Cal outclassed by Colorado in an 89-60 road loss

By Morris Phillips

Early on, it appeared as if the Rocky Mountains and early tip times suited the Cal Bears just fine.

Andre Kelly set up shop near the basket and was enjoying a thriving business. Makale Foreman was Mr. Inside and Outside, and Jalen Celestine–in his most impactful minutes as a Bear to date–was making plays at both ends.

Three consecutive baskets by Foreman gave the Bears an 18-11 lead over host Colorado, who looked ill suited for the high noon start on a Thursday.

But that moment was as good as would get. Colorado coach Tad Boyle called a timeout, his Buffs responded with eight quick points to regain the lead, the Bears wobbled, and soon found themselves saddled with a 89-60 loss.

What transpired in that timeout? According to McKinley Wright IV, Colorado’s unquestioned leader and one of the best players in the Pac-12, Boyle implored his team to stop Foreman, who scored 10 of Cal’s first 18 points.

“We talked about it in the scouting report yesterday and talked about it today in pregame that when he is dribbling with his left hand he is a really good shooter,” Wright said of Foreman. “He made three in a row like that. Coach got on us about it and ever since then we didn’t look back.”

While the Buffs focused on the finer points of their scouting report, the Bears unraveled. Unable to buy a basket in a 23-2 Colorado run that closed the first half, then defensively as the Buffs scored 55 points in the second half, Cal was simply outclassed.

“We couldn’t get stops,” coach Mark Fox admitted. “Obviously, we’re disjointed offensively with the lineups we’re forced to play. That part is a little frustrating. But defensively, we just did not get the job done.”

Repeatedly, Colorado broke Cal utilizing a high screen that yielded clear paths to the basket, and plenty of time and space for spot up shooters.

Plenty of time.

Wright racked up 11 assists, breaking the school record for assists in a career in the process, and Colorado knocked down 12 3-pointers on 21 attempts. Their 59 percent shooting after halftime turned the game into a rout, with the Bears trailing by as many as 31 points.

The Bears again played without Matt Bradley, who joined his teammates on the trip, but missed his fifth, consecutive game. This time, Cal missed their leading scorer at both ends of the floor.

“He’s a physical presence defensively,” Fox said. “He’s a good rebounder. Obviously, he’s our leading scorer. Certainly we miss him.”

Four of Cal’s six conference losses have been by 11 points or more. Thursday’s 29-point margin was their worst outcome of the season.

Cal (6-8, 1-6) visits Utah on Saturday night. The Utes defeated Stanford 79-65 in a game that also got the Pac-12 matinee treatment.

Bears Breakthrough: Cal wins a Pac-12 clash, 84-78 over Washington

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Needing a Pac-12 victory in the worst way, the Bears didn’t squander the opportunity.

In a matchup of the conference’s bottom dwellers, the Bears looked like contenders in shooting their way past Washington, 84-78 at Haas Pavilion.

The Bears finished the game on a 9-3 run after it was tied at 75 a piece with 2:18 remaining. Throughout the Bears relied on their offense, shooting 55 percent from the floor while burying 11 3-pointers.

“Offensively we got the ball in the paint when we needed to in the first half,” coach Mark Fox said. “We made a bunch of threes in the second, and it ends up being a real good win.”

“We couldn’t get stops,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. “We didn’t execute down the stretch what we wanted to do.”

The Huskies were picked ninth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, the Bears tenth. But UW’s top returner Nahziah Carter was suspended due to sexual impropriety allegations and subsequently withdrew from school. Cal has dealt with injuries, most significantly with leading scorer Matt Bradley missing his fourth game on Saturday. Both teams came in 0-5 in conference play with seven of the 10 combined losses by double digits.

With the speculation that one of the two teams could go winless in conference growing, both teams played with renewed vigor. But Cal’s offense lasted longer while the Huskies suffered too many lapses defensively.

“The three-point shot for certain players we allowed to happen,” Hopkins said. “And that’s the result you get when you don’t execute what you’re supposed to execute.”

While Andre Kelly was flawless in the paint, leading Cal with 22 points, the graduate connection of Ryan Betley and Makale Foreman took advantage from distance with eight combined made threes.

