Cal Basketball: Paris Austin's Big Game Lifts Bears to Long-Awaited Road Victory
Cal secured its first road win of the season with a wire-to-wire 66-57 victory at Washington State on Wednesday night.
Senior Paris Austin came through with a huge game for the Bears, scoring 19 points (including 12-for-12 at the free throw line), grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing 3 assists. He played long stretches of strong defense against a much taller C.J. Elleby and he made every big offensive play in the final 2 minutes.
Cal (11-15, 5-8 Pac-12) won its first game away from Berkeley this season after going 0-7 in true road games and 0-10 overall outside Haas Pavilion. The Bears prevailed in a Pac-12 road game for the first time since last season at Stanford and won their first road game outside the Bay Area since beating Arizona State in Tempe on Feb. 8, 2017.
“It feels great," said sophomore Andre Kelly, who scored 16 points. "We’ve been trying to get this one for a while now, so it feels good to get the monkey off our back.”
The Bears also completed a season sweep of WSU.
Kelly scored his 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds, and is averaging 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds over the past six games. Matt Bradley, despite a 2-for-9 shooting night, contributed 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. He was 6-for-6 at the foul line as the Bears converted their first 15 and finished 21-for-24.
“I think we did a really good job of playing as a team. A lot of guys contributed in a lot of different ways," Kelly said.
Cal led by 17 in each half and withstood repeated comeback tries by the Cougars (14-13, 5-9), who now slip a half-game back of the Bears into 11th place in the Pac-12.
Austin, who has scored double digit in six of his past eight games, made every big play down the stretch:
-- Austin's pass to Andre Kelly set up a layup that gave Cal a 60-52 lead with 1:57 left after the Cougars had slashed a 17-point deficit to six points.
-- Then, after Kareem South grabbed an offensive rebound, Austin drew a foul and made two throws for a 62-54 lead with 1:04 left.
-- He made 2 more free throws with 35 seconds left, then 2 more with 22.5 seconds left for a 66-57 lead.
Elleby, who entered the game third in the Pac-12 at 18.7 points per game, wound up with 13 points and 10 rebounds. But the sophomore guard shot 4-for-18, including 1-for-6 on 3-point tries.
The Bears had lost their previous four games, but Kelly said the team continues to try building something, “We keep playing hard, keep buying in. Win or lose, we building a lot of confidence as a team," he said.
Cal utilized its patient offensive tempo and delivered one of its best defensive efforts of the season, limiting the Cougars to 29.8 percent shooting, including 5-for-23 on threes.
The Bears return to action Saturday afternoon at Washington.
“We’re just going to enjoy the victory tonight," Kelly said, "then get ready for Washington and get ready to compete again.”
PRE-GAME: If you have been a Cal basketball fan for a while now — I’m talking nearly 30 years — you might remember a player by the name of Elleby.
It’s Bill Elleby, and he is the father of Washington State star sophomore C.J. Elleby, who is the third-leading scorer in the Pac-12 at 18.7 points per game and had 22 points against the Bears last month.
Cal and WSU face off again tonight at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman.
Dad Bill play for Cal, and was a senior starter on the 1991-92 team that preceded by one year Jason Kidd’s arrival on campus.
The Bears weren’t very good that season, finishing 10-18 overall, 4-14 in the Pac-10. Their best player, center/forward Brian Hendrick, averaged 16.1 points and 10.7 rebounds while missing nine conference games due to injury.
But the Bears had two freshmen forwards with great promise in Lamond Murray and Al Grigsby. Murray averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, with seven games of 20 points or more, including five of the final eight games. Grigsby provided 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds and scored double digits 16 times.
Meanwhile, Elleby had his finest season for the Bears as a senior. A former Washington state player of the year at Garfield High in Seattle, he started 25 games, averaged 11.9 points and was the team’s most efficient 3-point shooter at 46.4 percent (64-for-138) and best free throw shooter at 80.3 percent (53-for-66).
The 6-foot-3 guard scored 20 points or more four times, including a career-high 23 against Washington State, and 20 in his college finale vs. Oregon. He finished his Cal career with 931 points and 41-percent accuracy from beyond the 3-point arc.
In fact, Elleby scored double digits four times in six games his final three seasons against his future son’s school. The Bears could use him tonight.
Check back for in-game updates. Tipoff is 7 p.m.
Cal starting lineup: Coach Mark Fox will go with the same lineup he used Sunday against Arizona State, with G Paris Austin, G Matt Bradley, G Joel Brown, F Grant Anticevich and F/C Andre Kelly.
