Admit it. After Malcolm Lee hit that 3, you thought “here we go again.” UCLA was going to win yet another fluke game over the Golden Bears. Despite them being outplayed all night, despite Cal playing with 4 and a half healthy players, and despite the fact Cal was ahead almost all game UCLA would still win. It was not so.
Jorge Gutierrez played the game of his life. Last year, I was happy believing Gutierrez would just stay a defensive stopper who might be able to score 10-12 points per game. After scoring 34 points, and single handedly carrying the Bears in the second half and overtime- it’s safe to say that I was wrong. This kid is a complete player.
Cal was the better team almost all night. UCLA was turning it over like crazy and not playing very good defense. At least in the first, the Bruins were trying to shoot too many 3’s and not attacking the basket. Cal would take a 29-18 lead into the second half. UCLA would inevitably charge hard, as a Brendan Lane 3 pointer tied the game at 46 with 8:04 left in the game. UCLA would lead briefly, including a 57-56 edge with a little over a minute left. After both teams missed, Gutierrez got fouled. He hit the two free throws. Reeves Nelson turns it over. Gutierrez hit two free throws. Down 3, UCLA is desperate with 3 seconds to play…and Malcolm Lee hits a miracle 3 pointer. In OT, Brandon Smith hits a huge 3 with 15 seconds left and Cal only up 1- that was really the dagger for the Bruins. Cal wins it 76-72, in 5 minutes longer then it should have.
Cal surprised me with a man to man most of the night, and it flustered UCLA too. They turned it over 18 times, to just 10 assists. They couldn’t hit a 3 in the first half; improved shooting, especially from Honeycutt, was the difference in the second.
Gutierrez is the story. Only one other Bear got into double figures. He played great defense, 3 steals. 6 assists, including the one to Smith to clinch it in the overtime. I’ve already talked about him, but still this might be among the greatest performances by a Bear in recent memory. Go Jorge.
This is a big win. It has no impact on NCAA Tournament seeding, except for on UCLA’s. It doesn’t really change much in the Pac-10 standings. But ending the losing streak over a rival in the manner in which the team did it…incredibly done guys. Go Bears!