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Basketball: Cal-EWU game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 78, EWU 67. Christian Behrens (20 points) and Sam Singer (15) each scored career highs and the Bears (10-1) equaled their best start since 1960 in front of an announced crowd of 6,758 fans. Cal won its seventh straight game and equaled its best start since Pete Newell’s 1959-60 team that started 28-1 before losing to Ohio State in the national championship game. Tyrone Wallace contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears, who held off a second-half charge from the Eagles (8-4), who early this season ended Indiana’s 43-game home nonconference win streak.

The Bears return to action Monday at home against No. 5 Wisconsin.

Tyler Harvey finished with 31 points – including 6 for 9 from 3-point range — and Venky Jois scored 23 for the Eagles.

7:28 2nd H: Cal 56, EWU 49. Wallace’s third 3-pointer of the half — he has 20 points — gives Cal a bit of a cushion. Cal still shooting 58 percent. When the Bears don’t turn it over, they have been very efficient. Singer has 12 points — a career-high by four.

11:50 2nd H: Cal 46, EWU 44. The Eagles continue fight back. They pulled within 42-40 when Harvey nailed a 25-foot 3-pointer with 14:28 left, capping a 14-3 surge. He has 17 points and Jois has 18 for the Eagles; their teammates have combined for nine on 1 for 13 shooting. Kravish returning to the floor after the timeout.

16:02 2nd H: Cal 42, EWU 35. Kravish picked up his third PF with 19:04 left and immediately EWU’s Venky Jois attacked the basket, scoring to trigger a 9-0 run that got the visitors within 39-35. But Wallace just answered with a 3-pointer and Cal’s lead is back to seven points.

HALFTIME: Cal 37, Eastern Washington 26. The Bears outscored the Eagles 23-5 over the final 8:17 of the half, including a 16-0 run that spanned 6 minutes. Tyrone Wallace has 11 points and 9 rebounds at the half and Cal is shooting 58.3 percent from the field. Bears with a 20-12 rebounding edge. Sam Singer gave the Bears a lift with 4 for 4 shooting, especially big considering Jordan Mathews played just 5 minutes due to early fouls. Christian Behrens, after some shaky moments early, had six points and a nice pass to set up a basket.

EWU, which looked so sharp early, became susceptible to Cal’s defensive pressure and coughed up four turnovers in a span of five possessions, allowing the Bears to get some easy baskets and some offensive confidence. The Eagles shot 30.8 percent in the half and only two players — Venky Jois and Tyler Harvey — managed a field goal. The others were a combined 0 for 9. Eastern Wash has zero assists.

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Basketball: Cal-Wyoming game thread

Great defense or gruesome offense?

Whatever the answer, it added up to a 45-42 victory for Cal over Wyoming on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 6,648 fans at Haas Pavilion.

Cal’s point total was its lowest in a victory since a 43-41 win at Washington State on Feb. 23, 2006. No complaints from coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team improved to 8-1, the program’s best start since 2001-02.

“I just want to win. Doesn’t bother me at all, not at all,” he said after his team shot 36.5 percent and scored just 15 first-half points. “It wasn’t terrible offense at all. We continue to make progress defensively.”

The Bears, who have been at their best this season when able to play up-tempo basketball, did not score a transition basket until Tyrone Wallace dunked off a Wyoming turnover with 22.7 seconds left for a 43-39 lead.

Sam Singer then scored on a subsequent fastbreak layup, before Charles Hankerson made a 40-foot, 3-pointer at the horn for the Cowboys (8-2).

Martin knew this would be a tough, low-scoring game. Wyoming held Colorado to 33 points in a victory earlier this season.

“There’ll be nights when the shots don’t fall because the other team is real good defensively,” he said. “You have to find different ways to win the game.

“You have to defend and rebound. I thought we did that.”

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Basketball: Wallace, Bears rally past Nevada

I was not in Reno for the game today, but here’s a report:

FINAL: Cal 63, Nevada 56. Tyrone Wallace overcame a rough first half to score a career-high 29 points and lead the Bears’ comeback. Wallace was 1 for 9 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but made 10 of 11 thereafter, to go with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Wallace has scored at least 20 points the past three games and improved his season scoring average to 19.3 points.

Cal (7-1) is off to its best start since 2007-08.

The Bears got 11 points from David Kravish, making his 100th career start, his 96th in a row.

Cal played limited the Wolfpack (2-6) to 7 for 27 shooting in the second half. Nevada has lost six in a row.

The Bears played a clean game, turning the ball over a season-low three turnovers.

Christian Behrens contributed nine rebounds and Cal won despite getting just five points on 1 for 8 shooting from Jordan Mathews.

