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February 19, 2012

Gutierrez goes out with a bang



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Read more from our Staff Analyst, Ken Clampett, HERE

BERKELEY -- As far as Senior Nights go, this one was just about perfect for California. In Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp's last game at Haas Pavilion, the house was packed, the sound was deafening and the points were plentiful, as the Bears beat back visiting Oregon State, 77-63, as all five Cal starters -- Kamp and Gutierrez included -- scored in double figures.

"Having five guys in double figures always helps," said Bears head coach Mike Montgomery "You're more difficult to guard. You're not counting on one guy to have to make all the plays."

Down by two at the half, the Bears came back to shoot 53.1 percent after the break, while holding the Beavers to 31.4 percent, in large part thanks to the defensive intensity of players like Gutierrez.

The senior guard out of Chihuaua, Mex., scored a game-high 17 -- tied with true freshman David Kravish -- on 6-of-12 shooting, pulled down eight boards and added one assist and one steal.

"Typical line for Jorge," Montgomery said. "He just does a lot of stuff."

Gutierrez guarded Oregon State scorer Jared Cunningham for much of the night, and -- true to form -- held one of the Pac-12's leading scorers to one of his toughest shooting nights of the season. The 6-foot-4 junior shot 4-of-12 from the field and finished with 10 points after coming in averaging 18.9 points per game and shooting 44.7 percent from the field.

"He's a great player," Gutierrez said. "We knew that he was one of their go-to guys. It was not just me, defending him. It was a team effort, and I think we did a pretty good job."

Kamp -- despite being in foul trouble in the first half -- scored nine of his 13 points after the half, and pulled down a total of seven rebounds. The 6-foot-8 power forward shot 4-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in 31 minutes, as he and Gutierrez played in front of a crowd 11,331-strong, including a combined 25 members of their two families, who traveled up from Arizona, Gutierrez said, on the same plane.

"It was a great celebration for us, and I'm sure for Harper's family as well," said Gutierrez, who, before leaving with Kamp in the game's waning moments, was treated to perhaps the most comprehensive tribute to the fiery guard in his career: the Cal band played Olé! Olé!, two Mic Men ran up and down the court with Mexican Flags and a Rally Committee member hoisted a giant cut-out of Gutierrez's face in the stands. "We're very thankful for the chance the coaches and a lot of people gave me. It was fun for me. Besides all of this and besides the stats, we got the win, and that's what really matters."

The Bears were effective on defense in the second half, utilizing a triangle-and-two at times to take Cunningham and Devon Collier out of the game.

"We actually tried to take the two principles out," Montgomery said. "They had a big lineup in, with the two primary scorers, so we went to a triangle-and-two, trying to see if we couldn't maybe take them out and force the others to make shots. I thought it bought us some time. I thought it worked pretty well. We were able to get out on the break a little bit and they started missing some shots. We haven't done it much, and we certainly haven't done it much successfully, but I did think it bought us some time."

That strategy also minimized Kevin McShane and Angus Brandt.

"We got more aggressive," Montgomery said. "As compared to their place, where they shot 76 percent in the second half, they shot 31 percent. We out-rebounded them by nine. We kind of got handled on the boards in the first half. Devon Collier is a really nice rebounder. We did a better job [in the second half] on the boards, which allowed us to get out and run some stuff."

Before the break, the Beavers owned the boards, out-rebounding Cal 18-12, and getting two early fouls from both Kamp and sophomore Allen Crabbe.

"We don't like to see that, because it causes problems," Montgomery said. "But, we were able to make it through that. I thought Bak did a good job in there. He made a couple plays. Oregon State was scary. They're long, they're pretty athletic. Cunningham is legit. He's the real deal. There were some things that concerned us, obviously."

Despite scoring eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half with a block, the 6-foot-10 Kravish in particular was manhandled on the boards, not recording a single rebound in 19 minutes. After the break, though, the lengthy freshman came alive, hitting a turnaround jumper eight seconds in to tie the game at 34. From there, Kravish scored seven more points, pulled down seven rebounds, dished out one assist and tallied two blocks.

"That was definitely an emphasis on halftime: Stop getting out-physicalled," Kamp said. "They were really pushing hard and able to get us in bad position. We talked about that at half, and I think everyone did a great job of coming out and being that much more physical, and setting the tone."

With just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, Collier knocked Kamp to the ground in the low post without a call, but Kravish came in from behind and stripped the 6-foot-8 sophomore, pushing the ball up the floor and eventually to Gutierrez, who twirled an up-and-under reverse lay-up into the basket and drew the foul, hitting the free throw to put the Bears up, 57-47, and finish a 5-0 solo scoring run.

With eight minutes left, sophomore point guard Justin Cobbs drove the lane and lost the ball, and, as he rolled over in the paint, Kravish was able to recover and fire to Crabbe in front of the Cal bench. The pass, though, went through Crabbe's hands, but was recovered by Gutierrez, who found a slashing Crabbe in the key. Crabbe drove, put a shot up and missed, but Kravish was there to pick up the pieces and score the put-back, two of the Bears' 24 second-chance points on the evening.

"David gets bothered by things," Montgomery said. "He doesn't like change much. When he gets to not knowing what he's supposed to do, he kind of stands out there. I think, in the second half, he started going after the ball. He's got good touch. He makes shots. But, he did a better job on the boards, for sure. We were getting handled physically in the first half, and it hurt us. They took us out of the break. David goes for 17 and 7 with three blocks. That's pretty good."

Crabbe, for his part, started off slow, shooting 1-for-4 while picking up two fouls in the first half. 1:42 into the second half, Crabbe picked up his third infraction.

"He got in foul trouble, and I think that was it, as much as anything else," Montgomery said of Crabbe's icy start. "Oregon State was smart: They attacked him. We tried to put Allen on somebody who was less offensive-oriented, so that he didn't have to try, but then they set a screen with him and came off and Allen didn't want to switch onto one of the aggressive guys, so then the guy rolled and laid it up. They were smart. They tried to take advantage of the fact that Allen had foul trouble, and tried to get him out of there, but we just kept trying to find somebody for him to guard, so he didn't get that fourth foul."

After his 1-for-4 start, Crabbe shot 4-for-10 from the field and 2-for-5 from beyond the three-point line, finishing with 16 points and eight boards -- seven coming on the defensive glass. As the second half wore on and the Bears chipped away at the Beavers lead, Crabbe became more and more aggressive and deliberate. With 11:33 remaining in the game, Brandt went up against Kamp in the paint and missed a jumper. Kamp pulled down the board and pushed the ball up to Crabbe, who found Cobbs on the cross. Cobbs clanked a three from the right wing, but Kravish was able to beat out speedy Ahmaad Starks for the long rebound, firing back to Crabbe for a nothing-but-net trey to put the Bears up 54-47.

The Cal lead only got bigger from there, and despite a brief 7-1 Oregon State run with seven minutes to go, Montgomery felt comfortable enough with just under a minute left to take out his two seniors and let them leave to a standing ovation.

"You'd like to be able to get the seniors out like that if you have a chance," Montgomery said. "We had a little bit of cushion, so we were able to get them out."

Montgomery even got into the act, as the crowd stood to honor the pair, waving his arms upwards to pump up the volume.

"I was still looking up at the clock and the game is never really over for me," Kamp said. "I was coming out, and I realized it was over. Coach gave me a high-five, and I realized that was it. I was just honored to come out that way, and it meant a lot. It was so much fun, today."


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