ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA -- It will be an all-Northern California final in the DirecTV Classic.
Justin Cobbs scored 17 points, and Richard Solomon got six of his 12 points down the stretch to help fuel a pivotal rally for the California Golden Bears, who beat Georgia Tech 68-57 on Friday night to advance to the championship game.
Cal's opponent Sunday will be Pacific, which beat St. Mary's 76-66 earlier Friday and topped Xavier 70-67 in Thursday's first-round game. The Bears got to the semifinal round with a 73-70 win over Drake.
"Pacific has probably played the best of anybody here, so it's going to be a tough game," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "They're really executing. I think in some people's minds, they would look at those two wins as surprising. I've known Bob Thomason forever and he's a great coach. He's had the advantage of taking his team on a summer tour, which gave him 10 additional practices and a bunch of extra games. So I think they're probably further ahead than any team in this tournament, in terms of their ability to perform at a high level."
Allen Crabbe added 13 points and five assists for Cal, which is off to a 5-0 start. The 6-foot-6 guard, who came in averaging a team-high 23.8 points, shot only 4 for 13 against an inspired Georgia Tech defense. But his teammates - including Tyrone Wallace and Robert Thurman, who combined for 17 points off the bench - helped pick up the slack.
"Allen can help us in a lot of ways," Montgomery said. "I mean, if you decide to guard Allen and commit a second guy to him - or in some cases like the other night, maybe a third - we've got to have the ability to have other people involved. And we're learning how to do that.
"Allen gets frustrated, but tonight he ends up with five assists and a bunch of rebounds (five). So there's a lot of ways to skin a cat. Early on, I would have said if Allen goes 4 for 13 like tonight, then we probably don't have a chance to win."
Mfon Udofia had 16 points and Kammeon Holsey came off the bench to score 14 for Georgia Tech (3-1), which shot 39 percent from the field, was 2 of 15 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 41-29.
"We played very good California team," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "They have a couple of veterans that really make plays for them and we weren't able to respond. We were able to play with them for about 30 minutes, but we just didn't have enough. They hurt us on the glass, the offensive glass in particular, which eliminated any transition baskets that we needed to compete. Give them credit. They took it to us."
Neither team led by more than six points during a fast-paced first half that ended with Cal leading 34-33 on Robert Thurman's buzzer-beating dunk - his first points of the game.
Crabbe's layup with 12:31 left in the game snapped a 42-all tie and triggered a 12-2 run that helped Cal pull away to a 54-44 lead with 8:09 remaining. Cobbs had a fast-break dunk after stealing the ball from Robert Carter Jr. at the other end just 37 seconds after Crabbe's basket, and freshman guard Wallace - playing extra minutes because of Ricky Kreklow's foot injury - capped the deciding rally with a three-point play after Solomon made a layup and a pair of free throws.
"We played good defense for a stretch in the second half and got some stops," Montgomery said. "It was a good win. You're talking about an ACC team that had the 14th-best recruiting class in the country, which means they have talent. It's encouraging that we rebounded the way we did and figured some things out, in terms of how we have to play."
Crabbe and Wallace helped put it away with 3-pointers in the final 5:34 after the Bears had missed 11 of their first 12 attempts from behind the arc. Since the start of last season, Georgia Tech is 0-20 when trailing with 5 minutes remaining.
Cal scored the game's first six points and maintained its lead until Holsey pumped in nine straight Georgia Tech points in a 2:53 span to help the Yellow Jackets tie it at 17 with 10:48 left in the half.
A couple of sloppy turnovers by Cobbs and Crabbe on back-to-back possessions resulted in a go-ahead three-point play by Carter off a fast break. Another fast-break layup by Udofia gave Tech a 22-17 lead with 9:43 left before intermission and convinced Cal Montgomery to call a much-needed timeout.
Cal is 3-0 all-time against Georgia Tech, with the other two meetings coming a day apart in December 1950.