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Cal routs Pac-10 rival Oregon to advance to NIT finals
Posted: Tuesday March 23, 1999 11:05 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Michael Gill made certain California didn't need a comeback to move into the NIT championship game.
Gill scored all of his career-high 22 points in the second half -- 17 in the first nine minutes -- as the Golden Bears beat Oregon 85-69 in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday night.
In two of its three previous NIT games, California had to rally from 12- and 17-point deficits to pull out victories over Fresno State and DePaul.
Gill, a 6-foot-6 forward, wanted nothing to do with comebacks at Madison Square Garden. The senior helped turn a 35-32 halftime lead into a 58-44 advantage with 11:02 left with his hot shooting and finished 10-of-14 from the field.
"It reaches a point where you don't realize how much you've scored," said Gill, whose previous career best was 18 points, most recently against Colorado State in the NIT quarterfinal round. "My teammates got me the ball in good positions to score."
The Golden Bears (21-11) advanced to Thursday night's final at Madison Square Garden against the winner of Tuesday's other semifinal between Xavier and Clemson.
Cal (21-11) went on a 17-5 run in the first 6:32 of the second half, with Gill scoring 11 points as the Golden Bears beat the Ducks for the first time after two losses in Pac-10 play this season.
"They beat us twice, and they beat us in our house and not too many teams have done that," Gill said. 'Then we went up there and they beat us bad. That motivated us."
When Gill finally cooled off, the Ducks were finished. Not even the 3-point shooting of Alex Scales could keep them in the game. Cal's biggest lead was 79-60 with 1:36 left after two foul shots by Thomas Kilgore.
Sean Lampley had 16 points, 12 in the first half, and Francisco Elson and Carl Boyd had 13 apiece for California. Terik Brown led Oregon with 16 points, A.D. Smith had 14 and Scales 12, including two 3-pointers in the second half.
Both Smith and Scales tried to handle Gill, but neither could do the job.
"He got going and we really didn't have any answer for him," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said of Gill. "He got a real good rhythm going and we couldn't shut him down."
The 19,500-seat Garden was three-quarters empty for the game, but the Cal fans had plenty to cheer about beginning late in the first half.
Thanks to a late 8-0 run, Cal led by three points at halftime. Elson's dunk with 57.3 seconds left capped the spurt and gave the Golden Bears a 33-30 lead.
Each team held a five-point lead in the first 20 minutes. Lampley scored 10 straight for Cal to put the Bears ahead 19-14 with 11:27 left.
Oregon countered with its two 7-footers, Mike Carson and Chris Christoffersen, and came back to take a 28-23 lead after Christoffersen's dunk with 4:25 remaining.
In the first two meetings between the teams, Oregon won at Oakland -- where the Bears played their home games this season -- 71-69 in overtime and 93-82 at Eugene in the regular-season finale.
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