With that trio cooking from the opening tip, the Bears built an eight-point halftime lead that they expanded to 13 (45-32) with 18:01 remaining. While the Huskies may have little continuity and diminished confidence at this point, they dug deep and battled Cal for the remainder of the second half only to come up short.

Erik Stevenson scored 15 of his team-high 27 after the break with a huge assist from Jamal Bey, who had 18 with 11 of those after halftime. With those two leading the way, the Huskies–with some of the worst shooting numbers among any of the Power 5 schools–belied their statistics by shooting 52 percent from the floor.

But in the final 2:18 Cal took control. Joel Brown hit a 3-pointer to break the 75-75 tie, then on the next possession Brown cruised in for a layup. Between the two buckets by Brown, Betley came up with a huge blocked shot in the paint on UW’s Quade Green with Brown then grabbing the rebound. Leading 80-75, the Bears closed the door.

On tap next the Bears’ ski trip has them at Colorado on Wednesday and Utah on Saturday.

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca: Cal’s lack of Bradley in the line up fall short against WSU

The Cal Bears couldn’t keep up with the Washington State Cougars in the second half of Thu Jan 7, 2021’s game at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley as Cal loses it’s seventh game of the season (image from @CalMBBall)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Michael:

#1 Michael Cal (5-7) had suffered it’s third straight loss and last night the latest to the Washington State Cougars (9-1) one of the winningest teams in the Pac 12.

#2 One player that Cal had a hard time shutting down was Cougars guard Issac Bonton who led with 21 points, he took advantage of having a hot hand and being able to take his shot.

#3 The Cougars had three players in double figures, Bonton, center Efe Abogidi who finished second with 12 points and guard Noah Williams with 11 points. The way the Cougars have been on offense even three players in double figures could spell doom.

#4 Cal badly misses Matt Bradley they also had three players in double figures but low double figures with Andre Kelly 11 points, Lars Thiemann and Ryan Betley both had ten points but trying to keep up with the Cougars proved too much in the second half as the Cougars were up by eight and won the game by nine.

#5 It’s a Saturday 12 noon lunch time special at Haas Pavilion this Saturday as the Cal Bears hope to turn the page on Thursday night’s loss as they meet the Washington Huskies (1-8) but they’re not in last place the Cal Bears who have won five games are 0-5 in the conference and are in last place in the Pac 12 standings.

Michael Duca does Cal Bears podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca Fri Jan 8, 2021 by Sports Radio Service | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Washington State’s effective defense keeps Cal winless against Pac-12 competition, 71-60

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Two developing clubs devoid of blue chip athleticism or the confidence that comes with experience aren’t going to deliver a college basketball masterpiece in a Haas Pavilion populated by empty seats.

Instead of extended bombast punctuated with fastbreaks, think stringing together quality possessions, starting with two or three.

Washington State embraced the mundane far better than Cal in locking down on defense and hitting open shots in a 71-60 win on Thursday night.

The Cougars still don’t have a marquee win but improved to 9-1. The Bears fell to 5-7 and are still looking for their first Pac-12 victory.

The Bears played without leading scorer Matt Bradley but welcomed back Grant Anticevich, who showed some rust after an appendectomy two weeks ago. That combination contributed to Cal’s tepid 34 percent shooting from the floor, but coach Mark Fox expressed greater disappointment in his team’s effort on the glass.

“I was really disappointed in how we rebounded the ball,” Fox said of the 45-28 difference on the backboards.

The Bears weathered WSU’s 15-2 run towards the end of the first half to climb within 31-28 at the break, only to see the Cougars take control again in the opening minutes of the second half. Noah Williams’ layup gave WSU a 51-36 lead with 12:14 remaining. That gap proved insurmountable with the Bears missing shots while battling WSU’s length and aggressiveness.

“It’s harder for us to score without Matt, but we’ve got to find a way to manufacture some points,” Fox said.

The Bears were led by Andre Kelly with 11 points. Ryan Betley and Lars Thiemann each added 10 points, but Makale Foreman, Cal’s most likely offensive source in Bradley’s absence was 1 for 7 from distance and finished with 7 points.

