Offense evaporates after halftime, Cal loses at home to No. 18 Arizona

December 31, 2016

Cal Bears, NCAA


Arizona’s Rawle Alkins, left, shoots as California’s Ivan Rabb defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

By Morris Phillips

Ideally, opponents visiting Haas Pavilion that get kicked to the floor upon arrival shouldn’t then be offered a hand up.

But that’s exactly what coach Cuonzo Martin felt transpired as his Bears squandered an early 13-point lead in a 67-62 loss to No. 18 Arizona.

After baffling the Wildcats (12-2, 1-0) with an active defense in the opening 20 minutes, the Bears allowed a big Arizona run to open the second half, then couldn’t keep up offensively in their second, consecutive loss at home following a school-record, 27-game home win streak.

“I just think that, simply, guys that were defending the ball didn’t take pride in defending.  That’s what happened in the second half.  It’s that simple,” Martin said.

After holding Arizona to 26 points in the first half, the Bears allowed 41 in the second, as Cal’s own missed shots may have contributed to the turnaround as much as the defensive indifference that bothered Martin.  The Bears made just nine baskets after halftime, the majority of those in two runs that got Cal close, but not even.

Cal wiped out Arizona’s 41-36 lead with a run led by Ivan Rabb, who finished with team-best 16 points and 16 rebounds. But Arizona’s Chase Comanche answered back with a three-point play to give Arizona the lead for good with 10:33 remaining.

In the game’s final minutes, Jabari Bird’s 3-point basket got Cal within 66-62, but after Bird’s 3-point miss on the ensuing possession, Cal would get no closer.

Cal missed 24 of their 33 shot attempts in the second half as Arizona rallied. Outside of Rabb and Bird, the other seven Bears to see action also missed 24 of 33 shot attempts.

7’0″ center Dusan Ristic led Arizona with 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Rangy freshman guard Kobi Simmons keyed the Wildcats’ second half rally and finished with 14 points, three assists. All but five of Arizona’s 67 points came from their starters.

Charlie Moore’s struggles to find consistentcy as a freshman with fewer than 15 collegiate games under his belt continued against Arizona.  The lead guard scored 12 points, but missed nine of his 12 shot attempts. Moore finished with four assists, but four of Cal’s 10 turnovers as well.

The Bears (9-4, 0-1) turn their attention to Arizona State, Sunday evening’s opponent who lost at Stanford on Friday.  The Sun Devils are the only unranked opponent for Cal during this challenging, five-game stretch bridging non-conference and conference play.





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