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Cal blows 26-point lead, still clips UC San Diego


Fardaws Aimaq capped a double-double performance with a bucket off a Jaylon Tyson feed with 1:49 remaining and California survived blowing a 26-point lead before edging UC San Diego 71-67 on Wednesday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

Aimaq finished with a team-high 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds as the Golden Bears (4-7) finally got the better of a team that had beaten them in each of the past two seasons.

Tyler McGhie had a game-high 20 points off the bench for the Tritons (6-6), who had opened a Northern California swing with an 83-52 romp at Sacramento State on Monday.

In its final tune-up before opening Pac-12 Conference play on Dec. 29 against No. 4 Arizona, Cal scored the game’s first 10 points and 21 of the first 23 to seemingly take control just over five minutes into the contest.

Down 34-8 at one point, UCSD battled all the way back to take a 56-55 lead on a Bryce Pope 3-pointer with 8:55 to go in the second half, setting up a tight finish in which the visitors led by as many as three.

Two free throws by Francis Nwaokorie had the Tritons within 63-61 with 2:11 to play before Tyson and Aimaq connected for the lead-extending basket.

Two free throws by Keonte Kennedy and one by Jalen Celestine in the final 20 seconds helped ice Cal’s fourth win in six home games this season.

Jalen Cone scored all 15 of his points on five 3-pointers for Cal, which connected on 45.5 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc, bettering the Tritons’ 33.3 percent clip from deep.

Kennedy finished with 10 points, six rebounds, a game-high-tying five assists, three steals and two blocks for the Golden Bears, while Tyson had 13 points and Celestine supplied 12.

Pope backed McGhie with 14 points for UCSD, which has split its past four games after winning its first four and losing its next four.

Emmanuel Tshimanga grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go with eight points for the Tritons, while Hayden Gray filled his stat line with eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

–Field Level Media

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