Isaac Boyton led all scorers with 22 points, and versatile freshman Efe Abogidi added 12 points and nine rebounds to aid Washington State.

The Bears host Washington at Haas on Saturday at noon.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Cal can’t hold Beavers in second half rally at OSU

Cal Bears had a good first half but the defense let down in the second half at Oregon State University on Sat Jan 2, 2021 as the Bears lose to the Beavers (calbears.com photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris, Cal (5-6) has had some strong first halves but in the second half at Oregon State (5-3) the Beavers rallied back down from 12 points down for a 73-64 win.

#2 The Beavers Ethan Thompson led with 16 points and Maurice Calloo 14 points, Calloo scored all his points in the second half.

#3 How much of a let down did Cal’s defense leave behind in that second half the Beavers were down but it just seemed like the Bears couldn’t stop the Beavers.

#4  What was amazing about a game like this the Beavers had only one coach on the bench Wayne Tinkle while assistants Kerry Rupp, Marlon Stewart, and Stephen Thompson as well as Beavers center Roman Silva due to Covid 19 tests.

#5 Cal scoring leader Matt Bradley suffered an left ankle injury and he left the game with 3:31 remaining in the first half. Bradley came back wearing a boot and on crutches while cheering his team on.

Join Morris for Cal game recaps following each home and away games at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips Mon Jan 4, 2021 by Sports Radio Service | Free Listening on SoundCloud

 

 

Cal blows double-digit lead in search of their first Pac-12 win, loses Bradley to injury

By Morris Phillips

Oregon State trailed Cal for 32 minutes Saturday afternoon but finished the game on a 10-1 run to beat the visiting Bears, 73-64.

The surprising outcome in which Cal blew a 11-point lead with less than 17 minutes remaining to remain winless in Pac-12 competition at 0-4 came amid the backdrop of COVID absences for Oregon State and the early departure of Cal’s leading scorer Matt Bradley with an ankle injury.

“We really had a difficult time without Matt,” said coach Mark Fox, who watched Bradley limp off three minutes before halftime. “Even though we played without him a week ago, it’s little harder against Pac-12 competition. That being said, if we make our free throws, we win the game. So disappointed in our performance at the free-throw line, and obviously in the second half we didn’t play nearly as well as we need to play to win on the road.”

The Bears shot 63 percent in establishing a 36-26 halftime lead, but saw their shooting cool considerably in the second half. More damaging was Cal’s defense which allowed 43 of OSU’s 73 points in the final 17 minutes, and their awful free throw shooting (14 of 28).

Ethan Thompson led OSU with 16 points. Maurice Calloo added 14 points, all of which came after halftime. Calloo’s third 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining increased the Beavers’ lead to 68-63.

Oregon State played without center Roman Silva and three assistant coaches due to COVID protocols which left the Beavers thin inside and head coach Wayne Tinkle no coaches to interact with. The COVID issues caused OSU’s game against Stanford on Thursday to be postponed until this Monday afternoon.

Makale Foreman, Andre Kelly and Jarred Hyder each tallied 12 points to lead Cal (5-6, 0-4). Foreman’s 3-pointer got Cal even, 63-63 with 3:22 remaining but Cal would manage just one made free throw after that as OSU took control.

The Bears lost for the second time at Gill Coliseum, having lost to the Beavers on November 25 in a hastily-arranged non-conference game. This one was much more competitive, but left greater frustration. The Bears likely will be without their top two scorers, Bradley and Grant Anticevich (appendectomy) for an indefinite period. Along with their issues against conference teams, they could be in for a continued rough stretch.

“It’s a challenge at both ends,” Fox said.

The Bears return to Berkeley with games against the Washington schools in the coming week.

REVISITING CAL’S RECENT PAST: The Bears welcomed Coach Mark Fox less than two years ago. At the same time, former coach Wyking Jones, and scholarship athletes Justice Sueing, Connor Vanover and Darius McNeill departed.

Two seasons prior to that shakeup coach Cuonzo Martin accepted a significant raise to coach the Missouri Tigers and leave Cal.

So what’s everybody up to?

