Top 50 Cal Sports Moments -- No. 21: Gray’s Anatomy, 1997

Senior guard Ed Gray played just 25 minutes before breaking his foot at Washington State, but he still set a Cal single-game scoring record
Ed Gray rises for a shot
Ed Gray rises for a shot / Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics

As the Pac-12 Conference era comes to a close after more than a century, we count down the Top 50 moments involving Cal athletics.

THE MOMENT: With 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the second half at Washington State, Cal senior guard Ed Gray was fouled going to the basket, got off the floor, walked to the foul line and sank two free throws to set a program record with 48 points. He then took a seat on the bench for the rest of the  . . . season. With a broken foot.

THE STORY: The Cal basketball team boasted three elite scorers during the 1990s: Lamond Murray, who paired with Jason Kidd to power the Bears to the 1993 Sweet 16, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who led the Pac-10 in scoring as a freshman in 1996, and Ed Gray.

A junior college recruit and Abdur-Rahim’s teammate the year before, Gray was a senior in 1996-97 for coach Ben Braun’s debut season. Gray set a still-standing program record by averaging 24.8 points — second-highest mark in the country — but he wasn’t around for the Bears’ unexpected run to the Sweet 16.

The 25th-ranked Bears were 10-4 in the conference and fresh off a win at Washington when they arrived in Pullman to face Washington State on Feb. 22. The Cougars gave Cal all it could handle but Gray was spectacular.

He missed time with foul trouble in the first half and had just nine points by intermission. He scored 38 more in the second half — 27 of them in a had-to-see-it-to-believe-it span of 6:44.

“The guy’s a time bomb,” WSU’s Blake Pengelly said.

“I thought the team stood around and watched,” Cal guard Anwar McQueen said. “Today, that was a good thing.”

Fouled with 1:14 left, Gray came down hard, breaking his right foot. His season was over, save for the two free throws he made to tie the score, giving him 48 points in just 25 minutes.

Gray didn’t even know he’d broken John Coughran’s 1972 school record until leaving the hospital 90 minutes after the game ended. “When you have a game like that,” he said, “you don’t really know what you’ve done.”

WSU won 89-87, and Cal lost to Stanford in its subsequent outing. But the Bears beat Arizona State and Arizona to end the regular season, then knocked off Princeton and Villanova in the NCAA tournament before losing to a North Carolina team powered by Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison, top-5 NBA draft picks a year later.

* Top 50 Moment No. 22: Granger's Record

* Top 50 Moment No. 23:  Pappy's Promise

Only specific acts that occurred while the team or athlete was at Cal were considered for the Top 50 list, and accomplishments spanning a season or a career were not included. 

Leslie Mitchell of the Cal Bears History Twitter site aided in the selection of the top 50 moments.

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


Published |Modified
Jeff Faraudo

JEFF FARAUDO

Jeff Faraudo was a sports writer for Bay Area daily newspapers since he was 17 years old, and was the Oakland Tribune's Cal beat writer for 24 years. He covered eight Final Fours, four NBA Finals and four Summer Olympics.