NCAA

Cal keeping NCAA Tournament hopes alive after falling in Pac-12 semis

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AP

Cal keeping NCAA Tournament hopes alive after falling in Pac-12 semis

BOX SCORE

LAS VEGAS -- Oregon guard Dillon Brooks headed to the bench two minutes into the second half due to foul trouble. Most teams would take a step back without their leading scorer.

The deep, talented Ducks flew forward instead.

Tyler Dorsey had 23 points, Dylan Ennis scored on a key three-point play with 22 seconds left, and No. 5 Oregon outlasted California 73-65 Friday night in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

"Everybody has to pick it up and pick up their role," Dorsey said. "That's what we did tonight. We can't control how the refs are going to call it and they called a couple on Dillon early, and everybody had to pick up."

Top-seeded Oregon (29-4) played most of the second half without Brooks due to foul trouble, but increased its lead behind a rash of blocked shots and transition baskets.

Jordan Bell controlled the inside, finishing with 15 rebounds and five of Oregon's seven blocked shots. Dorsey and Ennis (16 points) picked up the scoring slack.

Now the Ducks are headed to the Pac-12 title game for the third straight year, facing the winner between No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Arizona on Saturday night.

"We would like to win the conference tournament," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Whatever implications those have on our seeding, I don't know."

California (21-12) lost leading scorer Jabari Bird 64 seconds into the game to a head injury after a hard fall, yet held its own with the Ducks.

The fifth-seeded Bears pulled within two in the final minute, but Ennis scored on a hard drive and hit the free throw to put the Ducks up 70-65.

Grant Mullins led Cal with 23 points and Charlie Moore added 15. Bird was at the hospital being evaluated.

"I thought they did a great job competing, but that's what we're supposed to do," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's part of our program, so that part should be understood."

Cal took a couple of steps toward earning an at-large NCAA Tournament bid by beating Oregon State and Utah to open the Pac-12 Tournament after closing the regular season with five losses in six games.

Beating a top-five team would have been a huge boost, but it faced long odds coming into the night after losing twice to Oregon during the regular season.

Cal got a tough break barely a minute into Saturday's game, when Bird went down hard. He had to be helped to the locker room while holding a towel to the right side of his head.

But the injury and a quiet start by forward Ivan Raab did little to slow the Bears. They attacked the Ducks at both ends, leading for a good portion of the first half behind Moore and Mullins, who combined for 21 points.

"I didn't know what was going on," Raab said of Bird's injury. "We didn't really have time to really think about it. Guys stepped up and they played hard, and it is what it is."

Oregon turned up the defensive pressure late in the half, holding Cal without a field goal over the final 4:38 to build a 36-33 halftime lead.

Oregon opened the second half by getting into quick foul trouble. The Ducks had six in the opening 2 1/2 minutes - five on one possession - and Brooks had to go to the bench after picking up his fourth.

Despite the fouls, Oregon increased its lead, going up 49-37 after a 9-0 run.

Cal clawed back, whittling the lead down to 64-61 with 3 1/2 minutes left behind a little defense of its own, but couldn't finish it off.

BIG PICTURE

California kept battling after Bird went down and has given itself at least shot at getting an NCAA Tournament nod on selection Sunday.

"I think we're an NCAA Tournament team," Martin said. "Now it's for them to decide."

Oregon did not exactly play pretty, but found a way, earning a trip to the Pac-12 title game for third straight season.

BLOCKING DUCKS

Oregon reached 223 blocked shots for the season, breaking the school record for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The Ducks are one short of the Pac-12 record set by Washington last season.

UP NEXT

California must await word on its postseason fate.

Oregon will play the winner between No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Arizona in Saturday's championship game.

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

With Cal's late-night win over 14th-ranked Washington on Saturday, Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox now has a winning record (14-13) in his two-plus seasons in Berkeley.

After inheriting the program from Sonny Dykes, 42-year-old Wilcox is trying to build a winning culture, and he let NBC Sports Bay Area catch a glimpse of what he's working on, granting exclusive access to Monday's practice.

"We hold them to really high standards, but that's what this place is about," Wilcox said. "You gotta have something to you. You gotta have the 'figure-it-out factor,' as we call it. This place attracts people like that. It's a big draw for us."

Two days after the big win, Wilcox allowed NBC Sports Bay Area to mic him up for Cal's practice, and the relationship with his players was on full display. There was no yelling, no scolding. Only teaching.

"I just love how even-keeled he is. No matter if we do good or do bad, he's always ready to coach us, no matter what," Bears cornerback Camryn Bynum said. "Fix any mistakes, even if we had the best game we ever played -- he's always finding something to fix. As a player, he always holds us accountable to always get better every single day."

The last time the Bears made consecutive bowl appearances was 2008 and 2009. Wilcox is trying to end that drought this season, but he knows his 2-0 team has much work to do.

"To do what we want to do as a team, it's imperative that we improve every week," Wilcox said. "If they continue to practice like this and pour their heart into the meetings, we will improve, but we're a long way from where we could be."

The Bears will host North Texas on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. PT, and then travel to Oxford, Miss., to face Ole Miss before Pac-12 Conference play resumes.

New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up

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USATSI

New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up

Aaron Rodgers: fashion icon, rocket-armed quarterback, mustache marvel and proud Cal alum.

The Green Bay Packers star quarterback made a seven-figure donation to his alma mater back in June to revamp the football program's locker room and create the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship. The scholarship will go to one junior college transfer per season.

Rodgers, a Chico native, transferred to Cal after playing his freshman season at Butte College.

As for the locker room renovations, those recently were completed and this year's Bears were fired up about their new digs. 

Pretty, pretty flossy.

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Head coach justin Wilcox has put together an impressive defense that helped the Bears go 7-5 last season and earn a berth in the Cheez-It Bowl where they eventually lost to TCU.

Cal opens its season Saturday against UC-Davis.