Justin Cobbs was the entire Cal offense at the end of the Golden Bears' upset of Arizona on Saturday night.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

Cobbs plays role of hero in Cal's upset of No. 1

  • Article by: JEFF FARUDO
  • Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
  • February 2, 2014 - 11:30 PM


– Justin Cobbs couldn’t breathe, but he probably has never been happier.

Cobbs swished a fall-away 17-footer from the left baseline with 0.9 seconds left as California stunned No. 1 Arizona 60-58 in front of a delirious capacity crowd of 11,877 fans at Haas Pavilion on Saturday night.

Then the trouble began. Students rushed the floor and engulfed the victorious Bears, including Cobbs, a senior who transferred to Cal after spending one season with the Gophers.

“I was claustrophobic ... I couldn’t breathe,” Cobbs said. “But it was exciting.”

Cobbs scored Cal’s final 12 points, and the Bears (15-7, 6-3 Pacific-12) beat a No. 1 team on their home floor for the first time. It was just their third victory over a No. 1 team, and their first since Jason Kidd’s triple-double powered an 85-70 win over UCLA at the Oakland Coliseum on Jan. 30, 1994.

Arizona (21-1, 8-1) had the ball with 42 seconds left and ran time off until Nick Johnson missed a jumper with 17 seconds remaining. Tyrone Wallace rebounded for the Bears, and Cobbs went to work.

“I wanted to get to the basket. I was trying to give [Kaleb] Tarczewski a move,” Cobbs said.

Instead, Cobbs went left, faded and released his shot over the outstretched hand of the Wildcats’ 7-foot center.

“It felt good,” Cobbs said.

Teammate Richard Solomon wasn’t sure. “I thought it was going to be a little short,” he said. “It kept going, and it went through the net, and I thought, ‘Wow, that was pretty.’ ”

Students stormed the court, only to be pushed back into the stands by security because the game was not over.

After a Cal timeout, Solomon intercepted T.J. McConnell’s 60-foot inbounds pass — and students flooded the floor again.

“As long as I’ve been doing this, No. 1 always brings out everybody,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Before the game, I kind of looked up and said, ‘This is how it’s supposed to be.’ It was a really good crowd.”

And a terrific performance by the Bears, who had lost their three previous games after a 5-0 start to the Pac-12.

“We’re a great team. We always have confidence,” Cobbs said.

Montgomery knew his players would be ready after starting slowly the previous three games. “They were excited, and the crowd kept them excited,” he said. “I hope we can build on this.”

The Bears were hurt by Arizona’s offensive rebounding but got balanced scoring and solid defense. Cal was aggressive from the start and trailed for a total of just 16 seconds in the first half.

Cobbs finished with 19 points, 16 of them in the second half.

David Kravish had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, Solomon had 12 points and seven rebounds — all in the first half before running into foul trouble — and Wallace scored 11 points.

Wallace also took turns defending Arizona star guard Nick Johnson, who was held to 1-for-14 shooting. “He’s very good at getting to the basket, and we tried to take away driving lanes the best we could,” Montgomery said.

“A big part of us being 21-1 is how well he has played,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of Johnson. “Tonight wasn’t his night.”

Tarczewski led the Wildcats with 18 points, including 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Freshman Aaron Gordon of San Jose had 13 rebounds and six assists but was 4-for-14 from the field for eight points. The Wildcats shot 32 percent for the game.

Arizona sophomore forward and Oakland native Brandon Ashley injured his right foot three minutes into the game and did not return.

Miller said afterward that Ashley probably broke his foot, which could sideline him for the season. “That’s obviously very disappointing,” Miller said.

The Bears’ emotions were at the opposite end of the spectrum.

“I had a good feeling when I got up this morning,” Solomon said. “It clicked today for some reason. I guess because they’re No. 1.”

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