Freshman Jabari Bird scored five of his game-high 24 points in the final 1:25 as the Cal Golden Bears had to struggle to get past the shorthanded Oakland Golden Grizzlies in an obviously Golden game at Haas Pavilion Friday night, 64-60, in the opener of the Maui Invitational.
Bird scored 19 of his points after halftime, as the Golden Bears (3-0) had to rally from a six-point halftime deficit. The freshman canned his first five 3-pointers and finished 6-for-8 from behind the arc on the night.
None of them was bigger than the last.
With the game tied 56-56, Bird drained a 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining to give the Golden Bears the lead for good. He later put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left.
Oakland (0-3) is normally more of an up-tempo team, but with two players suspended after an incident off the court in Los Angeles, where the Golden Grizzlies had lost to UCLA on Tuesday night. While prosecutors declined to press charges after an alleged sexual assault because of a lack of evidence, Oakland suspended second-leading scorer Duke Mondy and forward Dante Williams, leaving the Golden Grizzlies with just eight players in uniform.
The slower pace almost led to a big upset. Oakland led by as many as nine points in the first half before the Bears could rally.
Bird became the first Golden Bear to make six 3-pointers in a game since Allen Crabbe made six at Oregon in January 2012.
Richard Solomon set a new career-high for rebounds for a second straight game, grabbing 17—one more than he had in a win over Denver on Tuesday. Solomon also scored 11 points and had three steals. The Bears outrebounded Oakland 41-33 and outscored them in the paint 28-20.
Justin Cobbs had 13 points and five assists for Cal.
Travis Bader led the Golden Grizzlies with 21 points. Kahlil Felder added 13, Tommie McCune had 11 and Corey Petros went for 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Golden Bears host Southern Utah (1-1) Monday night at 8 p.m. before heading to Maui for the main part of the Maui Invitational beginning Nov. 25.