Washington State lineup: G Jervae Robinson, G C.J. Elleby, G Marvin Cannon, G Noah Williams and F Jeff Pollard. Second-leading scorer Isaac Bonton, who has a hip injury, is in street clothes.
14:28 1st H: Matt Bradley hasn't scored yet, but the Bears are 4-for-8 and have a nice early lead. Paris Austin drilled a rare 3-pointer and Grant Anticevich followed with one of his own. WSU missed its first four shots and is 2-for-7. Nether team has a turnover. Cal 10, WSU 4.
10:57 1st H: Cal playing like a team that expects to win this game. The Bears are playing stout defense, and WSU is shooting 3-for-13. C.J. Elleby missed his first four shots, then hit a 3-pointer, ending a 2-for-32 drought from beyond the arc by the Cougars. Six different players have scored for Cal, which still does not have a turnover. Cal 17, WSU 7.
7:07 1st H: We've got a long way to go in this one, but so far the Bears are assembling perhaps their best all-around (offense/defense) performance of the season. Cal is shooting 56 percent, with production in the post and a 4-for-8 effort from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Bears have held WSU to 5-for-18 shooting, including 1-for-8 from deep. Cal has just one turnover, a shaky charge call against Andre Kelly after a flop by the Coug defender. Anticevich and Kelly each have eight points. Elleby, WSU's top scorer, is shooting 1-for-7. Cal 26, WSU 11.
3:19 1st H: The Bears' lead was 17 points a moment ago and the Bears are still shooting 52 percent. The Pac-12's most offensively challenged team is running its offense quite effectively. The best evidence? Cal has eight assists already. The Bears have played several games this season without that many for entire game. WSU shooting 29 percent and continues to hoist up 3's without any success - 1-for-9 right now. Cal 30, WSU 15.
HALFTIME: Cal 32, WSU 20. Mark Fox should be very happy . . . with the first 15 minutes of that period. The Bears led by as many as 17 points twice and were up 30-13 after Paris Austin scored on a nice floater with 5:14 left. But the Bears then went six straight possessions without a point, their worst stretch in an otherwise excellent half offensively. Austin had 3 turnovers during that dryspell. WSU outscored the Bears 7-2 over the final 4 minutes to close the margin a bit. Still, it was a strong effort by the Bears, who shot 50 percent, won the rebounding duel 19-16 and held the Cougars to 27 percent from the field. WSU, which entered the game having made just 2 of its previous 29 shots from the 3-point arc, continues to fire away from deep, and it isn't working. The Cougs are 1-for-11 on threes. Each team's best offensive player struggled to score: Bradley was 1-for-6, finally connecting with 51 seconds left. But he finished the half with 4 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Elleby was 1-for-9 from the field for 3 points to go with 6 rebounds. Anticevich and Kelly each scored 8 points to lead the Bears.
17:20 2nd H: Not the way the Bears wanted to start the second half. WSU posted up the 6-foot-6 Elleby on Paris Austin and he scored easily to get things started. Then Elleby stole the ball from Bradley and raced for a dunk, slashing the margin to 8 points . Kelly answered with a basket for Cal, but Jervae Robinson countered with a 3-pointer for WSU, which has climbed within seven points. Cal, which had no turnovers no the first 11 minutes of the game, now has seven. Cal 34, WSU 27.
11:44 2nd H: The Bears apparently have righted the ship. Since WSU got within 36-29, Cal has outscored the Cougars 11-2 and Lars Thiemann is going to the FT line for an and-one after the timeout. WSU has made just 1 of its past 13 FG tries and has missed nine in a row. Defense is paying dividends for the Bears. Cal 47, WSU 31.
7:16 2nd H: Cal's lead was 48-31 after Thiemann hit a free throw to complete his three-point play, but the Cougars have stormed back. Again. In each half now, WSU has cut a 17-point Cal lead virtually in half. After the Cougars made just 2 of their first 18 shots from the 3-point arc, Jervae Robinson hit a pair in a span of 85 seconds and things have tightened up. Cal's Anticevich went to the bench at 10:46 with his fourth foul. Cal 50, WSU 41.
4:40 2nd H: Cal doing good work at the foul line - 13-for-13, including 6-for-6 by Bradley and 4-for-4 by Austin. Kelly leads the Bears with 14 points. Cal 56, WSU 45.
2:34 2nd H: After Cal made 15 in a row from the FT line to start the game, Anticevich missed a pair and WSU is within seven points after a 3-pointer by Tony Miller made it a 7-0 run for the Cougars. Cal 58, WSU 52.