Cal Drops 77-71 Decision to No. 24 Nevada in Pete Newell Challenge

Dec. 3, 2006

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Ramon Sessions scored eight straight points in the final minutes, and No. 24 Nevada got off to its best start since 1951 with a 77-71 victory over California in the second game of the Pete Newell Challenge on Sunday night.

Marcelus Kemp scored 20 points and Sessions finished with 19 - including 13 in the final 4 minutes - as the Wolf Pack improved to 7-0 for the first time in 55 years by surviving the Golden Bears' tremendous second-half rally, which erased a 14-point deficit.

Sessions, Nevada's steady point guard, hit three layups and four free throws in a 4 1/2-minute stretch to keep his club on top. Nick Fazekas added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Wolf Pack in the schools' first meeting since the 1991-92 season.

Ayinde Ubaka scored 16 points and DeVon Hardin had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears (6-2), whose five-game winning streak was snapped. After winning the Great Alaska Shootout and beating Kansas State last month, Cal put up another impressive effort against the powerful Wolf Pack, including a 20-6 run after falling behind 57-43 with 13 minutes to play.

But after Hardin tied it on a dunk with 4:23 left, Sessions made two layups to put Nevada up 69-65 while Cal went scoreless on five straight possessions.

Sessions then hit his free throws late, and Nevada delighted the thousands of rowdy fans who made the four-hour drive from Reno, Nev., to support the Wolf Pack, who are 25-5 on the road over the last two seasons.

Nevada won its eighth straight road contest and earned its 21st victory in 22 games overall, with the only loss coming in the NCAA tournament against Montana.

Fazekas, the WAC's two-time player of the year and the nation's leading rebounder this fall, had an entertaining battle down low with Hardin, Cal's talented junior center.

Nevada went up 40-25 at halftime with a 9-2 surge in the closing minutes, then took an 18-point lead on Kyle Shiloh's 3-pointer to open the second half. Shiloh scored 10 points in the first 7 minutes after halftime, but Cal put together a 13-4 run midway through the half to cut Nevada's lead to 61-56.

Cal then tied it with seven straight points, capped by Theo Robertson's tying 3-pointer with 5:15 left.

Stanford beat Texas Tech 70-59 in the opening matchup of the 10th annual edition of the Challenge. The 91-year-old Newell, who watched both games from courtside, won an NIT title with San Francisco, an NCAA championship with Cal and the 1960 Olympic gold medal for the U.S. team.

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