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Oregon State beats Cal for first Pac-12 win

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POSTED January 5, 2012 11:37 p.m.

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State let a big lead slip away but found enough in the closing minutes to get an important win.

Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks had 24 points apiece Thursday as the Beavers held off a late California run for a 92-85 win.

Oregon State (11-4, 1-2 Pac-12), which also got 14 points from Angus Brandt and 13 from Joe Burton, led by as many as 16 in the second half only to see Cal (12-4, 2-1) close within four points with five minutes left.

“We didn’t get rattled, and that’s big because you stay under control and you just keep making good plays, smart decisions,” said Starks, who had five 3-pointers, including one that put the Beavers back ahead 10 with 1:49 left.

Both teams shot well from the floor in the second half — Oregon State was 16 of 21, while Cal was 18 of 29. The Beavers finished 31 of 49 (63 percent), while the Golden Bears were 31 of 54 (57 percent).

Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez had 17 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. Justin Cobbs added 18 points and five assists for the Golden Bears.

“There’s a lot of things you can look at, but the fact is they played extremely well,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of the Beavers.

Oregon State took the lead for good, 40-38, on Cunningham’s two free throws 11 seconds after halftime.

A Starks 3-pointer later put the Beavers ahead seven, and Oregon State got the lead to 10 for the first time, 60-50, on two more Cunningham foul shots with 12:23 remaining.

Cal got as close as eight but Oregon State answered with six straight points to go back ahead 68-54 with 9:56 left.

The Beavers went ahead by 16 before Cal scored 12 straight, including two 3-pointers by Allen Crabbe and a four-point play by Gutierrez, to close within 77-73 with five minutes left.

But the Beavers scored the next four and the Golden Bears got no closer than six the rest of the way.

“They know how to come from behind,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said of the Golden Bears. “It was nice to see them really take a run at us and for us to hold onto our guts and give them a run right back and widen it back out. It’s a great learning experience and a great accomplishment because they’re young guys and they haven’t been in a position like this before.”

Oregon State was 11 of 18 on 3-pointers, including Starks’ five, three by Brandt and two by Cunningham.

Starks scored the last five points in a 13-0 Oregon State run after California got the first five points of the game. The Golden Bears eventually closed within one, but Starks later scored five straight again to put the Beavers up 25-18.

Gutierrez scored five points in an 8-0 run the put Cal back ahead 26-25 with 6:36 left in the half. The game remained tight the rest of the half and was tied 38-38 at halftime.

Starks had 13 points and Gutierrez nine to lead their respective teams at the half.

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