BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Darius McNeill scored 17 of his 22 points after the break and Cal used a big second half to beat San Jose State 88-80 on Friday night.
McNeill, a sophomore guard, drained four 3-pointers in the second half as the Bears (5-6) rebounded from a 22-point loss at Fresno State three nights earlier. Andre Kelly added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Cal and point guard Paris Austin dished a season-high 11 assists, nine in the 58-point second half.
“He’s a great shooter,” Cal coach Wyking Jones said. “He’s proven he can shoot the ball and he did that tonight. Even though he didn’t start off with a great percentage, he finished off well.”
Oumar Barry scored a career-high 18 points to lead San Jose State (3-8) and Noah Baumann also had 18.
The Spartans trailed by double digits down the stretch but cut the deficit to 84-80 with a minute remaining before Austin made four free throws to help ice the game.
San Jose State shot 56 percent from the field, including 9 for 18 from beyond the arc, but that was offset by 15 turnovers that helped fuel Cal’s transition offense.
“They did make 3s but I don’t think that was the reason we lost,” San Jose State coach Jean Prioleau said. “I think we lost because we turned the ball over. That led to easy buckets.”
The Bears turned it around after a cold-shooting first half. Trailing 32-30 coming out of the break, they rattled off a 9-0 run to take command. McNeill then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help propel Cal to its third victory in the past four games. The lefty shooter was just 1 for 6 from long distance in the first half.
Barry had 12 points in the first half as the Spartans took a 32-30 lead into the break.
The Bears shot just 36 percent in the first half, including 28 percent (5 for 18) on 3-pointers.
San Jose State: After losing by five to Stanford on Tuesday, the Spartans hung tough against another Pac-12 opponent but couldn’t come away with a victory.
Cal: The Bears are at their best forcing turnovers and scoring in transition, but McNeill’s hot shooting from the outside in the second half was much needed as well.
Early in the second half, McNeill went coast-to-coast after a steal and converted the layup, drew a foul and then completed the 3-point play as part of his big night.
Trailing by two at the half, Cal came out with full-court defensive pressure in the second half that stymied San Jose State’s offense and helped the Bears turn the tide.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Cal attempted just five free throws in the first half but went 17 for 20 from the line in the second half to supplement its hot perimeter shooting.
HE SAID IT
Cal coach Wyking Jones: “Paris Austin stands out to me, because we’ve been talking about sharing the ball and playing as a team, and he epitomized that tonight.”
San Jose State is off until Dec. 29, when it concludes a three-game run against Bay Area schools by visiting Saint Mary’s.
Cal wraps up its non-conference schedule Dec. 29 with a home game against Seattle.
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