March 20, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Jamal Boykin made two free throws with 3.7 seconds left, Ryan Anderson scored 26 points and California held off New Mexico 68-66 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night.
DeVon Hardin added 10 points and six rebounds, Jerome Randle scored 11 and Boykin 10 as the Golden Bears (17-15) advanced to face Ohio State (20-13) on Monday night in Columbus, Ohio. Cal, which won the NIT in 1999, made 22 of 31 free throws and shot 48 percent.
J.R. Giddens had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Lobos (24-9), whose 24 regular-season victories were a school record. Giddens scored over Patrick Christopher with 51.2 seconds left to tie the game, then Anderson missed two free throws at 36.2. After Boykin made his free throws, Giddens missed from just inside the 3-point line as the final buzzer sounded.
Giddens, New Mexico's leading scorer and rebounder and the co-Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, shot 8-for-14 but also missed two free throws off the front of the rim with 1:41 to play that could have tied the game.
The Bears, who had lost six of their last seven and finished ninth in the Pac-10, came out energized and pushed the ball at every chance to score easy baskets and get breakaway dunks. But a small crowd of only 1,906 fans came out to see it.
Cal's chances of reaching the NCAA tournament were spoiled with an 88-66 loss to No. 3 UCLA in the second round of the Pac-10 tournament last Thursday, only five days after the Bears played the Bruins to the final seconds in an 81-80 loss at Pauley Pavilion that ended on Josh Shipp's controversial over-the-backboard shot. So, playing well on their home floor in Haas Pavilion had to be a nice morale boost.
Cal used a 19-5 run late in the first half on the way to a 37-29 lead at the break despite going 2-for-10 from 3-point range. The Lobos went 5 minutes without scoring during one stretch.
New Mexico, which ranked first in the nation with 42.51 percent 3-point accuracy through Sunday, had won eight of its last 10 games with both defeats coming in overtime.
Cal has won four out five overall meetings between the schools, including 76-68 in the last matchup on Nov. 23, 2002, in Albuquerque.