By Morris Phillips
A sluggish start doomed the Cal Bears in their much-anticipated season opener against Oregon State.
After trailing by five at the half–and as many as 14 in the second half–the Bears’ late rally came up short in a 71-63 loss at Corvallis. Cal gets a quick turnaround with Northwest University up next at 3pm on Thursday also at Gill Coliseum.
The Bears and Beavers agreed to play each other in a rare non-conference matchup between Pac-12 foes just 48 hours earlier when Cal’s scheduled opponent, Colorado State was forced to withdraw from the multi-team event due to Coronavirus issues.
The Bears may have had a couple of more returning players than did OSU, but the Beavers had the more impactful newcomers as they controlled the glass and displayed better shot selection in a game the home team led throughout. Senior guard Ethan Thompson led OSU with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Nicholls transfer Warith Alatishe contributed 16 points to help Oregon State hold off Cal, who climbed within 67-62 with a 1:30 remaining but could get no closer.
The Bears got 21 points from Matt Bradley, who led Cal despite missing 11 of his 16 shot attempts from the floor. Transfer guard Makale Foreman was the only other Bear in double digits with 10.
Cal ran into trouble early, falling behind 10-4 on their way to missing 18 of their 30 field goal attempts before halftime. The Bears ran into more problems in the second half by shooting threes in an attempt to get back in the game, but missed 11 of 14.
The Beavers controlled the glass 43-32 to make up for their subpar 44 percent shooting. Reserve Rodrique Andela grabbed 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes off the bench. Jarod Lucas was OSU’s other bench contributor with 11 points in 24 minutes.
Freshman Monty Bowser and graduate transfer Ryan Betley made their Cal debuts with Betley starting and scoring nine points.
The two schools hadn’t met as non-conference opponents since the 1987 NIT. Prior to that they met in a regular season contest at the Far West Classic in Portland in 1984.
The Bears and Beavers will meet again on January 2 and February 25 in Berkeley. They split last season with each team winning at home.