Short Stay In Vegas: Cal can’t keep up with Washington State in 66-59 Pac-12 Tourney loss

By Morris Phillips

Several of the elements Cal needed to extend their stay in Las Vegas were present on Wednesday. The key ingredient–made baskets–was completely absent.

The Bears shot a dreadful 31 percent from the floor, missing 16 3-point attempts, in a 66-59 first round loss to Washington State at the Pac-12 Tournament.

“Offensively we seemed to be out of rhythm and didn’t shoot it well in the first half and so we dug ourselves too big of a hole, eventhough in the second half we played a little bit better,” coach Mark Fox said.

Down the stretch Cal stayed within reach, and cut their deficit to six with 23 seconds remaining, but the Cougars–near perfect from the foul line–held them off.

Efe Abogidi led WSU with 19 points, five rebounds and Tyrell Roberts added 14 as the Cougs advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with UCLA on Thursday.

The Bears (12-20) finished their season with losses in five of their last six contests, and took their 20th loss in the finale. They also saw the college careers of Grant Anticevich and Jordan Shepherd, two of their key contributors, come to a close.

The first half contained enough Cal errors to create the hole Fox eluded to as the visitors shot a chilly 23 percent while allowing the Cougars to expand their lead in the last two minutes. Joel Brown attempted to give the Bears a defensive leader, but he only lasted nine minutes before it became apparent that he should not play any further with his knee that foced him to miss the regular season finale an issue.

Meanwhile, Abogidi with his lengthy arms and quickness seemed to slither around Lars Thiemann for a memorable layup, and leading scorer Michael Flowers put Jalen Celestine on skates with some playground moves.

But WSU wouldn’t pull away as Cal’s edge in rebounding, as well as their deliberate pace kept the high-scoring Cougs from gaining any offensive consistency. With 7:35 remaining Celestine’s layup kept the Bears within range, down 49-41.

“They bothered us with their physicality and they got on the glass, but our zone defense was pretty good and we hit our free throws,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said.

Facing WSU’s zone look, the Bears couldn’t find their offense or get any closer. Anticevich (2 for 12) and Shepherd (6 for 17) finished with subpar numbers and no one else stepped up. Defensively, Abogidi’s quickness put Cal in a predicament as Theimann wasn’t quick enough to defend the 6’8″ forward which necessitated Fox to commit Anticevich to cover him. That ultimately kept the Cal senior from having an impactful evening with his scoring.

The Bears will have a new look in the upcoming season without Shepherd and Anticevich, and with the return of the injured Andre Kelly in question as well. Fox has vowed to extract an offensive leader from the graduate transfer market to lead the Bears in 2022-23.

East Bay Cold Snap: Cal greets Stanford with a chilly reception in 53-39 win

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Cold? Yes, Stanford’s offense at Haas Pavilion on Saturday evening was quite chilly, almost as if the visitors from Palo Alto were stranded outside the building and forced to watch the sunset on a winter night wearing just their uniforms and warm-ups.

That description best mirrors the Cardinal’s evening as they were frozen in place during Cal’s 19-0 run, and limited to 12 points before halftime. Bolstered by a 23-point lead at the break, Cal cruised, winning 53-39 to extinguish their seven-game home losing streak, while gaining a measure of satisfaction against their biggest rival.

Winning after a lengthy streak of rough results didn’t deter the Golden Bears. Instead it strengthened them, according to coach Mark Fox.

“They really haven’t had their confidence shaken,” Fox said. “For the most part they’ve been resilient and regrouped.”

“We just performed at the level we know we’re capable of and moving forward if we can do that consistently we won’t have any problems,” Grant Anticevich said. “I don’t think we played out of character at all.”

The Bears’ 53 percent shooting in the first half carried them as did Jordan Shepherd, who put up 28 points on 11 for 16 shooting. In a game that ultimately will be remembered for missed shots from both teams, Cal’s first half and Shepherd’s bounce back performance were all it took. Shepherd suffered with his injured hand in Cal’s previous contests against Colorado and Utah, failing to score in double-digits both times. But a week without games, and rest, got the graduate transfer back on point.

“Offensively, I thought we got the shots we were looking for,” Fox said. “It’s a terrific win (with a) great environment, terrific fans and a super energy in the building. It was really good for our seniors to finish their home careers this way.”

