By Morris Phillips
The lead up to Thursday’s game wasn’t positive: the Cal community lost heralded coach Lou Campanelli, the architect of their mid-80’s resurgence, who directed the Bears to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 30 years.
Then, leading scorer Devin Askew, who ironically has yet to participate in a win at Cal, was declared out for the remainder of the season with a nagging, sports hernia injury.
On Thursday evening, the Colorado Buffaloes’ defense proved burdensome as well.
The Bears suffered three lengthy, second-half scoring droughts and bowed meekly to CU, 59-46. The loss was Cal’s sixth in a row following an encouraging, early January win over Stanford.
Colorado’s win is their sixth consecutive over Cal at the CU Events Center, and it interrupted a rough stretch for the hosts in which they dropped five of their previous six games.
The Bears reached halftime both leading (27-24) and struggling, as they went the final 2:38 before the break scoreless. That trend would continue as the Bears scored just 19 points the rest of the way.
“It’s a testament to their grit and their toughness and not letting that frustration on offense bleed over into defense,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “I’ve gotten on our guys about that at times this year when that’s happened, and tonight, it didn’t happen.”
The Bears shot just 37 percent from the floor and compiled a telling, nine assists. Leading scorer Kuany Kuany tallied 10 points but missed eight of his 10 shot attempts.
“We have to play with a tougher mentality on the road,” coach Mark Fox said. “We played about 25 good minutes, and then they made a run, and we collapsed for five or six minutes.”
Tristan da Silva led the hosts with 20 points and KJ Simpson added 10. Colorado gained revenge for their 80-76 loss at Berkeley on New Year’s Eve.
Cal’s road swing continues Saturday in Salt Lake City, where they will face Utah on Saturday.