California survived a second-half scoring drought and a scare from Prairie View A&M on Monday night to remain unbeaten with a 54-50 victory in a 2K Empire Classic campus game at Berkeley, Calif.
The Golden Bears (4-0) move on to face second-ranked Duke in the tournament semifinals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Texas and Georgetown will square off in the other semifinal, for which the matchups were set regardless of the campus results.
Cal held Prairie View (1-4) without a point for nearly nine minutes late in the first half to go up 35-24 before the Panthers got the last basket of the half. The Bears then extended the advantage to 11 on a Joel Brown layup in the first minute of the second period.
However, the Bears had only one hoop over the next 11 minutes, during which Faite Williams had eight points and Chancellor Ellis sank a pair of 3-pointers in an 18-2 burst that put the visitors on top 44-39.
Bradley hit two sets of two free throws to sandwich a Grant Anticevich basket in a six-point Cal counter that allowed the hosts to regain a lead at 45-44. The Bears lost the lead once more, 46-45, then jumped back in front and held on thanks in large part to an Anticevich 3-pointer that gave them a 52-48 cushion with 2:40 to go.
Ellis got Prairie View within two with a jumper with 2:09 to play, but the Panthers missed their next two shots, including a potential go-ahead 3-pointer by Ellis, and the Bears used a free throw each from Bradley and Anticevich to prevent the upset.
Bradley finished with 16 points while Anticevich had 13 points to go with a team-high six rebounds for Cal. The Bears entered the game among the national leaders in field-goal percentage but hit just 38.6 percent against the Panthers.
Williams and Ellis totaled 12 apiece. Lenell Henry snatched a game-high 12 rebounds to complement six points for Prairie View, a 22-win team and an NCAA Tournament participant last season.
--Field Level Media