Cal Bears Basketball Podcast with Morris Phillips: 11 years in the waiting first time USC & UCLA knocks off Cal; It was an easy win for UCLA

Photo credit: TheAthletic.com

On the Cal Basketball Podcast with Morris:

1 First time in 11 years that Cal is beaten by USC and UCLA

2 The Trojans and the Bruins didn’t have to put up too much sweat in facing Cal this week

3 UCLA got a 13-2 start on Cal from the opening tip in their 107-84 win

4 The 107 points and 17 threes were UCLA’s best offensive effort of the season

5 As Cal licks its wound and prepares for Washington Thursday and Washington State on Saturday

Morris Phillips covers Cal Bears Men’s Basketball for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

Stanford completes comeback to edge USC 77-76

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

By: London Marq

PALO ALTO–The venue was packed at Maples Pavilion as Stanford hosted the USC Trojans in a much-anticipated PAC-12 matchup. After their best performance of the season last Thursday against UCLA, the Cardinal would have an opportunity to improve to .500 on the season.

It was a tail of two halves, as the Trojans were in control early. Metu was the leading scorer from USC. His 20 points helped the Trojans gain an 11-point halftime advantage. Four total players from USC scored in double digits.

The Cardinal came alive in the the second period. They were strong particularly on defensive. Holding an explosive Trojan team to less than 30 points in the second half, they were able to close the gap. The Cardinal defense fueled their offense. Reid Travis pulled in a double-double with 29 points and 10 boards.

His strong performance put Stanford in position for a spectacular finish. At the tail end of the game, the Trojans scored a go-ahead basket to lead by two. With 1.7 seconds left on the clock, Stanford in-bounds the ball to Dajeon Davis. Davis nailed a walk-off 3-pointer from beyond half court before being mobbed by his teammates.

This makes two big wins in a row for the Cardinal, against two notable conference foes. The look to keep up the consistency against Washington State on Thursday.

Stanford defeated USC 77-76.

Up Next: The Cardinal visit the Washington State Cougars on Tuesday at 6 pm PT.

Beat LA? Not Cal: Bears get swept by USC and UCLA at home for first time in 11 years

harris_dyson
Photo courtesy of Kelley L. Cox/KLC Fotos

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY–For the first time in more than a decade, both UCLA and USC have victories at Haas Pavilion in the same season. And with the Cal Bears still struggling to find their footing against Pac-12 competition, neither the Bruins or Trojans had to sweat.

UCLA got their opportunity to take advantage of the Bears on Saturday afternoon, and did so from the opening tip, racing to a 13-2 to advantage on their way to a 107-84 win, featuring a season-best 13 made three-pointers. The 107 points and 17 threes were both season-bests for the Bruins, while the defenseless Bears allowed at least 90 points in a game for the sixth time this season.

Thomas Welsh led the Bruins with 19 points, 14 rebounds despite playing with a protective mask for the first time following a collision with Stanford’s Reid Travis on Thursday. Aaron Holiday added 21 points and freshman Kris Wilkes had 16 as six Bruins scored in double figures. UCLA bounced back from a crushing double overtime loss at Stanford on Thursday with 58 percent shooting from the floor against Cal.

“That’s key especially playing on the road in the Pac 12,” Welsh said. “You have to get ahead early and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Bears were led by Justice Sueing with 22 points, and Marcus Lee with 19 points, 15 rebounds. But the home team’s offense was absent in UCLA’s quick start, as Cal shot just 26 percent in the first half while falling behind 54-33.

“We try to put the best lineup out there to give us the best fight, give us the best chance from the start of the game,” coach Wyking Jones said. “You see me juggling the lineups a bit, so we can put guys out there that will bring it from the start. It’s just a situation that for some reason, we don’t have good starts. We weren’t aggressive in the first half, we didn’t look to attack the zone like we did in the second half.”

The Bears (7-9, 1-2 in Pac-12 play) dropped two at home after winning four of five, including their stirring comeback at Stanford last week. Unlike their tentative effort against Trojans, the Bears were scrappy and determined, making a brief, second half run that cut UCLA’s lead to 13 at one point. But the Bruins seized control again, by making 9 of 11 from distance in the second half to pull away.

