Cal men's basketball wins thriller over San Francisco

Makale Foreman's buzzer beater gives the Bears a 72-70 victory

What can you say about a game like this, in a year like this?  Heading into the final play on Sunday afternoon in Berkeley, the Cal men’s basketball team never held a lead over the San Francisco Dons.  That is, until Grant Anticevich found Makale Foreman well behind the three-point line for the game-winning shot released with less than a second on the clock.  It was the sort of clutch marksmanship that would have brought Haas Pavilion to its feet in any other year, and quite possibly been followed by a court storming.  Instead, Foreman was mobbed by his teammates in a corner of the arena and the Bears were all smiles as they celebrated a 72-70 victory.

My immediate reaction to the wild ending was that one good shot deserved another.  San Francisco’s Jamaree Bouyea had a splendid game and finished with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting.  His signature play was a long heave beyond half court at the end of the first half that swished in to give the visitors an eight-point advantage.  That alone could have decided the game before a previously scoreless Foreman, who had missed all six of his field-goal attempts, provided the decisive hoop.  As a result, the Bears improved to 3-4 and broke a three-game skid while the Dons are now 5-3 on the season.

Cal trailed 21-9 in the early going and a demoralizing blowout to a nonconference team, from the Bay Area no less, seemed possible.  The Bears stayed in the game thanks in part to some strong offensive play by Grant Anticevich.  Five of his seven made field goals came in the first half, including a pretty fadeaway and a three-pointer off a solid pass from Ryan Betley, who dished out four assists.  Anticevich’s 18 points ranked second on the team.

Mark Fox kept a very short bench, as Kuany Kuany played only a minute and Monty Bowser was on the court for eight.  DJ Thorpe and Lars Thiemann didn’t get onto the floor at all.  Joel Brown played 31 minutes, ending with five points and four rebounds. Andre Kelly excelled in reserve and scored 22 points, including an 8-for-13 mark at the line.  He was 7-for-10 from the floor while pulling down seven rebounds.  Kelly even added a block and a steal to his line. 

Kelly’s production was critical down the stretch, but it also helped that Matt Bradley shook off a tough first half.  Near the end of the half, Kelly and Anticevich had combined to shoot 10-for-14 overall while the rest of the squad was a woeful 1-for-14. Not only was Bradley 1-for-7 from the field in the first stanza, he appeared to injure himself after landing on Khalil Shabazz following a missed jumper.  His final numbers look a lot better: 7-for-14 shooting, 17 points, and seven boards.  Bradley also nailed a pair of threes in his 29 minutes.

It appeared that the tandem of Bouyea and Shabazz might be enough to will San Francisco to a win.  Shabazz was 6-for-12 from the field but got hot from long range, making four of his five attempts from downtown and scoring 21 points.  Unfortunately for head coach Todd Golden and the Dons, he missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left prior to Foreman’s heroics. Julian Rishwain was the only other visiting player in double figures, ending with 11 points and six rebounds. 

Despite the inspirational ending, there were plenty of head-shaking moments along the way. For instance, Matt Bradley was whistled for fouling Rishwain with about 11 minutes left in regulation. Not only did Rishwain make all three of his free throws, the questionable call forced Bradley from the game with his fourth personal foul. Bouyea also tried to crush the hopes of Cal fans when he scored seven points in the span of just over a minutes early in the second half.

Betley made only one of his six attempts from the field. He helped make up for that with his passing and four made free throws brought his point total to seven. The Bears largely didn’t beat themselves, committing only seven turnovers while forcing 11. Cal shot 58 percent in the second half, which laid the groundwork for the late heroics.

Games aren’t played on paper. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Bears had a 7.6% win probability with about four minutes left on the clock. The figure rose to just 16.7% before the final seconds played out. That didn’t stop Foreman from delivering when it mattered most, even if he had to travel all the way from Stony Brook, NY to write the latest chapter in his college career.