Second Half Stampede: Colorado bests Cal, 70-62, ends Bears modest win streak

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–Five consecutive halves of competitive basketball from the Golden Bears delivered the expected: two wins and a loss.

The loss came Thursday night at Haas Pavilion, 70-62 to Colorado as the Buffs seized control of a close game with a 14-1 run to start the second half. Cal’s 25 percent shooting after the break put an end to what had been a promising start, and a continuation of the club’s strong play during their sweep of the Oregon schools.

“We were pleased with our play on both ends in the first half, and then really disappointed with how we started the second half,” coach Mark Fox said. “We didn’t play well enough in the second half and I thought Colorado took advantage of our defensive play.”

The Bears shot 15 of 29 in the first half and led by seven at the break. But an opportunity was missed in the final minutes when they missed four 3’s and failed to go to halftime with a double-digit lead. The second half started with a string of empty possessions contrasting the Buffs’ aggressiveness that saw them take the ball to the basket repeatedly with success.

“I’m really pleased with the toughness we showed,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Cal’s a physical team. We had to be tougher and stronger and we played that way.”

Cal’s close of the first half, and their drought to start the second saw them miss 22 of 25 shots. That took the home crowd out of the mix, and left the Bears in a tough spot, entirely of their making according to Fox.

“As soon as adversity hit, we didn’t respond the right way and I was certainly very disappointed in all of us tonight.”

What specifically changed? The Buffs defensive pressure. Cal enjoyed a string of open looks in the first half. That stopped after the break as Colorado gained intensity. And the Bears’ response wasn’t to match the visitors’ energy. That difference was reflected in a 43-28 edge in the rebounding for the visitors, and in Colorado’s 21 made free throws, a benefit of them taking the ball to the basket.

“We clawed our way back in by getting stops,” Boyle said. “We adjusted in the second half and turned it around.”

CU got 19 points each from Jabari Walker and freshman KJ Simpson. Evan Battey added 18.

Jalen Celestine and Grant Anticevich led Cal with just 11 points each, and Kuany Kuany added a season-best 10 in just 18 minutes off the bench.

The Bears continue their home stretch with a 3:00pm meeting with the Utah Utes on Saturday.

Westwood Wizardry: UCLA still a mystery to Cal, Bruins win 10th straight in series, 81-57

By Morris Phillips

Really good teams don’t have just one method to land themselves in the win column. Whether it’s stifling defense, uncanny shot making or tabbing unlikely contributors, No. 7 UCLA has a full bag. Cal got a second look inside that bag on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion, and apparently they still haven’t digested what all’s in there.

Without leading scorer Johnny Juzang, who was placed in COVID protocols earlier in the day, UCLA was still downright offensive, routing Cal, 81-57, their 10th consecutive win in the series dating back to 2017.

UCLA managed just 60 points in their win on January 8 at Berkeley, but in front of their home crowd and with their kind Pauley rims, they zoomed to 81 points, shooting 53 percent from the floor.

“We have to find some answers,” coach Mark Fox said. “Our defense is absent right now, and we have to find it.”

Jamie Jaquez Jr. led the Bruins (15-2, 7-1) with 15 points, one of five players to score in double figures. Jake Kyman, a 6’7″ reserve took advantage of his increased playing time in Juzang’s absence, scoring in double figures (10 points) for the first time this season.

“We have a really deep team. When guys have opportunities, they step up,” Jaquez said. “Guys like Jake and David (Singleton) really stepped up and helped us get this W.”

The Bears (9-11, 2-7) dropped their sixth straight with a visit to equally formidable USC up next on Saturday. Cal made shots early, and finished the first half shooting 50 percent, but they couldn’t sustain it. Along with 14 turnovers–many on careless passes–the Bears failed to establish any interior scoring with Andre Kelly. That led to tough perimeter shots and just seven free throw attempts.

“We have to be able to make 3-point shots to open up the interior,” Fox conceded.

“We didn’t have eight blocks like the other night, but the 14 steals,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “Embracing trying to disrupt Cal’s offense. Play harder, run harder, talk more, be more physical, rebound harder. Those are the things that separate programs. Winners know why they win. Other teams blame their coaches, their teammates.”

Kelly was limited to four shot attempts and six points. Jordan Shepherd scored nine points, but missed eight shots. Grant Anticevich came off the bench due to his scoring slump. The change of scenery wasn’t much help, the super senior went scoreless in 19 minutes.

On the bright side, Fox liked that his freshman trio of Sam Alajiki, Marsalis Roberson and Obinna Anyanwu got valuable minutes and showed flashes. Don’t expect any of the three to land in the starting lineup anytime soon, although Alajiki started in place of Anticevich. Fox simply won’t tolerate the mental mistakes young players are likely to commit.

“They have length, and a level of athleticism that will really help us, but right now they can’t grow fast enough,” Fox said.