The Bears travel to Seattle on Thursday to meet Washington.  It will mark the Bears’ second trip to the Emerald City in less than a month, after an earlier road win over  Seattle University.

Stanford Cardinal Podcast with Matt Harrington: After Thursday’s UCLA stunner Cardinal hope to top act with win over USC on Sunday

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

By Matt Harrington

PALO ALTO–It was a little bit of a stunner what Stanford did in their victory over the UCLA Bruins 107-99. They have to look at their potential UCLA is upset with their performance but Stanford needs to look at the game on Thursday as this is your potential. In the final minutes of that double overtime game the Cardinal had four freshman on the floor including the Cardinal’s Dorian Pickens.

The Cardinal shouldn’t be under pressure anymore and after going through a game like that and a lot of time to develop they’ve have grown into the role. Stanford has to look at that as their potential. The Cardinal have got Dorian Pickens back. This is his second game back now. He had a career night that’s what the team’s capable of when they’re healthy.

Matt Harrington does the Stanford Cardinal podcast each Saturday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

 

Trojans Upset Cardinal on Ogwumike’s Record Setting Night

By Joe Lami

For the first time ever the Stanford Cardinal will not be going to the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, as the USC Trojans defeated the Cardinal 72-68 in the semi-finals on Saturday night.  Stanford the number one seed and the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship, is now unsure of how their NCAA Tournament is going to look.  If the Cardinal came out of the Pac-12 Tournament unscathed, they would have received an almost sure bid to a number one seed in their host west region.

The first half ended with the score tied at 32.  Stanford dominated the paint in the first half, with 18 points.  However, the Trojans led the first with points off of turnovers, bench points and 2nd chance points.

Coming out of the half, the Trojans jumped on the Cardinal early, going on a 14-4 run in the first 5:30.  Stanford would be able to crawl back slowly, and would eventually take the lead back with 6:46 remaining.  The Cardinal would push the lead to three, at 60-57 with 5:06 to go and be able to hold it for a couple of minutes.  However, the Trojans would once again march back, much in part to Cassie Harberts’ ten straight points.  This would get the USC lead to as high as seven before the Cardinal would find another bucket with 61 seconds to go.

The Cardinal pressed in the final minute to get the deficit as low as two, but the Trojans would be good enough at the foul line to be able to ice the game away and advance to the Pac-12 Championship game, where they will face the Oregon State Beavers.

Chiney Ogwumike led the way for the Cardinal with 30 points and 21 rebounds.  The 30 points ties her with Stanford Alum, Candice Wiggins as the all-time Pac-12 scorer with 2,629.  Unfortunately for Ogwumike, she scored career point 2,629 with over seven minutes remaining in the game, and couldn’t find another to break the record in game where every point mattered.

Stanford had an awful day from the field, finishing the game at just 32%.  Lili Thompson finished with 13 points, going 4 of 11 shooting.  Amber Orrange was the only other double digit scorer for the Cardinal, as she finished the night with 11 points and 3 of 11 shooting.  Mikaela Ruef was held scoreless for the first time in recent memory, as the fifth year senior went 0 for 8 from the field, but she did bring down five rebounds.  Taylor Greenfield was the only Stanford player to come off of the bench and contribute points, as she finished the game with five.

The Trojans didn’t shoot that much better, as they finished the game shooting just 39%.  USC also saw three different players get into double digits.  Alexyz Vaioletama led the way with 19 points.  She also contributed 15 rebounds, with five of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.  Guard, Ariya Cook, finished the game with 15 points.  Game MVP, Cassie Harberts only had 13 points, but ten of them came at the most opportune time, as she scored ten straight with under three minutes to go to give the Trojan’s a lead good enough to win the game.

The win for the Trojans gets them that much closer into the NCAA tournament, as ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the ladies of USC on his first four teams out of the tournament.  However, with this win it might just be enough to break the bubble and earn a bid.  That is if they don’t receive the automatic bid on Sunday afternoon by winning the Pac-12 Tournament.  Oregon State, their opponent on Sunday is looked at as already in the NCAA Tournament according to Creme.

