they were limited in penetration, evidenced by only four fast break points.

"We didn't have any energy," Montgomery said. "We have a very difficult time moving the ball against the zone. We've got to solve that somehow.

"All and all, it's going to be something that will really hurt us in terms of the way that we came out and approached this game in thought. It seemed pretty dead and we couldn't get the crowd going, and rightly so. There wasn't much to get excited about."


Contact Jack Ross at [email protected]

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