BERKELEY - Though she'd already logged 49 minutes and 54 seconds of a physically and emotionally draining double-overtime thrill ride against UCLA, Cal women's basketball player Asha Thomas knew just how to react when she saw teammate MaAne Mosley track down the game's final rebound.
No matter how tired the Bears were, Thomas' emotional fist pump came not only as muscle memory, it also told the emotional story of one of the best games Cal fans have seen in a long, long time.
Playing a non-conference game against a quality Pac-12 foe, No. 21/20-ranked Cal came through when it mattered most, outlasting the No. 19-ranked Bruins at Haas to earn a heart-stopping 108-104 win on Monday. Courtney Range's jumper with 27 seconds left provided the eventual winning points, two free throws from Thomas increased the lead and Mosley sealed it with a free throw of her own.
Range led the way for the Bears (8-2) with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Kristine Anigwe scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 32 minutes while Mikayla Cowling played all 50 minutes and finished with 17 points. Penina Davidson scored a career high-tying 15 points off the bench and Thomas finished with 14 points and 11 assists while also playing 50 minutes.
"If that wasn't a commercial for the Pac-12, I don't know what is," said Cal's Lindsay Gottlieb, who participated in her first double overtime game as the Bears' head coach. "I've been here for eight years as an assistant and a head coach and that's the most exciting game I've ever been a part of. I think it was great for women's basketball. I hope people were tuning in."
- The California Golden Bears baseball program checks in at No. 13 in Collegiate Baseball newspaper's Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I pre-season poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum, the publication announced on Monday.
- Junior right-hander Daulton Jefferies of the No. 13 California Golden Bears has been named to the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America Second Team, the Collegiate Baseball newspaper announced on Tuesday.
National Football League
Former Cal football players Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Cleveland center Alex Mack were selected to the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl to be played Sunday, Jan. 31 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Rodgers' selection was his fifth, while Mack becomes the first Browns' center to earn three trips to the Pro Bowl.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - London Perrantes made a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in overtime Tuesday night and No. 5 Virginia survived California 63-62, spoiling the Golden Bears' upset bid.
Anthony Gill led Virginia (10-1) with 17 points, freshman Jarred Reuter had 11 and Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon each had 10. Cal held the Cavaliers to 21 of 54 shots (38.9 percent) after UVa entered the game shooting 51.5 percent for the season.
Despite an 18-15 finish in 2014-15 and Arizona's hegemonic rule over the league, California was a trendy Pac-12 title favorite in October. The addition of two highly touted future NBA draftees (Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb) to a lineup with at least three talented perimeter players (Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird) was enough to push the Bears, almost overnight, into the preseason top 15. The excitement was understandable. It was also slightly optimistic. By November's end -- after Cal suffered two straight losses to San Diego State and Richmond involving unimpressive metrics on both ends of the floor -- the bubble had been punctured. Cal fell out of the AP poll entirely, banished to the cold perceptual wildnerness.
Whatever they were doing there -- chopping stumps in the snow like Rocky, perhaps? -- it worked. And it worked just a few days after coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters he was still looking for Cal to emerge Tuesday night with an impressive sense of collective purpose and defensive execution.
Everything but the final score went well. After a mostly inefficient season marked by bad shot selection and missed free throws, Brown was an absolute beast, isolating in space, thrusting toward the rim to finish with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Rabb had 12 rebounds. Mathews and Wallace were solid. UVa's suddenly ugly offensive night wasn't totally random: The Bears, Rabb especially, executed perfectly on defense, cutting off Gill at seemingly every pick-and-roll pass, playing Brogdon brilliantly one-on-one, using their strength and length to make a tidy Cavaliers team look sloppy and confused.
Martin didn't leave Charlottesville with a win. He will be heartbroken. But he can wake up Wednesday with a new view of his own team -- a team that might well be every bit as good as everybody thought in October. A team still getting better, too.
Armed Forces Bowl
Jared Goff isn't the only Cal junior weighing whether to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Kenny Lawler, the other Bears player selected first-team All Pac-12 by the conference's coaches, has requested a draft grade of where he could be picked from the NFL draft's advisory board. Though he has yet to discuss his options with his family, Lawler has an idea of what it would take for him to forgo his final year of eligibility.
"It'd have to be the first couple rounds for me to not get my degree, since I'm so close," said Lawler, who is five classes shy of earning his degree in sociology. "If (the evaluation) said last couple (rounds), more than likely I'd have to come back. I wouldn't want to do that to myself or my family."
He expects to hear back from the NFL draft's advisory board within the next few days. Whether Goff declares early will have no bearing on his decision, Lawler said, because Cal's "Bear Raid" would allow the next quarterback to "put up numbers."
Lawler leads Cal in catches (47) and touchdowns (10). His 583 receiving yards â a regression from his team-leading 701 yards last season â are third on the roster, behind Bryce Treggs (813) and Trevor Davis (653).