Number four-ranked Stanford has their record drop to 29-3, and now they are a little unsure on how they will be entering the NCAA Tournament.  Some questions arise, is Stanford still a number one seed?  Does Stanford still deserve to be in the west region, their host region?  Only time will tell what the selection committee decides, but for now we sit back and prepare for another great day of Championship basketball on Sunday.

Huestis King of the Block on the Farm as Stanford Rolls Past USC 80-59

By Matthew Harrington

At the time of the year when teams are piecing together the final bullet points of their March Madness resumes, the Stanford Cardinal did exactly what it needed to do Thursday night; It won. The 80-59 victory over visiting University of Southern California at Maples Pavilion didn’t captivate audiences like North Carolina’s stunner over Duke earlier in the evening, but Stanford still managed to finish just good enough to come out ahead against the Trojans (10-16, 1-12), firmly entrenched in the Pac-12 standings cellar, to continue to roll towards an at-large bid in the big dance.

The Cardinal shooting touch appeared to be more or a flail Thursday, as Stanford (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12) finished 28 of 69 from the floor, including a lackluster 2 of 19 from beyond the three-point line. Stanford turned that negative into a positive however, besting USC in the rebound battle 45-40. Stanford’s tenacious forward Josh Huestis led the boards barrage, picking up almost half (7) of the Cardinal’s 18 offensive rebounds. USC finished with 10 off their own glass. The Cardinal owned the turnover battle, forcing 18 Trojan errors to 7 of its own.

For Huestis, the night proved a memorable one as the senior stalwart notched a double-double with 11 points and while setting a new career-best in rebounds with 18. With his denial of a Strahinja Gavrilovic lay up two minutes into play the Great Falls, Mont. native moved past Tim Young as the Cardinal all-time blocks leader. Huestis finished the night with three rejections for a career total of 169, two more than Young.

Along with Huestis, three of Stanford’s other four starters hit double-digits in scoring, with guards Anthony Brown (13) and Chasson Randle (18) joining forward Dwight Powell (14) on the list of scorers with ten-plus points. USC guard Pe’Shon Howard led the Trojans with 13 points, while Julian Jacobs chipped in 11. The Trojans were without junior guard Byron Wesley, team leader in scoring (17.6) and rebounds (6.9) due to a violation of team rules.

The Cardinal suffered an early scare when USC’s Strahinja Gavrilovic fouled Powell hard in the head at the 5:36 mark of the first. Powell would leave the game but ultimately returned with about seven minutes left in the half sporting a headband wrapped around some stitches and a new number. Powell’s traditional 33 jersey, now blood-soaked, was shed in favor of one with a 32 stitched on back.

The preeminent fear after Powell’s injury was a continuation of dismal first-half shooting display as the Cardinal only hit 10 of 35 field goals in the first 20 minutes. They managed to hold a 32-23 at the half on the strength of their ability to force turnovers, nab offensive rebounds and a six-point outburst from Powell’s injury sub, Robbie Lemons.

The Cardinal finished the final 20 minutes with a much better shooting performance by outscoring the visitors 48-36, including a stretch where the Trojans were limited to one basket and three free throws made. With Stanford leading 51-42 7 minutes in to the half, the Cardinal went on a dominant 21-8 run till Roschon Prince hit a lay up with 4:17 left in regulation. Stanford coasted from there on out for the 80-59 win to sweep the season series against their Southern California rivals.

Next on the schedule is the University of California Los Angeles for a Saturday tilt at Maples, game number two of the remaining four games at home. The Cardinal also have two road games sandwiched between Saturday’s contest and a return home March 5th against Colorado, the final two-game home stretch of the campaign.

Bears punt away another one, this time to USC, 62-28

USC-CalBy Morris Phillips

Coach Sonny Dykes turned 44 Saturday, but admitted during this time of the year, football coaches don’t celebrate anniversaries, holidays or birthdays.  So when asked, Cal’s coach said his team’s dismal showing on the field didn’t add to or subtract from the occasion.

