Bears’ offense absent for long stretches in 71-52 loss at Santa Clara

By Morris Phillips

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Cal coach Mark Fox shook up his lineup on Saturday at Santa Clara in response to his team’s sluggish defensive effort at USF where they fell 76-64.

Then Fox watched his team’s offense wander off in a 71-52 loss to the Broncos at the Leavey Center.

Defensively, the only discernible difference was its credibility for the first 10 minutes with Paris Austin and Andre Kelly starting in place of Joel Brown and Lars Thiemann.

In the final 30 minutes, with their shots not falling, the defense waned. Leading scorer Matt Bradley lost his cool and drew a technical in the second half, and the Bears fell for a fourth time in five games, with all the losses away from Berkeley, and by double-digits.

“I felt like the frustration of the ball not going in the basket contributed maybe to our play on the other end,” Fox said. “I don’t think our defense was anywhere good enough the entire night.”

Guglielmo Caruso paced Santa Clara with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Three other Broncos scored in double figures including DJ Mitchell, the transfer from Wake Forest, who put up 13 off the bench.

The Broncos rode two, motivational factors for the win: they were embarrassed last year in a 78-66 loss to Cal at Haas Pavilion. And they saw their 9-1 record blemished on Wednesday in a 31-point loss to Nevada in Reno.

“We were really young,” Caruso said of the loss to Cal. “That experience from last year translated into this year and helped us to get this W.”

Playing in their backyard at the facilities of their mid-major neighbors gives Cal a badge of good will, but they know they have to be ready to play. Only their accurate free throw shooting (21 of 26) carried them on Saturday. Missing 35 of their 49 shots from the field did not. That poor marksmanship included only five made baskets in the first half.

Bradley led Cal with 14 points, Kareem South and Grant Anticevich added nine each. The Bears managed 10 steals, contributing to 20 SCU turnovers, but creating havoc didn’t morph into creating baskets.

The Bears now turn their attention to a date with Fresno State in Berkeley on Wednesday. The Bulldogs from the Mountain West acquitted themselves nicely Saturday by leading for long stretches at No. 25 Utah State before succumbing 77-70 in overtime.

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