On Saturday Martin’s 12th-ranked Tigers visited Arkansas, Vanover’s landing spot under coach Eric Musselman. Missouri kept things rolling with a 81-68 win to improve to 7-1. Martin’s fourth season in Columbia appears to be his best yet with the Tigers ranked and looking to make a second NCAA tournament appearance after two losing seasons.

And Vanover? Well he suffered his worst game, shooting 0 for 11 with just four points from the foul line. The 7’3″ center is averaging 9.6 ppg in 20 minutes for the Razorbacks.

After starting at Cal, McNeill is coming off the bench at SMU. The Mustangs have played just six games due to COVID issues, and McNeill missed one of those, but he had his best game earlier this week against Temple with 17 points.

Sueing saw action in all 63 games as a freshman and sophomore at Cal, averaging 14 ppg shooting 43 percent from the floor. But he seems better situated at No. 25 Ohio State as a starter on a far better and more balanced team scoring 11 ppg with 50 percent shooting. His minutes are down, but his wins are way up. In two seasons at Cal, Sueing, Vanover and McNeill were 16-47 with 31 Pac-12 losses.

Jones, the coach of those two Cal teams, remains on the sidelines, opting not to take any other coaching jobs after being let go by Cal with one season remaining on his deal.

Cal Bears podcast with Michael Duca: Bears couldn’t hold their own in second half lose to Ducks 82-69

The Oregon Ducks were taking to the hoop in the second half with a 46-34 difference on the Cal Bears at Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon on Thu Dec 31, 2020 (USA Today photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Michael:

#1 Michael, in the first half action of Cal’s (5-5) game against the Oregon Ducks (7-1) the Bears looked like they might make an interesting game of it trailing the Ducks just by a point at the half 36-35.

#2 The Bears Matt Bradley returned after missing two games and suffering an injury. Bradley led the Bears with 21 points at Matthew Knight Arena on New Year’s eve.

#3 The Bears Makale Forman in spite of the loss had a hot hand with 14 points and four three pointers. You got to like what he brings to the Cal offense.

#4 The Ducks had a second half surge outscoring Cal 46-34 and the Ducks top scorer Eugene Omoruyi led the Ducks with 26 points Omoruyi was a huge contributor towards keeping the Bears from playing catch up.

#5 The Bears head to Oregon State to face the Beavers. The Beavers had their game against Stanford on Thursday night canceled due to Covid-19 testing results and contact tracing issues. The Bears hope for the Beavers to be healthy and ready for Sat Jan 2nd’s game tell us how you see this match up.

Join Michael for the Cal Bears podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

No. 21 Oregon methodically (and patiently) dismantles Cal, 82-69

By Morris Phillips

The Oregon Ducks don’t have a center or frontline size typical of Power 5 teams. They also don’t have a traditional point guard. And they came into Thursday’s contest with Cal lacking continuity as their previous game against UCLA was canceled due to COVID concerns.

What they do have is loads of talent directed by record-setting coach Dana Altman, which makes them a problem, an assessment with which the Bears would certainly agree.

The Ducks afforded Cal some open looks early which translated into one seven-point lead in the first half and a four-point lead early in the second half. But that was it, after Cal’s second lead the No. 21 Ducks responded in a big way while coasting to a 82-69 win.

“I thought the first half we played really confidently and we competed well throughout the night,” Bears coach Mark Fox said. ”In the second half, we just had a drought. We put so much pressure on our defense.”

Matt Bradley returned to the Cal lineup after missing two games and put up an efficient 21 points to pace his team. But as the game progressed Oregon’s defense did too, eventually shutting down Bradley and others while forcing a slew of turnovers, with nine of Cal’s 17 giveaways after halftime.

Eugene Omoruyi was the central figure in discombobulating Cal with five steals to go with a game-best 26 points. Despite being listed at 6’6″, Omoruyi was dominant inside, setting up shop near the baseline and attacking Cal at the basket relentlessly, so much so Cal’s 7-foot center Lars Thiemann fouled out in just 18 minutes of floor time.

“I thought Eugene did a lot of good things and the five steals – his activity there was really good,” said head coach Dana Altman. “He was really unstoppable inside.”

Without size or an offensive catalyst, the Ducks rely on their defense to create a bunch of good things. That took place Thursday, it just took basically a half to materialize which may have been due to the Ducks’ unusually long 11-day layoff.

