Gutierrez Takes Charge Rallies Cal

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Anytime Cal and Stanford meet at Haas Pavilion it is a guaranteed battle, in which the stars play like stars and the winning team wills its way to victory. But on this day, with the Bears facing a massive first-half deficit, Cal turned to a reserve freshman to bring them back.

After a layup by Stanford forward Lawrence Hill late in the first half, the Bears found themselves in a dire situation, down 22 points at home, against a conference rival who has had their number the past few years. The crowd of 10,503 at Haas was already anxious. The Bears were in desperate need of a spark.

Enter Jorge Gutierrez, a freshman averaging just 4.2 points and three rebounds per game.

With Stanford up 47-25 with 4:33 in the first half, Gutierrez began the charge.

First, it was a layup that brought the Cardinal lead down to 20. Moments later, a Gutierrez steal led to a Patrick Christopher layup, cutting the lead to 16. With time winding down in the first half, Gutierrez found himself with yet another steal that eventually lead to free throws by Harper Kamp. Stanford found itself leading 50-36 at halftime, but the momentum was swinging Cal's way.

"We got very aggressive and got up and tried to make something happen and when that happened our offense got better," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "I think we changed the momentum and their mentality with our aggressiveness."

"I thought [Gutierrez] picked everyone up. He was extremely valuable."

The Bears came out in the second half just as energized, scoring the first eight points to cut the Stanford lead 50-44. The effort and desire needed to win a rivalry game was present from that point on, and much of it can be attributed to Gutierrez.

Afterall, he played the entire second half, doing a bit of everything.

When Jerome Randle had trouble getting shots off, Gutierrez manned the point, attacked the basket, and looked to his playmakers. When Gutierrez was on the floor, the defense was tenacious, holding Stanford, who shot 67.9% in the first half, to only 33.3% in the second half. When Gutierrez was on the floor, the Haas crowd was as loud as it has been in recent memory.

"[I] just [wanted] keep the whole team and crowd involved in the game," Gutierrez said.

When the Bears had finally cut the lead to one; Gutierrez forced another Stanford turnover, leading to a layup by Jerome Randle with 3:04 left to give the Bears its first lead since the opening moments.

At that point, Gutierrez had sparked the comeback and made the play that gave Cal the lead. All he needed to do was be the dagger.

With 1:40 to play and the Bears up by two with the ball, Gutierrez played that role of a dagger, faking a defender and drilling a 15-footer to up the Bear lead to four. From that moment on, it was cruise control, as the Bears rolled onto their eighth conference victory, and their first win over Stanford in four tries.

Gutierrez finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. Granted, he did not put up the 21 points that Christopher scored or dish out eight assists like Randle. But he did enough of everything to make it apparent that he can be a playmaker and a solid contributor for the future.

When asked about Jorge, Randle pretty much summarized it.

"Jorge was the difference, today."


Game Notes

  • Cal Hall-of-Famer Darrell Imhoff had his number officially retired and his jersey hung up on the rafters. "When you look up at that jersey, I want you remember the 1959 NCAA Championship team, and I want you to remember Pete Newell."
  • Cal's 22-point comeback was the largest deficit faced by Cal before winning since 1994, when they overcame a 20-point deficit to Arizona State to win.
  • The Bears had five players score double digit points in a game for the first time this season: Jamal Boykin (11), Randle (18), Christopher (21), Gutierrez (10), and Kamp (11)
  • Gutierrez's five steals were the most by a Bear since 2005, when Richard Midgley recorded six steals against Eastern Michigan.
  • The defense stepped up big time for the Bears in the second half. In the first half, Stanford scored 50 points off 67.9% shooting, including nine three-pointers. In the second half, Stanford only scored 25 points off 33.3% shooting, with only one 3-point shot being successful.


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