ANAHEIM (AP) — So far this season, California appears to be a two-man team if the final stat sheets are any indication. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are averaging more than 20 points for the Golden Bears, while everyone else is averaging 8.3 or fewer.
Somewhere along the line, coach Mike Montgomery hopes the offense will spread throughout the roster. But on Sunday night, he had no complaints after Crabbe’s 24 points and Cobbs’ 20 helped California beat Pacific 78-58 in the championship game of the DirecTV Classic.
“We’ve got talent. It’s just a matter of us taking advantage of our talent and having guys being able to be as good as they’re capable of,” Montgomery said. “That means our team has to play together, so that we can take advantage of the skills that we have. We’ve got to know how to get Allen Crabbe shots, and that’s a team thing. To turn that around, Allen knows he’s going to draw a lot of attention — which means he’s going to help other guys get shots.”
Richard Solomon had 14 points and eight rebounds, helping the Bears record their fifth double-digit win and improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2007.
“As much as it means to win this tournament, it’s still early,” said Cobbs, the tournament MVP. “Me and Allen have talked about being consistent. We also talked about defense and other things that don’t have to do with offense. Coach always talks about how, as a point guard, you have to be a leader. I’m 21 and I’ve grown a lot. I’m just finally finding a rhythm and playing my game.”
Cal leads 26-2 in the all-time series between the Northern California schools, which are 80 miles apart. This was the first meeting since Dec. 9, 2009, when Cal beat Pacific 79-54 in the first Division I basketball game at the Stockton Arena.
“There’s no reason to lose confidence because we lost to Cal today. But on the other hand, we’re not happy about losing to Cal,” coach Bob Thomason said. “All of the stuff we were making mistakes at, I think we can clean up and get better. We expect to be a team that plays together and plays well and can compete in our conference.”
Ross Rivera scored 13 points for Pacific (3-3), which shot 34.4 percent and went 3 of 17 from 3-point range. Shooting guard Sama Taku missed all eight of his shots after going 16 of 32 from the field over his previous four games.
“I thought they had a little bit of a problem with our length, so they weren’t able to take the ball inside,” Montgomery said.
Trailing by 14 at halftime, Pacific rallied within 53-45 after Trevin Harris was fouled by Crabbe on a 3-point shot and sank all three free throws. Lorenzo McCloud triggered a 6-0 spurt by the Tigers and Khalil Kelley’s jump-hook narrowed the gap to 59-54.
But Cal responded with a three-point play by David Kravish, a fastbreak layup by Crabbe and another layup by Cobbs for a 66-54 cushion with 5:25 to play beginning a game-ending 19-4 run. The Bears were 22 for 25 on free throws, with Cobbs converting all eight of his and Crabbe going 5 for 7 from the line. They also were a combined 15 of 26 from the field.
Crabbe led Cal to a 41-27 halftime lead with 14 points. The Bears opened the game with a 7-0 run and extended the margin to 23-8 with 10 in a row, including seven free throws followed by Brandon Smith’s 3-pointer at 11:30 before intermission. The largest discrepancy in the half was at the foul line, where Cal was 13 of 15 and Pacific 3 of 4.
“If we execute, we’re hard to guard without bumping us or holding us,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got decent size, and obviously (Crabbe and Cobbs) are big-time players. So if you don’t have guys that can defend guys at that level, we’re going to get foul shots — and these guys aren’t going to miss them. Generally speaking, they’re money from the line.”
The Tigers entered this tournament with an advantage over the other seven schools, having gone on a summer tour in France that allowed Thomason to have the team together for 10 extra practices. They began his 25th and final season at Pacific 1-2 before beating Xavier 70-67 in Thursday’s first round and Saint Mary’s 76-66 on Friday.
“I’ve got to give Pacific credit. They play hard,” Montgomery said. “I mean, they’re tough and they don’t give in much.”
The Bears had the luxury of playing the late game all three days of the eight-team tournament, which they began with a 73-70 victory over Drake before beating Georgia Tech 68-57 the following day.
“I’m very excited about the group of guys we have. I know we can be something special,” Crabbe said.