Over the final 12:45, Oregon stretched their narrow lead to 13 while limiting Cal to 20 points.

The Ducks won for the 27th consecutive time at Matthew Knight Arena, and beat Cal for the eight consecutive time dating back to February 2016. Altman kept his name moving up the all-time wins list for coaches with his 676th in 31 plus seasons at the Division I level. Next up in 22nd place with 677 wins, Altman will equal former Cal coach Mike Montgomery.

The Bears (5-5, 0-3) next play at Oregon State on Saturday, a team they’ve already lost to this season in early December. The Bears have a ceiling to break through with conference losses to Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon along with the loss to OSU that doesn’t count in the Pac-12 standings.

Cal Bears podcast with Morris Phillips: Bears coming off two home wins face Oregon New Years Eve

The Cal Bears Joel Brown (1) who scored 12 finished second in scoring as the Bears defeated the Seattle University Redhawks last Tue Dec 22 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley (calbears.com photo)

On the Cal Bears podcast with Morris:

#1 Morris the Bears did pick up two home wins defeating Cal Northridge on Sat 19th and Seattle U on Tue 22nd.

#2 In the latest win against Seattle the Bears Ryan Betley scored 17 points he’s one of the young transfer who proved to be a important factor in helping Cal out in scoring in accomplishing a win.

#3 Joel Brown had 12 points talk about his performance and will Cal head coach Mark Fox get the ball to Brown more often?

#4 Kuany Kuany also finished in double figures with 11 points it seemed like he got plenty of time to shoot against the Seattle defense as the Bears wound up getting a five point win.

#5 The Bears are at Oregon (6-1) on New Year’s eve on Thu Dec 31 and have won seven straight games and the Bears are at Oregon State (4-3) on Jan 2. The Beavers have won two of their last five games.

Join Morris Mondays for the Cal Bears podcasts at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Cal gets past Seattle U. in the game’s final minutes, 70-65

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Handpicked opponents with balky jump shots and limited confidence delivered to your main gym entrance at a moment’s notice?

Well, this isn’t Grubhub or Uber Eats, the Golden Bears can testify to that.

Instead of skating through the promenade entrance of the Conte Forum on the Boston College campus in near freezing temperatures, the Cal Bears heeded the words of their local medical experts, and spent Tuesday afternoon close to home at Haas Pavilion. After canceling with BC, the Redhawks from Seattle agreed to be Cal’s opponent in a hastily arranged matchup.

However, the Redhawks didn’t agree to be pliable or vulnerable–anything but.

Coach Jim Hayford saw his Redhawks lead for the game’s first 33 minutes only to go scoreless for five of the final six minutes allowing Joel Brown and the Bears to seize control in a 70-65 win.

“It came right down to the last four minutes and you have to credit Joel Brown,” Hayford said. “His two threes were clutch and  at the end of the shot clock after we played really good defense. He made the two winning plays that really were the difference in this game.”

The Bears again played without leading scorers Matt Bradley and Grant Anticevich. That meant others had to step up and Brown, Kuany Kuany along with Ryan Betley answered the call.

Betley led the Bears with 17 points, but Kuany’s contribution (11 points tying his career best) was a welcome surprise as was Brown’s star turn down the stretch.

With the shot clock almost expired, Brown hit a 3-pointer to put Cal up 60-59 with 3:31 remaining. Then after both teams fell into neutral offensively for several possessions, Brown struck again with a three that put Cal up 63-59 with 2:01 remaining.

“Those were huge baskets for us, no question about it,” coach Mark Fox said of Brown.

Brown’s baskets were part of a 10-0 run that saw the Bears go from down two to up eight with 31 seconds to go.

In the closing run, reliable Redhawks Riley Grigsby (20 points, son of former Cal standout Alfred Grigsby), Emeka Udenyi (prepped at De La Salle Concord) and Darrion Trammell (St. Ignatius San Francisco) missed big shots, ending what had been an impressive afternoon for the trio.

The Bears (5-4, 0-2) are over .500 for the first time in over a year. They next see action on New Years Eve at Oregon in a matchup with the conference favorite Ducks.