photo by Cal Bears basketball
By Morris Phillips
Three wins and a 16-game losing streak to end the season will be the legacy of the 2023 Cal men’s basketball team.
The Bears fell 69-52 in Las Vegas in their opening round matchup against Washington State on Wednesday afternoon, ending a dreary season that marks the program’s unprecedented, sixth consecutive losing campaign.
The immediate focus falls on head coach Mark Fox, who is responsible for the most recent four seasons, none better than his first when Cal finished 14-18.
“We understand that there’s an expectation to be successful, and we didn’t do that this year, but most people who are sitting where you’re sitting now are never on the inside. They don’t know the things that we have to deal with that adminstrators and coaches and players do,” Fox said.
The expectation is that Fox will not be retained, and athletic director Jim Knowlton will move on to Tim Miles or Joe Pasternack, the two names most prominent in the coaching rumors.
The Bears didn’t receive any break in the matchups with WSU coming in on a six-game win streak. The Cougars didn’t shoot it well early, but Cal afforded them a 13-2 run before halftime, part of a 35-21 edge at the break.
The Bears again played at their plodding pace, a nod to their persistent injury issues in the backcourt. Their point total of 52 actually fell below their season average of 58.5, the lowest offensive output in 363-member Division I.
Monty Bowser led Cal with a career-best 19 points, but the 43-29 edge for WSU on the glass put the 12th-seeded Bears at an impossible disadvantage.
TJ Bamba led Washington State with 17 points, and three other WSU starters finished with 10 points. The Cougars will face Oregon on Thursday in the tournament’s quarterfinal round.