Lampley scores 25, Wethers hits career-high 21 in win
Following one of the best games in college basketball this year, the Cal-Georgia finale of the Pete Newell Classic was satisfying for the Bears despite the lack of enthusiasm by the crowd.
Cal (5-3) beat the Bulldogs (6-5) soundly, 85-64, in what was their best win of the young season. Unfortunately, half of the Calfornia college-record 19,804 people who attended the Stanford-Duke matchup to begin the doubleheaders left the Oakland Coliseum before the second game tipped off, and most of the folks who stuck around left during the second quarter.
The absent fans missed a startling explosion of the Bear offense, with forward Sean Lampley leading the way as usual with a season-high 25 points on the night. The senior had a balanced night, scoring 12 points in the first half and 13 in the second. Point guard Shantay Legans continued his productive season with 13 points, including a perfect three-for-three from long range.
“Sean Lampley was the key to this game. I told Sean that if he could duplicate what he did in the first half that we’d be okay,” Braun said. “I thought he played his best game of the year. Sean made every guy on our team play better tonight and that’s what great players do.”
A surprise contribution came from swingman Brian Wethers, who scored 13 first-half points on his way to a career-high 21 in the game. Wethers hit his first five shots, including three three-pointers, the last giving the Bears a 38-23 lead late in the first half.
“I thought Brian Wethers did a great job out on the floor,” Cal head coach Ben Braun said. “He certainly played hard today and that was a great thing for us.”
With coaching legend and big-man specialist Newell sitting courtside, Lampley and fellow Newell Big Man Camp attendee Nick Vander Laan did their tutor proud. Lampley had 10 assists and six rebounds to go with his game-high point-total, and Vander Laan pulled off a double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds to go with 14 points.
“You’d better be fundamental with Pete Newell watching the ball game. Pete is an inspiration to me and this team. Pete needs to come to all of our games and look over our big guys.”
A seven-point Georgia run late in the first half cut the Cal lead to six, but Cal point guard Shantay Legans hit a runner with four seconds left in the half, and the Bears led 43-35 at halftime.
Whatever Braun said to his team at halftime must have boosted their confidence, as the Bears came out of the locker room on fire. Legans hit wide-open three-pointers on the first two possessions, and Ryan Forehan-Kelly hit Lampley under the basket with a no-look pass as Cal scored eight points in a little more than a minute to start the half.
“They just came out and made every shot. It looked like we weren’t even guarding them,” said Georgia head coach Jim Harrick. “I thought that maybe their practice could have been easier than what we were doing tonight.”
The Bears also managed to turn the ball over just five times in the game, while Georgia committed 15 turnovers. Braun’s team has won every game this season in which they have won the turnovers battle, and all three Bears losses came when they turned the ball over more than their opponent.
Center Solomon Hughes hit a hook shot to give Cal a 10-0 run and an 18-point lead before Georgia’s Anthony Evans made a layup to stop the bleeding. But the Bulldogs would never get closer than eight points again as the Bears held the lead almost the entire game.
Evans, another player who attended Newell’s camp, was the only Bulldog who looked alive in the second half, dragging his team back into the game with his rugged inside play. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound senior scored 12 points in the second half to finish with 16, the most by any Georgia player.
The Bears also outrebounded the Bulldogs 33-32, despite the presence of the beefy Evans and 7-foot-1 Robb Dryden, and held Georgia’s leading scorer, guard D.A. Layne, to 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
The crowd was treated to a great game between No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Stanford to open the night. Stanford came back from a 15-point second-half deficit to beat the Blue Devils on a Casey Jacobsen shot with just 4.6 seconds remaining in the game.