Jackson Bouza played his last game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, and despite the 62-28 loss to USC and his Bears’ 1-9 record, he remained resolute: he wouldn’t change anything about his four years at Cal.

And Jared Goff—as best as he can—is moving on after throwing for the least impactful 255 yards and three touchdowns one can imagine.  With equally-hapless Colorado up next on the schedule, Goff said he’ll be ready, regardless of what transpired with the Trojans.

What normally is a big game with USC was anything but on Saturday for Cal.  Instead, it was hard to watch, hard to play in, and even harder to explain afterwards.  The Bears snuck back into the game briefly at 21-14 in the second quarter, only to experience an avalanche of USC points that left them trailing 55-14 midway through the third quarter and well on their way to an eighth straight loss.

Given that backdrop, Dykes, Bouza and Goff deserve all the credit for attempting to put a hopeful spin on their dire situation.  But that they did in the postgame interview room with all three steadfastly maintaining that better days are ahead for Cal football.

“In a weird sort of way, the experience they have gotten this year and the hard luck will help our team respond faster,” Dykes said.  “We are going to get this thing right, I don’t have a doubt in my mind.  I feel more strongly about that right now than I did December 5th when I was hired.”

But before the Bears can prepare for a feast, they might have to—even privately–come to grips with how they got so hungry in the first place.

The Bears haven’t won a game against a Divison I opponent in over a year.  They’ve lost all but one game this season by at least 14 points, and have routinely fallen behind from the start.  On Saturday, USC’s Javorius Allen blew through the Cal defense for 43-yard touchdown run, and the Trojans had a 21-0 lead over Cal before the first quarter had expired.

Injuries and inexperience are hurting Cal more than anything.  That continued on Saturday when middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson was felled by a foot injury.  Nickerson, himself just a redshirt freshmen, had been counted on to call the defensive signals and get the Cal defenders in the right alignment pre-snap.  Without him, that job fell to true freshman Chad Whitener, and the Bears’ defense suffered as USC averaged nearly nine yards per carry, and saw maligned quarterback Cody Kessler have an error-free game.

“We missed a lot of checks, and rolled the coverage the wrong way several times,” Dykes said when asked about Nickerson’s early exit. “We got out of position as a result, and when you get out of position, you are trying to recover, and when you are trying to recover, you are diving a people’s legs and it looks bad.”

For Cal, with injuries and inexperience commonplace—Dykes reminded everyone that only three seniors have places among Cal’s top 44 players—capable special teams are still supposed to be a given.  That’s one of Dykes’ hallmarks along with his high-octane pass attack.  Dykes explained that his Louisiana Tech teams always excelled on punt and kickoff coverage, and here at Cal, he starts several practices each week with special teams’ drills.

Ah, special teams can save the day.   Just not on Saturday.

First the Bears allowed Nelson Agholor to return a punt 75 yards for a score less than two minutes into the game.  Then USC’s Soma Vainuku blocked a punt in the second quarter that teammate Josh Shaw returned 14 yards for a 35-14 Trojans’ lead.  Just a couple minutes after that, Agholor struck again, this time with a 93-yard punt return.

Goff gamely attempted to keep his team in the game, and got a big assist from emerging freshman receiver Kenny Lawler, who has caught five touchdown passes in two games.  But Goff plays in a high risk, high reward system that so far hasn’t reaped many rewards.  Once again, the Bears couldn’t strike deep, and Goff had to look short.  So while Goff chucked it downfield 52 times, he only had 255 yards passing.   When the turnovers and sacks are factored in (and on Saturday the Bears had just one sack, and no interceptions) Goff’s five-yard average per pass attempt just isn’t high rewards enough for a major college team to have success.

With the loss, the Bears haven’t beaten USC since the epic triple-overtime win in 2003.  The Bears hadn’t surrendered as many as 62 points to the Trojans since the 1930’s.  And yes, three punt return touchdowns for USC ties an NCAA record and equals a Pac-12 conference record that stood unmatched since 1954.

Next week, the Bears travel to Boulder to face Colorado, which probably will be Cal’s last opportunity for a win this season with No. 4 Stanford after that in the season finale.