No other Bears scored more than six points, but the team tallied 12 assists on 22 made baskets, proof that the ball was moving and the offense was executed. An eight minute scoreless drought in the second half didn’t short circuit Cal as their defensive effort maintained consistency. As a result Stanford never mounted a credible response on a night they shot 23.5 percent while losing for the fifth time in six games.

Logan Alters was honored with a starting lineup nod on Senior Night for Cal, and several familiar faces dotted the crowd of more than 8,000.

Jason Kidd, Jerome Randle, Sean Lampley, Theo Robertson and Markhuri Sanders-Frison were among the basketball alumni in attendance. Kidd was in town in advance of his NBA Mavericks playing the Warriors on Sunday, and Randle came to the Bay Area directly from war-consumed Ukraine where he plays professionally.

The Bears conclude their regular season in Arizona with the rematch with ASU up first in Tempe on Thursday at 5:00pm.

Bears Breakthrough: Cal wins at Oregon State, 63-61, ends 10-game losing streak

By Morris Phillips

Throughout a difficult losing skid, and after an injury sidelined their leading scoring for the rest of the season, the Cal Bears kept it together. The payoff for all that focus and belief came Wednesday night.

Maurice Calloo’s improbable miss at the rim that would have sent the game into overtime, allowed the Bears to escape with a 63-61 win in Corvallis over Oregon State. Cal broke their 10-game losing streak, and won for the first time on the road this season.

“These young men weren’t winning but they were functioning like winners so you had to know things would eventually turn around if we did the right thing,” coach Mark Fox said.

The Bears (10-15, 3-11) trailed by one at the half, and never led by more than four points. That led them to a suspenseful conclusion in which Jordan Shepherd’s shot was goaltended with 18 seconds remaining, breaking a 61-61 tie.

Andre Kelly, Cal’s leading scorer who injured January 29 in a loss to USC was declared lost for the season before the game when medical tests on his ankle revealed significant damage. That again forced Fox to rethink his lineups, and depend on a smaller core of performers.

Against OSU, Grant Anticevich, Jalen Celestine, Joel Brown and Shepherd each logged at least 35 minutes, and Cal had to weather their own uneven play at points due to their reliance on the tighter rotation.

Calloo’s 3-pointer with 11:43 remaining put OSU up 47-42, but Cal responded with an 11-2 run to lead 53-49 with 6:47 left.

“We weren’t good defensively to start the second half, but once we strung together some stops, I felt like we settled in,” Fox said.

The Bears took advantage of Oregon State on the glass with 14 offensive rebounds leading to 17 points. That along with 10 steals offset Cal’s 36 percent shooting that was too poor to allow them to sustain any momentum.

Shepherd led Cal with 15 points, and Anticevich had 13 points, eight rebounds. Brown contributed nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists along with a stellar defensive job on OSU’s Jarod Lucas, who scored just two points after halftime.

“I’m super-proud of Joel. He really competed well tonight and I thought he was probably our MVP,” Fox said of Brown. “We had a lot of guys chip in and play well but he was the difference in this one.”

Last season the Beavers (3-18, 1-10) defeated Cal three times, and then the Bears were forced to watch the hosts improbable run, as OSU won the Pac-12 Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. But those standout performers that led Oregon State have endured a rough season that’s landed them in last place in the conference.

Warith Alatishe was limited to 24 minutes on Wednesday and finished with seven points, seven rebounds while clearly favoring a previous knee injury.

Calloo led Oregon State with 18 points but missed 10 of his 16 shots from the field.

The Bears travel to Eugene on Saturday to face the Oregon Ducks at 1:00pm.

A Missed Shot Here, A Failed Pass There: Cal comes up short in 68-64 loss to Washington State

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–The narrowest of Cal’s ten consecutive losses was going to be agonizing under any circumstances, but losing streaks unearth patterns, and the Bears showed their stripes in Saturday’s 68-64 loss to Washington State.

Missed shots, failed passes, empty offensive possessions continue to plague the Bears, whether they commit those errors repeatedly or sparingly, as was the case in a four-point loss to the Cougars that the hosts could have pushed to overtime with a timely bucket in the game’s final minute.

Instead–without the benefit of a timeout to gain composure–Joel Brown got to an advantageous spot on the floor, but missed a nine-footer that was awkwardly released.

