Bears Pound Beavers in 28-Point Blowout

Photo: Harper Kamp (left) shot 7-of-9 for 18 points, his ninth straight in double digits. He chipped in two rebounds.
Victoria Chow/Staff
Harper Kamp (left) shot 7-of-9 for 18 points, his ninth straight in double digits. He chipped in two rebounds.

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All week long, the Cal men's basketball team faced questions about whether it would be able to contain Oregon State's trademark 1-3-1 zone defense, an approach that bothered them twice last season.

After being stifled by the Bears' zone the entire night, maybe Oregon State could take notes to add to its defensive strategy.

Cal easily resisted the Beavers' zones, even forcing them to play man defense in the second half, and swarmed the opposition with its own zone on the way to an easy 85-57 rout on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion.

"We're playing pretty confident right now," guard Jorge Gutierrez said. "We are practicing hard. When it comes to game day, we get in the mindset to do whatever it takes to win."

After playing mainly man defense in the early parts of the season, the Bears have played three consecutive games with heavy doses of zone, a strategy that the players are embracing.

"We don't get as tired as before so that's a plus," Gutierrez said. "We were very comfortable in it. Teams are not shooting as well as they were shooting before."

Gutierrez played one of his finest games of the season, scoring 16 points and dishing out a career-high 11 assists, and Allen Crabbe turned in one of his most active performances of the year on both sides of the ball. The freshman scored 12 points, pulled down seven rebounds and gathered two steals.

Harper Kamp, who led the Bears with 18 points, was one of four different Cal players in double figures.

Oregon State found itself struggling to break Cal's 2-3 zone in the early going and couldn't figure it out the entire night. Trying to stretch the Bears out with outside shooting, the Beavers shot a paltry 3-17 from the perimeter and struggled finding anything near the hoop.

"This was the first time that I saw us play, in three years I've been here that it looked like we just gave up," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "My team should never come out and lay an egg like the way we did."

Cal coach Mike Montgomery opted for the zone because he felt thought it would help Cal on the offensive end, a strategy that worked perfectly.

"Our week of preparation was good for what they wanted to do," Montgomery said. "I don't think their 1-3-1 zone is what it has been in the past. In order for them to be effective offensively they need to go small and when they go small their zone is not as good because it is easier to pass through it."

The Bears didn't struggle with Oregon State's variety of zones as it had last season when former Pac-10 Player of the Year Jerome Randle was commandeering the backcourt. With good early ball movement, the Bears led the entire night after taking a 4-2 lead 17:16 remaining.

"I think Jorge and Brandon and Allen did a great job moving the ball and penetrating the seams like coach always emphasizes," Kamp said. "We were able to do it effectively tonight. We did a really good job tonight, especially the guards."

Both the players and Montgomery admitted that the blowout victory was good for the team's confidence, especially with three straight home games ahead. Cal received bench contributions from Bak Bak, Richard Solomon and Emerson Murray, but Montgomery emphasized the importance of consistency - especially when games are closer.

"You need these games. We didn't have many in the season and that helps," Montgomery said. "We have players that when it goes well for them they play better. You've got to get bloodied and adjust and play well."


Gabriel Baumgaertner covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]

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