Cal didn't win a game on Thursday as much as it avoided embarrassment.
The Golden Bears certainly deserve credit for coming back from a 12-point deficit with less than 16 minutes left to post a 71-68 victory over Oregon State on Thursday. And it was a milestone victory for Mike Montgomery, who got his 100th victory as Cal's head coach. But if Cal had lost at home to an Oregon State team that was 1-6 in the conference and whose only true road victory of the season had been against Portland State . . . well, luckily for the Bears that that did not happen, because Cal would have had had trouble rebounding from such a humbling loss, especially with No. 10 Oregon coming to Haas Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
Instead of being 3-5 in the Pac-12 with their third loss in four games and descending in a hurry, the Bears (12-8) are 4-4 in the conference heading into the game against Oregon, which has to be questioning itself after getting blown out by Stanford on Wednesday in the Ducks' worst performance of the season.
And although the Bears struggled against a team they should have handled at home on Thursday, they did have a noteworthy achievement: They won a game in which they trailed at halftime.
Because of Cal's offensive limitations, it had been unable to notch any comeback wins. Before Thursday, the Bears were 0-11 in games in which they trailed at halftime, and 8-0 in games in which they led at intermission.
So when Oregon State (11-12, 1-7) opened a 12-point lead in the first half and took an eight-point lead into halftime, it seemed the Bears were doomed.
Things looked even bleaker when the Beavers led 52-40 with 15:49 left in the game. However, Cal slowly reduced the deficit and tied the game on a Justin Cobbs jumper with 6:32 left. The Bears got behind again, but took the lead for good on a Cobbs three-pointer with 2:46 remaining.
Cal's Richard Solomon scored on a dunk with 17.6 seconds left to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Cobbs had 14 points and seven assists, while Allen Crabbe added 15 points and eight rebounds. But more significantly, Solomon and David Kravish scored 12 points apiece, giving the Bears some scoring balance for a change.
Cal is now tied with Washington, Colorado and Stanford for fifth place.