Nevada led 52-51 after a jumper by A.J. West with 4:34 left. But the hosts did not make another field goal the rest of the game, and the Bears outscored them 12-4 to close the game.

The Bears return home Wednesday to a face Wyoming (8-1), then remain at Haas to take on Princeton (3-6) on Saturday.

HALFTIME: Nevada 30, Cal 24

The Bears shooting 25 percent (7 for 28), including 1 for 9 by top scorer Tyrone Wallace.

All other stats are even: Rebounds are 20-20, turnover 3-3.

But Cal has missed at least four lauyps.

No Jabari Bird today, still out with a foot injury. Also not available is freshman guard Brandon Chauca, who was held out with an ankle sprain. Chauca gave the team a lift in his college debut Wednesday against Montana, contributing eight points and six assists.

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Basketball: Cal vs. Montana game thread

There was a lot not to like about the way Cal played in a 78-76 double-overtime win over Montana on Wednesday night.
“Whatever the mistakes may have been,” coach Cuonzo Martin said, “I’d rather watch film after a W than an L.”

The Bears (6-1) survived 22 turnovers and a spirited effort by the Grizzlies (2-4), who arrived on the heels of a 19-point loss to USF and nearly gave first-year coach and former Cal aide Travis DeCuire a huge victory in his homecoming to Haas Pavilion.

David Kravish scored six points in the second overtime, including the decisive putback with 29.5 seconds left.

Tyrone Wallace had a monster game with 22 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and five assists, but he missed two foul shots with 6.5 seconds remaining in the second overtime and the Bears up by just two points.

Freshman guard Brandon Chauca, who gave Cal a nice lift in his first game since being ruled eligible, then inexplicably fouled Montana’s Jordan Gregory with 4.7 seconds left.

Did Chauca think the Bears were up by three points?

“I haven’t asked him what happened,” Martin said. “That’s more me as a coach, making it clear to everybody what the time and score was.”

Gregory missed both free throws – the second one intentionally – and Jermaine Edmonds could not get a last-second 3-pointer to fall.

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Basketball: Cal-Fresno State game thread

Disclaimer: I was not in Fresno covering the Cal game. But here’s a report.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 64, Fresno State 57. The Bears survived a tough final 5 minutes to improve to 5-1 on the season. Cal led 60-50 after two free throws by Tyrone Wallace with 5:03 left, then did not score again until Jabari Bird made a pair of FTs with 30 seconds remaining.

Wallace finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, along with 2 steals and 2 assists. But he missed four straight free throws in the final 53 seconds to make the game tougher than it needed to be.  Finally, he dunked off an assist from David Kravish with 12 seconds left to ice the win.

Kravish had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots and Jordan Mathews scored 8 of his 10 points in the second half. A rough game for Bird, who made the big FTs late, but was 1 for 9 from the field. Sam Singer contributed 6 assists and Christian Behrens had 6 points and 5 rebounds.

Cal shot 45.5 percent for the game after making just 37.9 percent (11 for 29) in the second half. The Bears outrebounded the Bulldogs 38-33.

Fresno State, 1-6 for the first time since the 1950-51 season, was led by 27 points from Marvelle Harris. The Bulldogs shot 36 percent, hitting exactly 9 for 25  in each half.

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Basketball: Cal vs. Cal Poly game thread

Jabari Bird said his mandate from the Cal coaching staff is not to shoot more, but to be aggressive.

“Stay in attack mode,” the sophomore guard said after scoring a season-high 18 points in the Bears’ 72-52 win over Cal Poly on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,712.

Bird scored just six points in the first half, but led the way with 12 after intermission as the Bears (4-1) pulled away from a Cal Poly team determined to milk the clock and keep Cal out of its transition game.

Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Salesian High, finished the game with just 10 shot attempts.

“I always want him to be aggressive,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “You have to be sound. Be in attack mode. Make the right decisions. Not let the defense speed you up. Be in control.

“He’s getting better, he’s getting a lot better. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Point guard Tyrone Wallace contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Jordan Mathews scored 17 for the Bears, who might still have been out of sorts a bit after flying back from New   York City last weekend, Martin said.

“I just felt like even in practice guys were a step slow. I felt it myself,” said Martin, whose team beat then No. 23 Syracuse before losing to No. 7 Texas at Madison Square Garden. “It’s good to get this one out of the way.”

The Mustangs (2-2), who blitzed through the Big West tournament to earn an unexpected NCAA tournament bid last season,  stayed close for 30 minutes by maintaining a slow offensive tempo and working to keep Cal out of transition.

“We knew those guys would compete,” Martin said. “They force you to make plays, they double the post. They got their defense back so we couldn’t get easy transition baskets.”