Coach Mark Fox referenced the final three minutes, but his team’s 14 turnovers, 14 missed 3’s and 15 fouls–six more than WSU committed–took place over the entirety of the 40 minutes. The biggest of the those mistakes may have been a turnover at mid-court to start the second half, which prompted Fox to call a timeout just 13 seconds in.

“We got a little bit to casual, and that led to a turnover,” said Fox. “All of the little things matter.”

On Cal’s second possession of the half, Kuany Kuany backed down his defender with a lack of urgency, and without an advantage, and the 6’9″ forward was whistled for an offensive foul. In essence, Cal’s afternoon was short circuited in the first two offensive trips after halftime, not in the final minutes, as Fox claimed.

While the root cause of Cal’s defeat may be cause for debate, the reason the Cougars snatched the win was obvious. Washington State has undeniable, offensive acumen typified on Saturday by diminutive guard Michael Flowers.

Flowers, one of the most sought after players to emerge from the transfer portal in the off-season, put up 21 points, making his first, four 3-point attempts, along with four, consecutive made free throws in the game’s final 30 seconds. Early in the second half, Flowers attacked the basket with two Cal defenders waiting, and emerged with a nifty layup on an up-and-under move.

Coach Kyle Smith has turned diminutive guards with offensive talent into stars at Washington State and before that, at USF. He summed up Flower’s contributions while unconsciously hinting at what Cal currently lacks.

“That’s what good players do, they secure rebounds, and make free throws, put those games away, close them out,” Smith said.

The Cougs (14-7, 7-3) captured their first road sweep of Stanford and Cal since 1993. Efe Abogidi contributed 17 points, 11 rebounds and Tyrell Roberts added 12 points.

Cal got a career-best 20 points from Jalen Celestine, along with 16 points, four rebounds from Grant Anticevich in 36 minutes off the bench. Jordan Shepherd was the only Cal starter to score in double figures, but he was 5 for 18 from the floor for 10 points.

Kuany and Sam Alajiki went scoreless after their minutes were curtailed despite both being in the starting lineup.

The Bears (9-15, 2-11) get time to reset before traveling to Oregon for contests with the OSU Beavers on Thursday and Oregon on Saturday.

No Margin For Error: No. 5 UCLA too stingy for Cal’s tastes, Bears fall 60-52

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Coach Mark Fox stalked the sidelines, pestered the refs, incited the Haas Pavilion crowd, and as always, had the full attention of his team, but in the end, Fox had to tip his cap.

Visiting UCLA just brought too much to the table.

In a defensive struggle, the No. 5 Bruins simply were too stingy, and wore Cal down in their 60-52 victory.

“There’s no shame in laying it out there against the best teams and falling short. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure,” Fox said. “We failed today, but these kids competed in a way that I was really pleased with.”

The Bears had success defensively, limiting UCLA to 60 points and a horrible night shooting from three (4 for 18), but in the game’s waning moments Cal’s resolve lessened and a pair of Bruins were left wide open to hit back-breaking, 3-pointers. Johnny Juzang’s three put UCLA up 55-43 with 3:28 remaining.

And how did Cal’s big effort defensively come to such an unsightly finish? Probably the result of climbing uphill all night, trailing for the game’s final 23 minutes, and realizing UCLA’s defense, which forced 15 turnovers, wasn’t going to relent.

“We’ve got to stop other teams from scoring,” UCLA’s Cody Riley said. “When we come out, we’re not always going to make shots. We can’t rely on making shots. It’s the defensive side where we win the ballgame.”

Riley’s presence in the paint was a welcome sight for his teammates, who fashioned an unlikely trip to the Final Four last spring without him due to injuries. With him, Cal was made to suffer as two of their top three scorers, Grant Anticevich and Jordan Shepherd, were harassed into horrible shooting nights. The attention paid to Anticevich and Shepherd allowed Andre Kelly the space to make 11 of his 14 shots, but a one-man show isn’t the precursor to an upset. For the most part, Cal was denied entry into the lane, and their 1 for 14 shooting from three did little to compensate for their lack of easier baskets.

“I knew that we were going to take Cal’s best shot because I know what Mark Fox is made of and I know how upset he was with their defense Thursday,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “They gave up 50 points in the paint (versus USC). They were minus-38 in points in the paint. I can only imagine their film session and their practice yesterday. So we told our guys it was going to be World War III. We were probably going to have to grind it out. We do a good job at taking care of the ball. We’re top 10 in the country in that. It gives us a chance. Eventually we knocked down some shots.”

