Matt Bradley delivered an 20-point performance but lost the ball as he was driving toward a potential game-tying basket with three seconds left and Cal fell 59-57 to Oregon State on Thursday night.
Cal pulled within 59-55 when Bradley converted two free throws with 2:16 left. He then drew a charge on OSU’s Ethan Thompson, leading to a pair of free throws by Andre Kelly that made it 59-57 with 1:34 left.
Joel Brown turned the ball over with 35 seconds left when coach Mark Fox said he was supposed to get it to Bradley. Cal got it back after a Beavers turnover with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Racing up court, Bradley drove into traffic as he reached the lane and the ball squirted loose.
Long forgotten by then was Cal's early 12-point lead, built on 7-for-7 shooting to open the game.
Fox talks in the video above about how the two final possessions were costly but overshadowed other issues in the second half. Alluding to Oregon State's 9-0 burst out of halftime, he said, "We had a very poor start to the second half."
"What will get magnified are the poor plays at the end," Fox added. "It's the defensive possessions in the second half that were the difference in the game. We did not defend to the level that you need to to win."
The Beavers (12-11, 8-9 Pac-12) completed their first three-game season sweep of Cal (8-18, 3-16) since 1989. It was just the second road win in seven games for OSU.
The Bears face Oregon on Saturday afternoon in their regular-season finale. Unless they can beat the Ducks, they are virtually assured of a third 20-loss season in the past four years.
Bradley scored 14 second-half points but Cal’s other players made just 1 of their first 14 shots after the break.
While OSU shot 0-for-10 on 3-pointers the Beavers scored 38 points in the paint, led by 7-foot-1 senior Roman Silva, who had a career-high 15 points. Thompson added 12 points. Subtract the Beavers' misses from beyond the arc and they shot 63 percent on everything else.
Fox talks in the video below about the Bears’ emphasis on perimeter defense but their inability to guard man-to-man near the basket.
Kelly scored 15 points, 11 of them in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 at the foul line. But he shouldered some of the blame for the Bears’ second-half defensive slippage.
In this video he talks about that and the Bears’ inability to make winning plans at the end of close games this season.
The Bears shot 28 percent in the second half, and everyone other than Bradley combined to make just 2 of 19 attempts.
The Beavers ran off nine straight points to open the second half, turning a three-point deficit into a 37-33 lead. Cal drew even after consecutive baskets by Bradley but the Bears never led again.
Cal led by as many as 12 points early in the game but settled for a 33-28 halftime edge.
The Bears made their first seven shots and were up 26-16 with 6:40 left in the half. Earlier, they had leads of 14-2, 16-4 and 18-6.
Cover photo of Grant Anticevich by D. Ross Cameron, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo