2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament: Jabari Bird powers Cal past Oregon State in first round
LAS VEGAS – Jabari Bird scored 20 points and converted a key 3-point play with 54 seconds left, helping California grind out a 67-62 victory over Oregon State Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Cal (20-11) labored for most of the game offensively and had a hard time containing Oregon State's Stephen Thompson Jr. The fifth-seeded Bears pulled it out behind Bird and a strong second half by Ivan Rabb, earning a spot in Thursday's quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Utah.
Rabb finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds after scoring two on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half.
Thompson had 25 points and hit 5 of 6 from 3-point range to keep Oregon State (5-27) in the game until late. The Beavers pulled within 59-57, but Bird was fouled on a layup and hit the free throw to put Cal up five.
The Bears came into the game knowing they couldn't afford a letdown against the 12th-seeded Beavers to maintain any hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Cal won the two regular-season meetings against Oregon State by a combined 41 points, but the Beavers were ready for the Bears in round three.
Oregon State opened the game by making three of its first four shots from 3-point range and hounded Cal defensively. The Beavers had an early 10-4 run to lead by eight and withstood a run by Cal to stay within 32-29 at halftime.
Oregon State continued to hang around, still within one after Cal forgot to guard Thompson on back-to-back 3-pointers midway through.
Even when the Bears tried to pull away, the Beavers stayed on their heels, keeping the game closer than expected.