Tyger Campbell, the orchestrator of UCLA’s attack finished with 17 points, four assists. Jaime Jaquez, Jr. contributed 14, and Riley added 9. Juzang missed seven of his 10 shots, but buried the big 3-pointer late to make his 3 for 10 shooting more impactful.

Trojans Brought Their Horse: Undefeated USC stops Cal’s streak at Haas, wins 77-63

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–That rust enveloping the USC Trojans–built up over nearly three weeks following their last game on December 18–dissipated rather quickly.

The Cal Bears, hoping to catch USC out of sync, soon found themselves being dismantled by the visitors, with each, successive possession and after timeouts. Conceding too many opportunities on the glass, and bleeding points in the paint, the Bears were worn down in their first home defeat, losing 77-63.

“They’re good, and we have to play better to beat a great team,” coach Mark Fox admitted.

Cal started fast, holding their own in an uptempo start that saw the lead exchanged nine times in the first ten minutes. But it soon became apparent that the surprisingly disciplined Trojans were stout as advertised. First, USC showed unexpected proficiency at the foul line, converting 11 of their 13 attempts. Then the visitors controlled the glass (39-24 rebounding edge) and attacked the basket relentlessly (50-14 edge in points in the paint). Cal aided USC by shooting just 41 percent from the floor for the game, and sprinkling in some glaring, empty possessions.

“We felt like we gave the game away,” said Grant Anticevich, who led Cal with 19 points. “Credit to USC. They are a top-10 team for a reason. But we just made too many mistakes.”

“Once we started defending at a higher level, we took the lead,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Our defense in the second half was outstanding.”

Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans with 19 points, and Drew Peterson added 17. Boogie Ellis, the transfer guard from Memphis, had 14.

Jordan Shepherd scored 17 points, and Andre Kelly came up with 13 points, 11 rebounds, but the Bears got almost no secondary help. Starters Kuany Kuany and Joel Brown were factors defensively, but failed to make a shot from the floor, far less than what was needed to aid Cal’s upset bid. Jalen Celestine scored 10 points off the bench but could have played a bigger factor were it not a couple of questionable decisions with the ball in his hands.

Cal trimmed their deficit to 54-50 with 9:20 remaining only to see the Trojans surge again and regain their double-digit advantage. What started on the defensive end incorporated high percentage shooting as USC shot 64 percent after halftime.

“We made some positive plays,” Fox said. “We just didn’t threaten enough in the second half.”

MISSING MATT?: In an interesting comparison, the Cal transfer that has many saying “what if?” Matt Bradley has already seen USC this season. Bradley opted to forgo his stature as Cal’s go-to guy, transferred to San Diego State, and his Aztecs faced the Trojans in the Paycom Wooden Legacy Championship Game in Anaheim on November 26.

It didn’t go well for Bradley.

The Trojans’ length and singular focus on getting Bradley stopped, paid off as the 6’3″ guard was limited to three points in 25 minutes on the floor. Bradley shot 1 for 7, including 0 for 4 from three.

Fast Finish: Cal races past Pacific in the second half, wins 73-53 in non-conference finale

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Three seasons into Coach Mark Fox’s Cal tenure, his holiday humor has taken hold. After visiting Pacific closed the first half Wednesday with a 14-2 burst, being humorous wasn’t easy and probably cathartic.

“It was going to be an ugly Christmas at halftime,” Fox conceded.

Fox was left ashen with the Tigers awakening. After suffering under Cal’s attention to defensive detail, Pacific turned a pair of eight-point deficits into a five-point halftime lead. The process was sudden, unexpected and wholly threatening to the big brother school holding a 26-2 advantage in the series between the schools. The process took 6 1/2 minutes and had the Bears reeling.

But then the second half commenced, and the sunshine returned on an ugly, rainy afternoon. The Bears responded decisively with a 48-point second half in a 73-53 win.

Grant Anticevich led the Bears with 25 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best seven 3-pointers. Essentially before Anticevich closed the deal, Jared Celestine (career-best 12 points), Jordan Shepherd and Andre Kelly (11 points each) kept the Bears afloat.

In a game of subtle twists, almost all predicated on defense in the absence of eye-popping offense, Fox pointed to an unlikely turning point with 10:33 remaining and Cal clinging to a two-point lead. If anything was comical, Fox’s declaration displayed it.

