Perrantes, Guy lead No. 12 Virginia past upset-minded Cal snapping school-record, home winning streak

December 22, 2016

Cal Bears, NCAA

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By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–In a game this close, this low-scoring, experience and shot making often spell the difference.  Those two factors weighed heavily for No. 12 Virginia on Wednesday at Haas Pavilion as they squeezed past upset-minded Cal, 56-52.

Senior London Perrantes provided the experience for the Cavaliers with his smart decisions with the ball and 14 points, three assists. Freshman Kyle Guy contributed the shot making with nine of his game-high 17 points in the game’s final 6:12, not including the critical assist to teammate Isaiah Wilkins, whose layup with 1:02 remaining gave Virginia the lead for good.

California coach Cuonzo Martin said of Guy, “we knew coming in that he was a talented player that makes tough shots down the stretch.  I thought we played good defense, but he just made better shots.”

With the loss, Cal’s school-record, home winning streak came to an end at 27.  The Bears lost for only the third time in 27 non-conference, home games under Martin.  In a game of runs and surges, the Bears didn’t have an answer to Virginia’s final push.

“It went down to the wire,” Martin said.  “We had some costly turnovers and lost some momentum.”

“You knew it was going to be physical, I told our guys this was going to be a good, old-fashioned knuckle-buster,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.  “That’s what we called it, and that’s really what it was.”

For Cal, their fortunes fell squarely on their three most prominent players, starting with pre-season All-American Ivan Rabb.  The 6’10” forward stayed out of foul trouble, playing a season-best 38 minutes while grabbing a game-best 12 rebounds.  But while facing persistent double teams in the post, and manning a smaller lineup minus 7’0″ center Kingsley Okoroh down the stretch, Rabb fought all the physical battles while attempting just four shots and finishing with nine points.

Jabari Bird, in just his fifth game since returning from injury, led Cal with 15 points, but he needed 15 shots to get there. Overall, the Bears struggled from distance, missing seven of their first eight 3-point attempts, and 18 of 23 for the game.  With Virginia’s physical defenders pushing the Cal offense further out on the floor, the missed shots from distance came back to haunt the Bears.

And while Virginia’s freshman guard, Guy, excelled, Cal’s Charlie Moore did not, missing 11 of his 14 shots with four turnovers.  Martin described Moore’s night as a learning experience for the freshman who projects as one the team’s most prominent players going forward.

“Charlie, as talented as he is, was going against a senior, and all you can do is learn by playing against better players,” Martin said. ” He’ll begin to understand what it takes and how to take care of the ball, attack the ball screens, push through the game.”

Turnovers keyed Virginia’s 12-2 run early in the second half that put them up 40-31 with 12:31 remaining.  But Cal answered right back with a 9-0 run to tie it, setting up the close, tense final minutes.

There were 11 ties and eight lead changes in the ballgame.

Perrantes, the former Los Angeles prep star, and the only California-reared player on the Cavaliers’ roster, played in front of 30 friends and family in the stands.  The senior was a familiar face to Cal players and coaches, his 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of overtime last year at Charlottesville stood as the decider in that game.

GAME NOTES: Leon Powe, Richard Midgely and Omar Wilkes were among the Cal basketball alumni in attendance.

The Bears open conference play a week from Friday at home against Pac-12 contender No. 18 Arizona.  Virginia opens ACC play on December 28 at No. 11 Louisville.

 

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