Cal holds off Cal State Fullerton 95-89 in overtime
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Darius McNeil scored a season-high 30 points but California needed late heroics from cold-shooting Don Coleman to hold off Cal State Fullerton 95-89 in overtime on Saturday.
Coleman made just one of his first 12 shots, but scored 17 points in the final 3:35 of regulation and overtime as the Bears (5-6) won their second straight game. He converted a 4-point play with two minutes left in the second half and had eight points in the extra period, including six on free throws.
“I was struggling, but I’m going to keep playing,” said Coleman, who finished 5 for 23 but scored 26 points, thanks to a 13-for-16 effort from the free throw line.
The No. 4 scorer in the Pac-12 with a 20.6 average, Coleman said, “I always think the next one is going to go in. I never lose confidence in myself.”
For Cal first-year coach Wyking Jones, it was a stressful afternoon. “I think I need to find a really good cardiologist,” he said. “I know I aged today.”
McNeil, a point guard from Houston, complemented his big scoring game with six rebounds, six assists and five steals. He had 22 points in the first half, when he made 8 of 9 shots, converting all four of his 3-point tries.
“He was really good,” Jones said. “He’s a talented, talented young man. We have a ton of confidence in him.”
Cal’s Marcus Lee had 19 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
Fullerton’s Daniel Venzant forced overtime when he scored on a drive to the basket with 0.3 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 80. But Cal scored the first seven points of overtime, just as it opened the game with a 12-0 run to eventually lead by 15 points late in the first half.
“I was waiting for my team to show up,” Fullerton coach Dedrique Taylor said of the game’s start. “Eventually, we gave ourselves a chance. But I thought we also gave the game away in a lot of ways. There were a lot of 50-50 plays that could have gone either way that we just didn’t make.”
Kyle Allman scored 30 points and Khalil Ahmad had 21 for the Titans (6-4), who had a five-game win streak snapped.
Cal State Fullerton: Hoping for their first win over a Pac-12 school since beating Utah 81-50 six years ago, the Titans fell to 0-2 against the conference this season and 7-44 all-time.
Cal: The Bears won for the second straight game but still must beat Seattle and Portland State to avoid their first losing record prior to the start of Pac-12 play since going 4-5 to start the 2003-04 season.
Cal’s Jones said he did not realize Coleman had shot so poorly until seeing the stat sheet after the game. “During the flow of the game, you see him getting fouled and knocking down his free throws,” Jones said. “I’m OK with his aggressiveness.”
FINDING A RHYTHM
Fullerton entered the game ranked 301st nationally in 3-point accuracy at 30.9 percent, but made 12 of 24 from beyond the arc, including five by Ahmad and four by Allman. Over the past two games, the Titans have made 22 of 43 from deep.
“I think we’ve got to make sure we take good shots with our feet set,” Taylor said. “Allowing ourselves to take (those) shots after the ball has moved around. Then we can get some good looks.”
Cal State Fullerton plays at Loyola Marymount on Friday.
Cal plays at Seattle on Tuesday.