“Lars made a couple of big free throws,” Fox said.

Cal increased the pressure a few minutes later with a 21-2 closing run that yielded a 20-point victory.

And what specifically turned the contest into a rout? Probably, Pacific’s lack of resolve, nothing new for a young ballclub who has yet to score more than 67 points in any of its nine losses. That frustration kicks in when you shoot 36 percent in the second half and suffer 13 turnovers.

Jaden Byers led Pacific with 10 points, Jeremiah Bailey and Sam Freeman added eight points a piece. For new coach Leonard Perry, an encouraging six-minute stretch didn’t come with much else to extoll. And yes, the humor was eliminated.

“They’re learning, they’re trying, and it’s been a hard adjustment,” coach Leonard Perry said of UOP’s trajectory. “They stick in there and they compete during practice.”

The Bears established an eight-game home win streak along with momentum leading to their next test, January 2 at Stanford. Can the Bears win on the road, and can they win in the Pac-12?

We’re making progress and now we’ve got to see if we can beat the people in the league,” Fox said.

Bear Down: Defense carries Cal past Dartmouth 61-55, but Foreman suffers significant injury

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Coach Mark Fox wasn’t joking around. In his mind, Dartmouth’s Brendan Berry, the Ivy League’s 3-point savant, was comparable to Steph Curry.

And Fox’s concern didn’t end with Barry. Secondary threats Taurus Samuels and Ryan Cornish were also capable of big shooting nights, so Fox made a choice, and a commitment.

“Dartmouth is a great three-point shooting team,” said Fox. “Our objective was to take away the three-point shot even at the expense of giving up some two-point shots, and ultimately we did a pretty good job of that.”

Never mind that the Big Green had suffered five, consecutive losses including an embarrassing late game collapse at Stanford on Thursday, resulting in an overtime loss. And Fox didn’t overplay Cal’s success at Haas Pavilion, where they were looking for a sixth, consecutive win. Instead the Cal coach was seeking some certainty that wasn’t rooted in modest winning or losing streaks. To him, a defensive strategy that emphasized his club’s fast improving defense was the path to take, with entertainment value barely a concern.

“Our defense was consistent enough to win,” Fox reiterated. “It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”

Cal stopped Barry cold in his tracks, limiting Dartmouth’s leading scorer to 10 points, and misses on five of his six 3-point attempts. Cornish and Samuels didn’t fare any better, failing to make even one three between them. And Cal kicked in a decisive effort on the glass as well, spearheading their 61-55 win on Sunday afternoon.

Jordan Shepherd led Cal with 11 of his 18 points after the halftime break. Andre Kelly added 14, and Grant Anticevich came up big with seven points and a career-best 15 rebounds.

Cal took its first lead, 22-21, with 4:23 remaining before halftime. The Bears led by four at the break, and saw their advantage grow to as much as 12 midway through the second half. But this was a struggle with Cal’s offensive numbers–42 percent shooting, and 26 percent from three–not much sexier than the visitors.

But in the end Fox was pleased, with a couple of caveats. Those misgivings began with Makale Foreman’s foot injury that likely will leave him sidelined indefinitely. When Foreman was felled in the second half–a reoccurrence of a previous injury–that put tremendous pressure on the rest of the Cal rotation. While Cal got meaningful contributions from Jalen Celestine, Sam Alajiki and Jared Hyder, Shepherd’s minutes spiked, causing concern.

“Jordan Shepherd played a massive number of minutes, and we’ll have to get some relief there.”

The Bears conclude their non-conference schedule on Wednesday when Pacific of Stockton visits Haas Pavilion. The Tigers suffered a lopsided 77-67 home loss to UC Davis on Sunday, a game in which the Tigers trailed 41-21 at the break.

Bengals Bashed: Cal gets a rare laugher in 72-46 win over Idaho State

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Defense wins championships, and it also wins December non-conference games against overmatched opponents.

Don’t leave home without it, or make yourself at home with it.

Cal’s 72-46 victory over Idaho State was all defense after halftime, as the Bears ran away from Idaho while limiting the visitors to five made baskets after the break.

“We know as disjointed as our roster has been with injury that offensively it’s going to take a while to develop some chemistry,” coach Mark Fox said. “But I really wanted us to play hard defensively, and I thought in the second half we really showed that.”

