Cal's storybook season comes to an end in Omaha

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Cal's storybook season comes to an end in Omaha

June 23, 2011

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- After its roller-coaster season, California is thankful to have next year.

The Bears began the season under the impression there would be no next year for their program. There will be, however, thanks to alumni and boosters and others who raised the money necessary to keep it going.

That is especially comforting to coaches and players of California after its 8-1 loss to Virginia at the College World Series on Thursday night.

The Bears couldn't get their bats going against Virginia starter Tyler Wilson, and their three errors proved costly.

"Obviously, it's disappointing the way (we) went out. Very uncharacteristic of us," Chadd Krist said. "We made it to Omaha a lot of people can't say they've done that and we did it with our best buds. We're disappointed, but celebrate the season a little bit, too."

Cal (38-23) learned during fall practice that its administration planned to cut the program for budgetary reasons in 2012. A number of players started looking for new schools. Many stayed and held out hope.

In April, the players found out that a 9 million fundraising effort had saved the program.

Coach David Esquer called it a "crazy year."

"I think our program and our players proved a lot to themselves that they can take with them the rest of their lives," he said. "They've learned a lot of lessons about perseverance and strength and it's going to help them be better husbands and fathers. It's been a year that has really taught them, as well as myself, a whole lot about human spirit."

The Bears made the NCAA tournament after a sixth-place finish in the Pac-10, and they came back from a six-run deficit in the sixth inning to beat Baylor in a regional final.

But they couldn't get past Wilson, an unbeaten senior who allowed five hits and carried a shutout into the eighth inning.

"All yearlong, whenever we've needed a great outing, maybe after a difficult loss, he's responded every time for his team," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "He was the right guy to give the ball to tonight. He went out there and charged the mound and gave us everything that he had."

Virginia (56-11) will face defending national champion South Carolina in the Bracket 2 final. The Cavs, who lost 7-1 to the Gamecocks on Tuesday, would need to beat them on Friday and again Saturday to reach next week's best-of-three championship round.

Wilson (10-0) held the Bears to two hits through five innings and retired 11 in a row from the second to sixth. He matched his career high of 7 2-3 innings, striking out five and walking none.

Cal starter Dixon Anderson (4-4) took the loss, failing to get past the third inning for the third time in five starts.

Virginia broke open the game with a four-run sixth that started when Kenny Swab singled into center field and kept running until he got home after the ball got past center fielder Darrel Matthews.

Matthews misplayed the bounce on Swab's hard drive and the ball rolled to the wall, bringing the overflow crowd of 25,833 to its feet. It was Matthews' first error in 50 games this season.

"I saw him kind of trying to make a short-hop catch on it, and it went by, so I just started running as hard as I could," Swab said.

Anderson hit Taylor with the first pitch of the game. His wild pitch in the third let Jared King score the first run. Anderson's throw to first on Werman's sacrifice bunt pulled Devon Rodriguez off the bag, and Werman scored on a sacrifice fly.

Wilson left in the eighth after Cal put two runners on base. Cody Winiarski relieved, and Tony Renda ended the shutout with an RBI single. That was it for the Bears.

"One of the first things I thought was, 'Is it really over?' I couldn't really believe it," Pac-10 player of the year Renda said. "The second thought was, 'Let's win it next year.'"

Rewind: Klay drops 60, finds a zone most never experience

Rewind: Klay drops 60, finds a zone most never experience

OAKLAND – The shots kept falling, splashing through the net from all over the court, jumpers from 20 feet, from 25, from 30, layups from one side of the bucket, then the other. Klay Thompson was tap-dancing all over the Indiana Pacers.

It didn’t seem logical that a self-respecting NBA team like the Pacers would allow one man to put on a personal showcase, with them as the victims.

That’s precisely what Thompson did Monday night, before the 200th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, pouring in 60 points – more than he has ever scored in a game, more than anyone in the NBA his scored this season – in a 142-106 crushing of Indiana.

“Klay did do a good job of moving without the ball,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Tonight, he was moving and they were finding him.

“We needed to get more help, and we didn’t. He lit us up.”

In scoring 60 points in only 29 minutes – he exited with 1:22 left in the third quarter and did not return – Thompson found a zone above even the most ethereal zones. He happened upon a place even the most hallowed most NBA players never get the privilege of experiencing.

