Brandon Walker had 26 points, Brian Goracke hit a key shot and two free throws down the stretch as Montana State held off Cal 63-60 in a men’s nonconference basketball game Thursday in Berkeley, Calif.
Rebounding from a loss at Seattle on Saturday, the Bobcats (2-1) led most of the way, including by as many as 14 points early in the second half.
Cal got within one on two free throws from Jaylon Tyson with 2:34 remaining, but Goracke countered with an interior hoop on Montana State’s next possession to push the lead back up to 59-56 with 2:06 to go.
After a Tyler Patterson steal, Goracke made it a five-point game with two foul shots at the 1:20 mark. The visitors held on even though Cal had two shots at a tie in the final four seconds, but Jalen Cone missed a pair of 3-point attempts.
Walker’s team-high point total came on 12-of-21 shooting for Montana State, the two-time defending Big Sky Conference tournament champs as 27- and 25-game winners. Walker also had a game-high four assists.
Robert Ford III was Montana State’s leading rebounder with nine. Patrick McMahon chipped in with 10 points and three steals for the Bobcats, who won despite shooting just 4-for-24 from 3-point range.
Montana State’s Sam Lecholat was the only player in the game to make multiple 3-pointers, going 2-for-4, one coming with 3:19 left in the game to give the Bobcats a 57-51 lead.
Cal made the same percentage of its 3-point tries (3-for-18, 16.7 percent).
Tyson finished as the game’s leading scorer with 27 points for Cal (2-2), a 29-loss team a year ago that was attempting to match last season’s win total.
Fardaws Aimaq was the game’s leading rebounder with 12 to go with 14 points for the Golden Bears, who have alternated wins and losses this season.
Tyson grabbed eight rebounds for Cal, which outrebounded the guests 39-25.
Cone, who had eight points, shot 1-for-10 from beyond the 3-point arc.