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Cal Basketball: Jordan Shepherd's Desperation 3-Pointer Helps Lift Bears Past Fresno State

Cal wins 65-57 in final tuneup before two-game detour for Pac-12 play.

Cal led most of the game against Fresno State on Sunday night but never could establish decisive separation.

Grad transfer guard Jordan Shepherd took care of that with a desperation 3-pointer — the only one he made all night.

Trapped by two defenders deep on the left wing — directly in front of the Cal bench — with the shot clock winding down, Shepherd wheeled and threw up a 27-foot heave that swished as the horn sounded.

“To be honest, can’t really explain it. Time was running down so had to get a shot up,” Shepherd said. “That was the best look and the most space I could create. Just got it up there, prayed for the best and it went down.”

The 3-pointer pushed the Bears into a 56-45 lead with 2:29 left and Cal went on to secure a 65-57 win over the Bulldogs at Haas Pavilion.

“Making that shot extended the lead a little bit,” senior Grant Anticevich said. “It’s what we needed to get our momentum going a little bit. It was a big shot.”

Shepherd, who missed his other four 3-point attempts, led the Bears (3-4) with 17 points and seven rebounds. He is playing with a wrap on the right thumb he sprained in the UNLV game on Nov. 13.

“It’s definitely bothered me a little bit. I’m playing through the pain — my team needs me,” said Shepherd, who is converting just 29 percent (8 for 28) from 3-point range. “They need me out there to play defense and make shots.”

Coach Mark Fox called it a “tough place to have an injury, on your thumb.”

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Andre Kelly scored 14 points for the Bears and Anticevich contributed 13.

The Bears now exit the non-conference portion of their schedule for a week, opening Pac-12 play Thursday at home vs. Oregon State, then play at Utah on Sunday.

Fox said he hopes the Bears will get back some injured players soon. Freshman guard Marsalis Roberson, who has yet to play this season because of an disclosed ailment, may be cleared to practice within a week of so, Fox said.

Likewise, sophomore forward Monty Bowser also had not yet practiced because of an ankle injury that typically requires three months of recovery. He’s probably still weeks away, Fox said.

Reserve guard Makale Foreman, one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, is playing but dealing with an injury to the ball of his foot.

“All those guys in the backcourt, that’s hard for us,” Fox said. “We’re kind of fighting uphill there.”

Fresno State (5-1) lost for the first time despite 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots by 7-foot junior Orlando Robinson. The Bulldogs were picked to finish sixth this season in the Mountain West Conference.

After Shepherd’s big shot, the Bears’ lead reached 58-45 when Kuany Kuany made a 3-pointer with 1:49 left. But Fresno scrambled to get back within seven points in the final minute, aided by a couple missed Cal free throws and a turnover.

Cover photo of Grant Anticevich by Jasen Vinlove, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo