By Morris Phillips
BERKELEY, CA–This is the low point for California basketball. They can only go up from here.
Or can they?
The Bears suffered a fifth straight loss to start the season at Haas Pavilion on Monday against a smaller opponent from a lesser conference. It’s a reoccurring theme for sure, one the Bears can’t seem to escape.
This is the first time in the history of the program–115 years and counting–that the Bears have been 0-5.
Texas State blew in to Berkeley on Monday, frustrated the they couldn’t close the deal at UT-San Antonio on Thursday, when they were logically unable to make their meager 56 points stand up on the road.
The answer? Stop through Berkeley on the way to Hawaii for Thanksgiving and do a just a little more than they did at UTSA.
Guess what? That strategy worked.
Cal committed 16 turnovers and the Bobcats from the Southland Conference took a 23-22 lead four minutes before halftime and never relinquished it in their 59-55 win.
Again, the hosts didn’t execute anything with force, and went the final five minutes before halftime with scoring. Coach Mark Fox cited his limited options at both guard spots and last minute role changes that left his team less than prepared.
“We’re so disjointed with the lineups we’ve been forced to play,” Fox said.
Once again, only two, traditional guards played for Cal as Devin Askew led the Bears with 17 points, but missed 10 of his 15 shots, and Joel Brown went scoreless off the bench with five turnovers.
Overall, the hosts weren’t a mess statistically, but their deliberate pace produced 55 points, which is more often than not just enough to get you beat at the Division I level. After leading for much of the first half the Bears trailed by as many as 11 points after the break.
Senior guard, and two-time, All-Conference selection Mason Harrell led Texas State with 21 points and all the heady plays down the stretch as Cal got within two points of the lead with 26 seconds remaining.
Brandon Davis added 14 for the Bobcats.
“It’s how you respond, I’m so proud of all those guys in the locker room. They truly responded.” associate head coach Benny Seltzer said.
The win was the first for Texas State over a Power 5 school since 1998, and their first ever over a Pac-12 opponent. Earlier this season, the Bobcats also won at Rhode Island.
The Bears travel to Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday where they will face TCU on Friday, and either Iowa or Clemson on Saturday.