“That’s a feat I would put money on to probably never be touched ever again in the history of basketball,” said Stephen Curry, the reigning scoring champion as well as back-to-back MVP.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Kevin Durant, the four-time scoring champ who also has an MVP trophy to his name. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

With Thompson raining shots, his teammates standing and clapping and boogieing to the roar of the crowd, the Pacers were helpless witnesses to their own dismantling. As Thompson sizzled, and their defense fizzled, one thing became clear: There would be no double-teaming of the hottest shooter in the NBA this season.

How do you double-team Thompson, who plays mostly without the ball, when he’s sharing the court with Curry and Durant? You don’t. You take your chances and hope. And if Thompson is stroking it, you’re in trouble.

The Pacers tried numerous defenders on Thompson and none was up to the challenge. The Warriors, smelling the Pacers’ futility, went after them with a vengeance.

“You could see that once he got hot, Steph was looking for him and Draymond (Green) and KD and Andre (Iguodala) and Zaza (Pachulia), they were all looking for him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“I’ve said this before, but I really believe the strength of our team the last few years offensive is the number of guys that can pass and make plays. What’s really gratifying as a coach is when you see that type of unselfishness.”

By the time Indiana’s superstar, Paul George, took the assignment, trying to cool Thompson, it was well into the third quarter, much too late. Thompson had made 21 of his 33 shots, including eight of his 14 launches from beyond the arc. He had become the first player in the shot-clock era (beginning in 1954-55) to score 60 points in fewer than 30 minutes.

He had hung the Pacers on a wall.

“I will celebrate this tonight,” said Thompson, whose previous career-high was 52 points. “It’s a feat I never really thought I would be able to do growing up.”

Asked if could have scored 80 points, Thompson barely skipped a beat.

“Maybe. I think I could have,” he said. “And maybe one day I will have the opportunity. 60 points in 29 minutes is not bad. I’m satisfied with that.”

His teammates were beyond satisfied. They were delighted. Enchanted. Durant scored 20 points and was agape at Thompson’s performance. Curry had 13 points, 11 assists and zero turnovers and was unusually demonstrative in recapping Thompson’s night.

“We just kept feeding him and feeding him, and he was knocking down some unbelievable shots,” Durant said.

“It was just so much fun to watch,” Curry said. “We appreciate that entertainment value as his teammates to see what he was able to do tonight. It was crazy.”

This was Thompson, taking full and extravagant advantage of both his own shooting skill as well as the benefit of teammates too lethal for any defense to ignore.

All of which left the other 29 teams around the NBA watching and wondering where on earth do they turn if any Thompson or Curry or Durant enters a zone.

This is quite the quandary, and it’s precisely what the Warriors had in mind when they hired Durant.

Instant Replay: Klay erupts for career-high 60, Warriors destroy Pacers

Instant Replay: Klay erupts for career-high 60, Warriors destroy Pacers

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – As the Warriors on Monday night celebrated their 200th consecutive sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, All-Star guard Klay Thompson gave 19,596 fans an evening they’ll never forget.

Thompson scored 60 points, a career-high for him and the most any player has scored in the NBA this season, to carry the Warriors to a 142-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Thompson scored 17 points in the opening period, 23 in the second – for 40, representing a career-high for points in a half – and closed out his night with 20 in the third quarter.

So hot was Thompson that only no other teammate exceeded 20 points. Kevin Durant totaled 20, Stephen Curry had 13 and Ian Clark finished with 11.

Curry posted a season-high 11 assists, and Draymond Green recorded 10 as the Warriors were credited with 45 helpers overall.

With a 116-83 lead after three quarters, Warriors coach Steve Kerr went to his reserves for the entire fourth quarter.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Thompson, who took possession in the first half and locked it up in third quarter.

Thompson’s line: 60 points (21-of-33 from the field, 8-of-14 from deep, 10-of-11 from the free throw line). He played 29 minutes and finished plus-37 for the night.

TURNING POINT:
When a Monta Ellis layup pulled the Pacers within seven (46-39) with 8:14 left in the second quarter, the Warriors went on a 24-3 run to go up 70-42 with 2:34 remaining in the half.

They went into intermission with an 80-50 lead, and Indiana got no closer than xx for the rest of the game.

The Warriors trailed for all of 12 seconds (in the first five minutes) in the game.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: No injuries were listed and none was reported.

Pacers: No injuries were listed and none was reported.

ROSTER NOTE:
Rookie C Damian Jones is on assignment with D-League Santa Cruz.

WHAT’S NEXT:
The Warriors travel to Los Angeles, where on Wednesday night they face the Clippers at Staples Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30.