Cal’s Joe Shipp put on a spectacular shooting display on Tuesday night, making a school record nine 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 31 points in leading the Bears to a 97-75 win over Fresno State.
Fresno State head coach Jerry Tarkanian couldn’t believe his eyes when Shipp made all six of his treys in the first half, then his next two in the second half before finally missing one to break the streak.
“We just studied the stat sheets, and we thought (Cal’s) one weakness was not being a good outside shooting team,” said Tarkanian, who is in his 36th year of coaching college basketball. “(Shipp) just shot the lights out. Whenever he made another one, I figured he’d get cold eventually, but he kept making them.”
Shipp did eventually cool off, air-balling two of his next three long-range attempts before banking his final one in, but by then the Bears were too far ahead for the Bulldogs to do anything. Shipp hit three 3-pointers during a 28-5 run for Cal in the first half that left them with a 52-32 lead at halftime, and Tark’s team never got back in the game.
Shipp’s bombs included three from beyond NBA range, but he was quick to recognize his teammates for getting him the ball in good position to shoot. Guards Shantay Legans and Dennis Gates combined for 17 assists and were perfectly willing to give the ball up to the white-hot Shipp.
“My teammates were looking for me and set me up with some nice passes,” Shipp said. “Shantay was pushing the ball well, bringing up the tempo of the game. I was feeling good, so I just let it go.”
Legans, who also scored 12 points, had to shake off an early case of stomach trouble. During a timeout early in the opening period, the junior point guard hurdled the Cal bench and threw up into a courtside garbage can. But he came back strong, hitting two 3-pointers of his own during the Bears’ run.
“I think I just got something bad at the training table,” Legans said. “It was just in and out of me. It didn’t really affect my play.”
Fresno State struggled to score with star Melvin Ely benched due to possible NCAA rules violations, and leading scorer Chris Jefferies didn’t help by starting slowly, scoring just 3 points in the first half. Though he finished with 21 points, Jefferies clearly missed having the low-post presence of Ely to take some pressure off of him.
“Melvin’s our star, so it’s hard to play without him,” said Bulldog center Hiram Fuller, who scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. “He just takes up so much space and draws so much attention.”
But Ely likely couldn’t have stopped the Bears’ outside shooting. Wingman Brian Wethers took over where Shipp left off, hitting 3-of-3 from behind the arc in the second half and scoring 14 points. Freshman forward Jamal Sampson also scored 15 points for the Bears.