So close, Coach DeCuire.
Tyrone Wallace and the California men's basketball team spoiled a Montana upset bid in double-overtime, 78-76, in Travis DeCuire’s return to Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. where he was an associate head coach a season ago.
Free throws cost the Grizzlies, who were just 11 for 23 (48 percent) from the charity stripe. Montana had a chance to forget its woes at the line, as Jordan Gregory was fouled with 4.5 seconds remaining in the backcourt and he had a chance to tie the game.
“We played well enough to win the game, we just have to make free throws and we have to finish,” DeCuire told KGVO. “We walk away from this one and Boise (where the Griz lost in 2OT on Nov. 11) and we feel like we have a chance to close out these guys.”
The senior guard, who finished with a double-double, a co-team-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:01 in double-overtime to make it 76-76, but he couldn’t connect on the first free throw and deliberately missed the second. Cal tipped the ball out of bounds, but Jermaine Edmonds Jr. couldn’t connect on a last-second 3-pointer for Montana.
Golden Bears guard Tyrone Wallace hit the shot that made Montana groan, hitting a game-tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining in regulation, sending Cal to overtime when the Grizzlies’ final possession went fruitless. Montana led for over 13 minutes before Wallace’s shot.
Wallace, who finished with 22 points, continued to be a thorn in the Grizzlies’ side in the overtimes, and the sophomore hit a go-ahead trey with 1:34 in the second OT.
The Griz actually got out to a five-point lead in the first half, and they held a 27-26 advantage at the 5:30 mark, buoyed by Cal’s nine first-half turnovers. The Bears, though, closed out the stanza on a 9-2 run and took 35-29 point lead into the locker room.
Montana then opened the second half on a 21-7 run behind dominating play from forward Martin Breunig. He finished with 23 points and had three highlight-reel dunks, one coming on an inbounds alley-oop, despite sitting for over 10 minutes in the first half with two fouls.
The Griz, who were outrebounded 45-33, found their advantage by taking care of the ball. Montana forced 22 Cal turnovers to nine for the Grizzlies.
“You go 4 for 13 in the second half (from the free-throw line), if we make those, we’re probably almost even off the glass,” DeCuire said.
Six-foot guard Mario Dunn had seven points and five rebounds, including two offensive put-backs among the giants, in his return to the bay area. Dunn is a graduate from SalesianHigh School in Oakland. Edmonds, Jr. also from Richmond, Calif., added 12 points.
The near-loss puts a bright spot on the Grizzlies’ California road trip, where they went 0-2. They face North Dakota State University at home on Dec. 7.