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Basketball: Cal vs. Kennesaw St game thread

Click here for a photo slideshow courtesy of D. Ross Cameron: http://photos.mercurynews.com/2014/11/16/photos-california-men-romp-over-kennsaw-state-93-59/#1

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After an easy victory Sunday over the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest, the Cal basketball team travels to New York City this week to take on a program that produced Carmelo Anthony.

The Golden Bears improved to 2-0 with a 93-59 win over Kennesaw State in front of an announced crowd of 4,944 at Haas Pavilion in the 2K Classic on Sunday evening. Now the Bears step up in class with a Thursday matchup against No. 23 Syracuse (2-0) in the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Cal is playing the Orange for the fourth time in six seasons, including the third year in a row. Syracuse beat the Bears 92-81 in Maui last season, 66-60 in the NCAA tournament at San Jose the year before, and 95-73 at the Garden early in the 2009-10 season.

Kennesaw, which lost by 47 points at Syracuse two nights earlier, provided the Bears little challenge. Cal was sluggish offensively early, but held the Owls scoreless for nearly 5 minutes to open the game, then stretched out to a 41-15 halftime advantage.

“I thought we got off to a slow start. I didn’t think we played California basketball the first 10-12 minutes of the game,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Too much one on one weren’t making the extra pass.

“They settled down and played the way they are capable.”

The margin reached 35 points after consecutive 3-pointers by Jordan Mathews and Dwight Tarwater pushed the score to 55-20 with just over 16 minutes left.

Point guard Tyrone Wallace, who scored a career-high 22 in the Friday opener against Alcorn State, had another solid all-around game with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Mathews had 16 points to go with seven rebounds, Jabari Bird added 15 points and seven rebounds and Tarwater scored 10.

The Bears understand Syracuse and its long, aggressive 2-3 zone defense will present a much more difficult test.

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Basketball: Cal-Alcorn State game thread

Click here to read my game story. And here for a photo slide show courtesy of Ray Chavez.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 91, Alcorn State 57. Wallace had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Mathews scored 18 and and Jabari Bird contributed 12 points and a career-best nine assists in the opener of the 2K Classic. Senior David Kravish added 13 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots, and graduate student Dwight Tarwater, a transfer from Cornell, came off the bench to score 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Christian Behrens contributed 10 points.

The announced crowd of 7,212 included Pac-12 Networks analyst Mike Montgomery, who coached the Bears for six seasons before retiring last spring. Martin was hired as his successor after guiding Tennessee into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

The Bears, who led by as many as 40 points late, shot 52 percent from the field, made 10 3-point baskets and had 26 assists on 37 field goals.

Cal faces Kennesaw State on Sunday, then treks to New York City to play No. 23  Syracuse on Thursday in the 2K semifinals.

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Basketball: Cal wins Martin’s exhibition debut

Jordan Mathews and Tyrone Wallace each scored 21 points and Cal won coach Cuonzo Martin’s exhibition debut with a 94-50 rout of Cal State East Bay on Friday night at Haas Pavilion.

“Well, I think the key for us is to just play hard and compete, to play with a level of effort and energy. I think that’s our main focus as a team, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against,” Martin said. “Overall, I thought we did a solid job.”

The Bears held a 45-23 halftime lead over the Division II Pioneers.

Mathews, who shot 6 for 8 from the field, said the first game with Martin on the bench felt very much the same as practice.

“It was pretty intense. I feel like it’s going to be intense all year,” Mathews said. “He’s very similar to how he is in practice. He’s very intense in practice and that intensity carries over to us. He tells us ‘if you aren’t going 100 percent the whole game you are coming right out.”

David Kravish scored 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting and had five rebounds and Jabari Bird contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Wallace started at point guard, flanked in the backcourt by Mathews and Bird, with Kravish and Christian Behrens up front. Behrens had six points and seven rebounds.

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Basketball: Bears’ season ends with last-second 67-65 loss at SMU in NIT quarterfinals

Justin Cobbs hit a go-ahead 3-point shot with 15.4 seconds left, but the Bears couldn’t close out a win at SMU in their NIT quarterfinal game.

Nic Moore answered with a 3-pointer of his own with six seconds left and the Mustangs claimed a 67-65 win and a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals.

The Bears’ season ends at 21-14.

Cal trailed by as many as seven points early in the second half, but rallied behind a 20-point performance from freshman Jabari Bird. Cobbs seemed to delivered his third game-winning shot in two years before Moore came through for the Mustangs (26-9).  

Cobbs had 18 points and seven assists in his final game for Cal. The senior point guard moved into second place on Cal’s career assists list with 531, passing Jerome Randle (524). He trails only Keith Smith, who had 546 in four seasons 1987 through ’90.

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