Keith Smith scored 24 points and California withstood a late rally by U.S. International to defeat the Gulls, 97-87, Tuesday night.
The Golden Bears (5-1) led by as many as 20 in the second half, but USIU (4-2) pulled to within 81-77 with 5:50 remaining.
Ray Fisher scored on a breakaway layup the next time down the floor and was intentionally fouled by Demitrius Laffitte. Fisher made two free throws and two more 30 seconds later to gave California a 87-77 lead with 4:44 left.
A 3-pointer by Steve Smith, his fourth of the night, pulled USIU within 91-84 with 1:03 left. Two seconds later Keith Smith’s two free throws made it 93-84.
Cal, which shot only 50 percent from the free throw line in the first half, made 16 of 17 in the second half. The Golden Bears made 7 of 11 shots from 3-point range in the first period, then went inside in the second period, making 12 of 14 shots from inside the key.
Keith Smith led the Bears with 24 points, Fisher and Brian Hendrick each had 23 and Ryan Drew 13.
Kevin Bradshaw scored 30 for U.S. International. Steve Smith had 20 and Lafitte 17.