The Bears benefitted in a stretch of 12 consecutive ISU misses that allowed Cal to stretch their lead to 49-30 with 11 minutes remaining. Idaho State shot an uncompetitive 28 percent from the floor in dropping an eighth consecutive game after opening the season with a win over NAIA Eastern Oregon.

Fox jumbled his starting lineup by promoting Makale Foreman and Sam Alajiki at the expense of Kuany Kuany and Joel Brown. While Kuany is out while dealing with an ankle injury, Brown played his normal minutes as a reserve. But the biggest beneficiary may have been Lars Thiemann, who came up with a career-best 12 points, three rebounds and a block in 19 minutes of action. The 7’1″ center’s presence gave the Bears defense force, and offensively his points were part of Cal’s decisive 42-16 edge in points in the paint.

“When he comes into the game he’s always capable of that,” guard Jordan Shepherd said of Thiemann. “We see it every day in practice.”

Marsalis Roberson, the freshman from Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, made his collegiate debut, playing a couple of minutes in each half.

Idaho State was led by Robert Ford III with 11 points. Tarik Cool played the most minutes, and put up 14 shot attempts, but he couldn’t get it going, finishing with eight. The Bengals were outrebounded 44-32.

“We are feeling pretty beat up right now,” coach Ryan Looney said. “It has been a tough stretch and there a lot of things we need to do better.”

Andre Kelly had 12 points for Cal, and Grant Anticevich put up 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Shepherd had 11 points on 4 of 10 shooting.

The Bears have won five, consecutive home games and at 5-5 will be afforded an opportunity to move above. 500 when Santa Clara visits Haas Pavilion on Saturday evening.

Cal’s Best Effort: Bears see late lead evaporate in 62-59 loss to No. 21 Seton Hall

By Morris Phillips

This time the present-and-accounted-for Cal Bears made plays and got stops at the Fort Myers Tip-Off… with the exception of the final 83 seconds.

Cal–in their best performance yet–pulled even with No. 21 Seton Hall on Grant Anticevich’s made free throw only to lose 62-59 seconds later when they couldn’t convert on any of their last three possessions.

“I thought we played really, really well,” coach Mark Fox said. “We just didn’t close it.”

The Bears got big performances from Anticevich and Andre Kelly who combined for 38 of their 59 points, but they allowed their second consecutive ranked opponent to escape what would have been an embarrassing defeat.

“No matter what, you get out of here 1-1 and two months from now it’s not going to matter what the score was,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said.

The Bears needed Seton Hall to struggle offensively in part due to the Pirates’ misfortune, but also attributable to Cal’s defense along with their deliberate, offensive pace. And all three transpired along with Cal’s two leaders having big nights. A 10-2 run in the first ten minutes after halftime, gave Cal a 39-38 lead, and put Seton Hall on their heels.

A pair of made free throws from Kelly with 4:39 remaining gave Cal its biggest lead, 56-51, but they couldn’t sustain it. When Cal went scoreless for two minutes plus, Ohio State transfer Bryce Aiken strung together five points in 6-0 run that allowed the Pirates to regain the lead.

Two more made free throws from Kelly put Cal in front again, and seconds later Anticevich’s first of two free throws got Cal even at 59. But Anticevich missed the second, and a three with seven seconds left. Jalen Celestine missed a three early in a shot clock with 42 seconds to go. And with three seconds remaining, Joel Brown could convert his first free throw before purposely missing the second. Brown ended up on the charity stripe when Seton Hall elected to foul leading by three and less than 10 seconds left.

“Grant’s a great shooter and I want him to take that shot every time,” Fox said. “I thought we executed it well, it just didn’t go in.”

“I thought we played really well against a nationally-ranked team. We obviously had some possessions where we had some turnovers that lead to baskets, and those are costly errors. I thought we competed well.”

Jared Rhoden scored 21 points, and Kadary Richmond added 12 for Seton Hall. Alexis Yetna and Tyrese Samuel each scored 10 points as Seton Hall improved to 4-1.

The Pirates shot 34 percent from the floor, and 22 percent from three. They bailed themselves out by making 24 of 30 free throw attempts.

“We’re trying to make things happen instead of letting things happen,” Willard said.

The Bears fell to 2-4 and they return home to Haas Pavilion on Sunday to host Fresno State at 7:00 p.m.