Bears Squander Another Opportunity, Fall to UCLA 75-67 in Overtime

Photo credit: @CalMBBall

By: Michael Duca

BERKELEY, Calif. — The second time was not the charm.

Cal opened its Pac-12 season against a UCLA team in disarray, with Interim Coach Murry Bartow coaching his first game after a mid-season change. The Bruins broke form and blew out Cal at Pauley. Wednesday night, the Bears got their shot at the Bruins at home, immediately after what should have been a soul-crushing loss to Utah Sunday afternoon.

It was not meant to be.

One of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation (62%), the UCLA Bruins rode 9-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe to a 75-67 overtime victory at Haas Pavilion. Led by Kris Wilkes 27 points, the Bruins, who did not lead until 11:04 remained in regulation, caught fire late from behind the arc to steal a sloppy game from Cal, which is still seeking its first conference win (0-12, 5-18). UCLA started the game shooting 3-of-16 from behind the arc, but finished hitting 7 of their final 16 treys, including back-to-back shots from the left corner in a 30-second span in the final 90 seconds of regulation. Those three-balls pulled the Bruins from a 59-55 hole inside 2:00.

Cal, which held a nine point advantage at the half, fell to 3-3 in games with a lead at the intermission. The Bruins played a sloppy game, with 13 turnovers in the first half (and only 4 assists). Those turnovers led to a 15-4 lead in points off turns for Cal, but they just could not hold it in the second half once the Bruins started to hit from outside.

Wilkes 16 points after intermission overshadowed a nice evening for Darius McNeil, who flashed his speed time after time in racking up a team-high 18 points, including four treys, but McNeil also committed a pair of thoroughly unnecessary fouls that gave the Bruins life.  The taller Bruins owned the boards, with a 50-36 edge that included 17 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points.

Down 9 with 14:00 left in regulation, David Singleton hit three consecutive three-balls for the Bruins to close the game to 43-42 at 12:18.

Matt Bradley had a rollercoaster night, missing his first eight shots but draining a three to send the game to overtime.

Cal’s frustration will only increase when they watch film – they have suffered mightily in conference play from poor defense, but they held UCLA (averaging 80 points/game) to under 40% shooting on the night, but could barely exceed hitting one-third of their own shots (23-of-68).

Justice Sueing had a solid game with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, adding a team-leading 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Conor Vanover is beginning to show flashes of adapting to the speed of the college game, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, plus 6 rebounds and a pair of blocks (plus countless other shots altered), and a pair of plays where he created held balls that gave Cal possession.

It remains to be seen whether Cal will break through and avoid a winless conference season, but it is clear from watching this team that they have not given up on the season – they competed hard for 45 minutes, but just didn’t have the offense to put the game away in regulation.

Next up for Cal are the USC Trojans, Saturday afternoon at 5 pm.

Michelle Richardson on the NCAA

by Michelle Richardson

 

Cal’s dreadful 2013 season: I’ll be honest with Cal head coach Sonny Dykes is not suited to coach at Cal and he’s a very good coach and I think the jump from Louisiana Tech to the University of California Berkeley was too large for him he should have gone to a larger mid major conference maybe like the Mountain West Conference. Going to Cal was too big of a leap to go from the Sun Belt conference to the Pac 12 where it’s dog eat dog Dykes was just outmanned.

Fact is Dykes will have a tough time proving himself in the Pac 12 and this was just a horrible season finishing 1-11 and it’s going to take a lot for the Bears to rebound and who knows if they can to be honest with you. I honestly don’t know if the leadership is there and I was talking with Sportstalk’s Jeremy Kahn and this falls on Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and honestly to an extent Sonny Dykes because of his play calling but more so because of the price tag that they don’t have to pay him as much as if they had to go after a larger name.

There’s money still left on Cal former head coach Jeff Tedford’s contract so it’s one of those, “well this is all we could afford” and it’s a shame because Cal could have been at least competitive in the Pac 12. Cal wasn’t even competitive they were just a doormat. They won one game against Portland State earlier in the season. It’s too horrible to talk about Cal and it’s kind of a sad day that Cal is dealing with all these new sporting facilities on campus and with the new football stadium and was doing it on a shoe string and Cal eventually is going to have to put butts in the seats. They need to win a few more games than this next season.

Louisville basketball with 21 straight wins: Louisville has something to prove and their trying to prove that their not a fluke but their also playing UNC in UNC. UNC is a basketball school that’s what they do they’ve got a football team the only other team that rivals them is their soccer and that’s women’s and men’s soccer but definitely women’s soccer. Louisville has a very good coach in Rick Pitino. I’m telling you it’s going to be closer than you think but I still give the win to UNC.

UNC will win because Louisville has lost so many players to the draft after their championship run last year.

Charleston Classic concludes: It’s always to go to Charleston and see my old alum the New Mexico Lobos and we live on the east coast so we don’t get to see them except for television so it was good to see them play and they played Daividson and Davidson is outmanned on this. Davidson what they lack in size they have in heart so I believe the Lobos will win but Davidson will give them all they have.

New Mexico they lost on Saturday to UMass 81-65 on Friday they came off a triple overtime loss to UAB that doesn’t take nothing away from UMass and UMass is a very good team and their in the tournament right now and their going to play Clemson and their going to hear it from UMass and their going to be a turning team to look out for.

So don’t take UMass lightly and UMass whose 4-0 will be dominating this tournament and please understand that the Lobos are playing a week late and the triple overtime they had against UAB is a tough one. Their playing Davidson and they got their legs back and they will definitely beat Davidson and not taking anything away from Davidson they lack a little shot against New Mexico but they’re all heart.

Michelle Richardson does commentary on the NCAA each week for Sportstalk Radio