By Morris Phillips
BERKELEY–For the first time in more than a decade, both UCLA and USC have victories at Haas Pavilion in the same season. And with the Cal Bears still struggling to find their footing against Pac-12 competition, neither the Bruins or Trojans had to sweat.
UCLA got their opportunity to take advantage of the Bears on Saturday afternoon, and did so from the opening tip, racing to a 13-2 to advantage on their way to a 107-84 win, featuring a season-best 13 made three-pointers. The 107 points and 17 threes were both season-bests for the Bruins, while the defenseless Bears allowed at least 90 points in a game for the sixth time this season.
Thomas Welsh led the Bruins with 19 points, 14 rebounds despite playing with a protective mask for the first time following a collision with Stanford’s Reid Travis on Thursday. Aaron Holiday added 21 points and freshman Kris Wilkes had 16 as six Bruins scored in double figures. UCLA bounced back from a crushing double overtime loss at Stanford on Thursday with 58 percent shooting from the floor against Cal.
“That’s key especially playing on the road in the Pac 12,” Welsh said. “You have to get ahead early and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
The Bears were led by Justice Sueing with 22 points, and Marcus Lee with 19 points, 15 rebounds. But the home team’s offense was absent in UCLA’s quick start, as Cal shot just 26 percent in the first half while falling behind 54-33.
“We try to put the best lineup out there to give us the best fight, give us the best chance from the start of the game,” coach Wyking Jones said. “You see me juggling the lineups a bit, so we can put guys out there that will bring it from the start. It’s just a situation that for some reason, we don’t have good starts. We weren’t aggressive in the first half, we didn’t look to attack the zone like we did in the second half.”
The Bears (7-9, 1-2 in Pac-12 play) dropped two at home after winning four of five, including their stirring comeback at Stanford last week. Unlike their tentative effort against Trojans, the Bears were scrappy and determined, making a brief, second half run that cut UCLA’s lead to 13 at one point. But the Bruins seized control again, by making 9 of 11 from distance in the second half to pull away.
The Bears travel to Seattle on Thursday to meet Washington. It will mark the Bears’ second trip to the Emerald City in less than a month, after an earlier road win over Seattle University.