Utah 79 - California 69 (OT)
LAS VEGAS — Utah's Cinderella story lives to see another day at the MGM Grand Arena. The No. 10 seed Utes upset No. 2 seed California 79-69 in overtime in Thursday’s Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal. Utah advances to face the winner of Thursday's nightcap between Oregon and Washington.
A Jarred DuBois three-pointer fell to the bottom of the net with four seconds remaining in regulation to give the Utes a chance in overtime. They capitalized, exploding for 20 points in the extra frame to race to the 10-point win. Senior Jason Washburn and freshman Jordan Loveridge combined for 16 of Utah's 20 points in OT. "Once I saw JD hit that shot I felt like I had to back him up," Loveridge said of his overtime offensive outburst. "We just needed to turn it on. Why not go out and get it?"
Although Utah is the lowest seed left in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Utes showed no fear against the Golden Bears from the get-go. Utah held a seven-point lead with just over five minutes played in the first half. California worked to build an eight-point advantage early in the second half but Utah retook the lead using a 14-4 run with just under seven minutes to play. The rally was capped by two straight three-pointers from Loveridge, who finished with 18 second-half points and 20 overall.
"Our kids got to the point where we could have folded it up," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "The kids kept with it and the rim opened up for us. We made plays when we needed to. I thought our defense in the second half was as good as it's been all year." DuBois continued his stellar play in the tournament and led the Utes with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. DuBois had 22 points in Utah's opening-round win over USC on Wednesday.
[Related video: Larry Krystkowiak talks about the Utes' 79-69 upset win over Cal]
Allen Crabbe – recently named the Pac-12 Player of the Year – lived up to his billing by scoring 21 points. Teammate Justin Cobbs sliced Utah's defense for 26 points and five assists.
Cal's superior size (a combination of 6-foot-9 David Kravish, 6-foot-10 Richard Solomon and 6-foot-10 Robert Thurman) also gave Utah problems throughout the game as its big men cleaned the backboard. The Golden Bears owned a 40-30 advantage in the rebound column.
But it was not enough to overcome the Utes. Cal now awaits word from the NCAA tournament selection committee while Utah’s dream trip to Vegas continues. "We're pleased with where we are," Krystkowiak said of Utah's reversal of fortune. "We started out losing our first three league games by a total of eight points ... It was a strain to stay with it. When you get a group of guys that care as much as the coach does, you have a pretty special group." Game Photos (Eric Evans Photography): [gallery ids="1641,1616,1636,1639,1638,1650,1652,1581,1637,1651,1649,1640,1605"]
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