LAS VEGAS — Cal's basketball team won the final 2 minutes against Florida State on Saturday night in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic.
By then, it didn't matter.
The Golden Bears scored 20 points in the final 1:39, slashing a 13-point deficit down to two before the Seminoles escaped with an 80-77 victory.
First-year Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose squad lost for the first time after five victories, said the furious finish can't disguise what happened over the first 38-plus minutes.
"They really physically handled us," he said. "They got us back on our heels, and we just didn't respond very well. Early on, we just didn't have much cookin'."
The night after Cal overcame a Thomas and Mack Center crowd of 13,380 fans to thump Nevada-Las Vegas 73-55, there was no big crowd on hand for the title game. Only a big opponent.
Florida State (7-0) was by far the biggest team Cal has faced this season. With five players ranging from 6-foot-9 to 7-1 rotating in and out, the Seminoles cooled the Bears' red-hot shooting.
Cal converted just 39 percent from the field and didn't make a 3-point basket until the second half. The Bears entered the game leading the NCAA in 3-point accuracy at 60.7 percent.
"We dictated everything that happened against UNLV, and they did the same thing to us tonight," Cal point guard Jerome Randle said. "I kind of blame myself for not bringing energy at the beginning of the game."
In fact, the Bears led 12-6 after 6 minutes, but once FSU adjusted to Cal's quickness, size took over.
"We knew they were going to be physical, and for some reason we didn't come out and match that," said junior Theo Robertson, who scored 16 points.
The Seminoles' size didn't create a distorted rebound margin but never allowed the Bears to find an easy shooting rhythm.
Not until the game's final 2 minutes, anyway.
Down 70-57, the Bears went to a smaller lineup and spread the floor. Randle scored 15 points in the final 1:39, allowing him to equal his career high of 26. He was 16-for-18 from the foul line, 12 coming down the stretch.
But the 5-foot-10 junior seemed bothered by FSU's size much of the night and shot just 4-for-12 from the field. "They were pretty long," he said.
Cal got as close as 78-76 when Randle made two free throws with 8.2 seconds left. FSU's Jordan DeMercy then shot an airball free throw before making his second with 7.2 seconds left, pushing the lead back to three points.
After a FSU timeout, Robertson inbounded to Randle, who was fouled by Pierre Jordan with 3 seconds left — a smart move that prevented a 3-point shot. Randle made the first, missed the second intentionally, and the Seminoles got the rebound.
"We just did not play well enough to win," Montgomery summed up. "They were the aggressor, and the aggressor generally has the advantage."
-- Jeff Faraudo