Cal comes up short in Pac-12 semis; NIT bid likely after loss to top-seeded Oregon

March 11, 2017

Cal Bears, NCAA

AP17070114278873

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By Morris Phillips

In the estimation of all the NCAA tournament prognosticators, Cal needed to win Friday night against top-seeded Oregon to gain one of the 68 coveted invitations to March Madness.

Now that the Bears have dropped three straight to the Pac-12 regular season champs, and beaten just one Top 50 opponent in eight tries, Coach Cuonzo Martin and his Bears were reduced to their belief that they still belong despite their 11th loss of the season on Friday night.

“I think we’re an NCAA tournament team. Now it’s for them to decide,” coach Cuonzo Martin said.

“For me, I really don’t care what they say. I’m not going to assume what they say. For me, it’s a whole season, so it’s a body of work.  If that’s not good enough, that’s not good enough. I didn’t go into this game thinking we had to win to get into the NCAA tournament.”

If the Bears find the committee to be kind, then Cal’s ability to compete with the highly-ranked Ducks despite losing leading scorer Jabari Bird in the game’s first minute will be cited. Bird left the court holding his head after a hard fall, and was thought to have suffered a concussion.

In Bird’s absence, senior Grant Mullins contributed 23 points, and Charlie Moore continued his strong tournament with 15 points, three assists in 35 minutes of action. The Bears so-so 43 percent shooting as a team held up as they didn’t turn the ball over or lose Ivan Rabb to fouls (Rabb played 36 minutes, and committed just two fouls).

Tyler Dorsey led four Oregon double-figure scorers with 23 points, and came up with the critical three-point play in the final minute after Cal trimmed the Ducks’ lead to two.  Dylan Ennis scored 16 points, converting all nine of his free throw attempts.

The Bears qualified for the conference semifinals for the second year in a row, but failed to make it to the finals for only the fourth time in school history.

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