Second-Half Surge Sparks Sweep of Ducks

Photo: Markhuri Sanders-Frison finished with six points and six boards during Cal's road win over Oregon. The Portland native played in front of friends and family on Thursday.
Anne Marie Schuler/Senior Staff
Markhuri Sanders-Frison finished with six points and six boards during Cal's road win over Oregon. The Portland native played in front of friends and family on Thursday.

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Earlier in the season, Brandon Smith found and sifted through his own scouting report.

An opposing squad had written: "looks to be aggressive, must keep him out of the lane and stop penetration."

Teams should probably put a hand up near the 3-point line, as well.

A reluctant shooter in his limited playing time last year, Smith has grown more and more dangerous as a perimeter threat in his sophomore season. His success reached new heights in Cal's 81-71 come-from-behind victory over Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena - the team's seventh straight over the Ducks.

One game removed from drilling the game-clinching three-pointer against UCLA, the sophomore from San Ramon, Calif. native turned in a near-flawless shooting performance for the Bears (15-13, 8-8 in the Pac-10), who overcame a 16-point first half deficit in Eugene, Ore.

Allen Crabbe added four from downtown and 19 points total, while Jorge Gutierrez poured in 16 of his game-high 23 after intermission. But it was Smith who hit the biggest shot of the night. His uncontested 3-pointer with 4:07 remaining gave Cal a 68-65 lead and put the team ahead for good.

Smith was 5-for-6 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Playing all 40 minutes for Mike Montgomery, he finished with a career-high 18 points, along with six rebounds and three steals.

The De La Salle High School product also connected three times from beyond the arc in the opening frame, helping the Bears stay alive in a game that the Ducks (14-13, 7-8) dominated inside to start.

Dana Altman's burly frontcourt of Tyrone Nared and Joevan Catron helped spark Oregon out of the gates. The two forwards are formidable at 6-foot-8, 210 pounds and 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, respectively, and they certainly loomed large in the opening frame.

The duo combined for 22 points and five rebounds in the opening half. E.J. Singler finished with 11 and Garrett Sim chipped in 12 for the Ducks, who used 11 points off of nine Cal turnovers to race out to a 40-24 advantage.

After pulling to within 45-34 at the break, Cal came out and stepped up its zone to hinder Oregon's attack. The Ducks outscored the Bears in the paint, 16-8, in the first half, but Nared and Catron mustered just eight combined points in the second 20 minutes.

"Not what I envisioned,'' Altman said of his team's performance out of intermission. "Not what I had hoped for.'

"You saw what happened when we weren't energized in the second half. Cal just took it from us."

The Bears were particularly effective in defending Catron, preventing entry passes and crowding him with as many as four players when he received the ball. The Phoenix, Ill. native attempted only one field goal in the second half, and Oregon tried unsuccessfully to make up for his absence from the perimeter.

While the Ducks went 10-for-24 from the field in the second half - including just 2-for-11 on 3-pointers - Cal's offense found new life. Trailing, 54-50, at the 13:04 mark, the Bears put together a 13-5 run over the next 6:43.

Cal would shoot a sizzling 62.5-percent in the second half, and connected on 10 of their 20 long-distance attempts on the evening.

"I think we got a little too comfortable tonight,'' Nared said.


Ed Yevelev covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]

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