Bears tie school-record win streak at home with wire-to-wire win over UC Davis

December 11, 2016

Cal Bears, NCAA


By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–For a team that led by 21 points at halftime, and won by 25—for a record-tying 26th consecutive time at home—the Cal Bears had issues on Saturday night.  Not big issues, but issues for a young team that has challenges looming and needs to improve to meet them.

Even mercurial, freshman guard Charlie Moore had problems holding on to the ball.  Moore committed five turnovers in Cal’s 86-61 win over UC Davis, although that was about the extent of his struggles.  Moore again led Cal, playing a team-high 33 minutes, scoring 22 points with four assists and four steals.  And with the pressure of the halftime buzzer present, Moore went spectacular, rivaling anything crosstown star Steph Curry has pulled off in recent times.

Off an undervalued pass from Sam Singer that evaded an Aggie defender, Moore—seemingly in one motion—caught Singers’ pass and turned and fired a 50-foot banker that not only looked good, but was good.  Moore then finished it off with a little showmanship, even starting his celebration a split second early ala Curry.

“It felt good when I released it,” Moore said. “That’s why I followed through and ran down the court with it.”

Moore’s banker was the crescendo to Cal’s hot night of shooting in which they shot 69 percent from the field after halftime, and 56 percent for the game.  While UC Davis’ defense wasn’t confounding, their offensive game was—especially early in the second half when they briefly trimmed Cal’s lead to 14.  That stretch claimed Cal star Ivan Rabb, who picked up his fourth foul.  Then a few minutes later, Jabari Bird left the game, appearing to favor his back, which cost him six consecutive games recently.

“I thought UC Davis in the second half really started imposing their will and driving the ball, playing hard and making plays at the rim, showing off what they really do well,” Coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought in the first half we did a great job at taking away those passing lanes and not giving a lot of options for their perimeter guys to make those plays, and in the second half we gave up a little bit.”

The Bears played their fourth game in seven days on Saturday night–including their trip to Hawaii, where they beat Princeton, and narrowly lost to Seton Hall—and maybe the accompanying fatigue contributed to their uneven effort.  Along with the team’s hot shooting, they committed 17 turnovers and allowed UC Davis to shoot 51 percent in the second half.  But you can only nitpick so much with a team that’s won eight of its 10 games despite a slew of injuries and the resulting issues with continuity.

While Rabb fouled out, and Bird didn’t play well (1 0f 6 shooting) before he departed gingerly, lesser known Bears picked up the slack.  Grant Mullins—always in attack mode—shot 6 for 7 and scored 17 points in 22 minutes off the bench.  Cole Welle, in his most significant action as a collegian, contributed 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting.  And Roger Moute A Bidias–the Bear most affected by whether Bird is available or not—started and contributed nine points and two rebounds in just 14 minutes.

“I think it’s huge,” Mullins said of how he and others stepped up in support of Cal’s stars. “Obviously, those guys (Ivan and Jabari) are so talented that when they’re off a little bit or they’re being doubled, other guys can step up, that’s huge for us going forward.”

In the coming weeks, the Bears will face ACC contender Virginia and ranked Pac-12 power Arizona at home, both sure to challenge Cal’s home dominance.  Also, the first conference road trip of the new year brings the Bears to Los Angeles, where they’ll face suddenly red-hot UCLA, undefeated and ranked No. 2 nationally this week behind uber talented guard Lonzo Ball.

But for now, the Bears can bask in the accomplishment of extending their home streak to 26, equaling the school-record established by the ’59-’60 National Championship team.  While the opponents during their streak haven’t always been top notch, the Bears have performed, and the streak includes them running the table at home in conference play last season.  For that, Martin, said they should be proud.

“It’s been since 1960,” Martin said. “That’s a long time ago, and to be a part of that is incredible. We still want to win home games, protect our court and there’s still work to be done, but in most cases with players, these streaks and such don’t set in until the players leave the school, years later, because right now you’re still competing and trying to win games.”

The Bears have a week off to finish the semester and take final exams, then they return to Haas Pavilion next Saturday with a chance to establish a new school-record streak when they face Cal Poly at 5pm.


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