Basketball: Cal overcomes shooting woes to topple ECU

Warts and all, it was a victory Cal coach Cuonzo Martin was happy to pocket.

The No. 15 Bears labored against East Carolina’s zone defense, shooting 3 for 23 from the 3-point arc and turning the ball over 15 times. They also missed 12 free throws and allowed the Pirates to stay close until pulling away for a 70-62 win in front of an announced crowd of 8,658 fans at Haas Pavilion on Friday night.

“I’d always like to be on the winning side of learning lessons rather than the losing side. You want this early,” Martin said.

Freshmen Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown each had double-doubles and senior Tyrone Wallace made four free throws in the final 40 seconds as the Bears held off the visitors from the American Athletic Conference.

“We just have to get better,” said Wallace, who finished with 20 points. “I think it’s good to be tested. Our shots weren’t falling. We faced a little adversity. But never once did we have our heads down.”

Rabb overcame foul trouble with post 14 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Brown had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Bears crushed the Pirates (2-1) on the boards, outrebounding them 45-26, including 19 offensive rebounds that led to 24 second-chance points.

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Basketball: A familiar faces watches Brown and Bears in win over UC Santa Barbara

Freshman Jaylen Brown had a familiar face from home watching him at Haas Pavilion on Monday night. A familiar face for Cal fans, too.

Former Bears star Shareef Adbur-Rahim – who attended Brown’s high school in Marietta, Georgia – was courtside for No. 15 Cal’s 85-67 victory over UC Santa Barbara.

“He can be as good as he wants to be,” said Abdur-Rahim, who was Pac-10 Player of the Year as a freshman 20 years ago. “He has all the tools. He’s very talented, works hard. It’s up to him how good he wants to be.”

Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward, had 17 points and seven rebounds and senior Tyrone Wallace provided 24 points and six assists as the Bears (2-0) ran out to a 19-point halftime lead and never were threatened.

With Warriors forward Harrison Barnes also in the crowd, Jordan Mathews scored 17 points, freshman Ivan Rabb had 12 – including 10 for 10 from the free throw line – and Jabari Bird scored 10 as all five starters reached double digits for the second straight game.

Cal was lax to start the second half and UCSB crept within 56-44 with 14 minutes left. “I thought it was unacceptable,” Wallace said. “We came out a little flat and they were aggressive.”

It was no surprise to Abdur-Rahim.

“They’re good but it looks like they’re still figuring out how to play together,” said Abdur-Rahim, who averaged 18.1 points during a 13-year NBA career. “It’s still early in the year. I think they’ll probably be one of the most talented teams that Cal has had. It’s exciting.”

Abdur-Rahim, 38, often watched Brown at Wheeler High because his own youngest brother played on the team. He said fans shouldn’t be concerned that Brown at times has appeared to be pressing a bit.

“There’s a lot of expectations and he probably wants to do really well. That’ll happen,” Abdur-Rahim said.

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Basketball: Bears rout Rice in promising opener


The No. 14 Cal basketball team gave a curious opening-night crowd of 10,530 plenty of reasons to return to Haas Pavilion this season.

The Bears introduced freshman Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown to a game-night atmosphere on the way to a 97-65 victory over Rice on Friday night.

Rabb, whose most recent official game on this floor was in a high school state championship win for nearby Bishop O’Dowd, had 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots over 16 minutes in his college debut.

Brown, a consensus top-5 national prospect out of suburban Atlanta, scored 14 points, despite four fouls and a second-half bloody nose that limited him to 15 minutes on the floor.

“They showed me they’re ready,” junior guard Jordan Mathews said of the two ultra-hyped freshmen. “They showed us all they’re ready.”

The buzz of expectation is significant for this team, which was didn’t even make the NIT last year but was projected by three ESPN analysts as a Final Four team. Cal’s most recent visit to the national semifinals was 1960 – when John F. Kennedy was a candidate for president and Wilt Chamberlain an NBA rookie.

With three starting guards back to provide leadership and stability, second-year coach Cuonzo Martin has a roster with more talent than any Cal team since the days of Jason Kidd more than two decades ago.

“It was definitely a great experience playing in the first game,” Brown said. “There was a lot of excitement building up. I had a good time. Ready for the next one. We’re just scratching the surface.”

Rabb, who said Martin had the team “overprepared,” was unhappy with his three fouls but thought he otherwise played well. “A few times I got a little confused out there,” he said.

Martin was satisfied with both rookies given the first time out.

“Offensively, they both played well,” Martin said. “Every game will present something different for those guys.”

Senior all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace provided 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the visitors from Conference USA. Wallace shot 9 for 12 from the field.

Junior Jordan Mathews scored 13 points – including 11 in the first half – and junior Jabari Bird contributed 11.

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Basketball: Hype gives way to tipoff as Bears take on Rice

All the preseason hype will move to the side Friday night when the Cal basketball team opens its season against Rice at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8:30 pm on Pac-12 Networks.

The buildup has been considerable for the 14th-ranked Golden Bears.

Three ESPN analysts have gone as far as projecting Cal as a Final Four team.

The last time that happened – in 1960 — JFK hadn’t yet been elected president and Wilt Chamberlain was an NBA rookie.

Second-year coach Cuonzo Martin is neither embracing the attention nor shunning it.

“As far as the predictions, we control what we control,” he said. “As a coach, I don’t try to steer those guys clear of that information. You can’t shelter guys their whole life. That’s information. We get it, we discuss and move on.”

So, no worries that his team – including highly touted freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb – might let all this go to their heads?

“The way they walk, I don’t see it,” Martin said. “They walk with a level of humility as a team.”

Senior Tyrone Wallace, the Bears’ all-Pac-12 point guard, says he mostly ignores the buzz.

I don’t really pay attention to it, so it’s easy for me,” he said. “We just try to keep our heads straight and focus on what’s in front of us.

“The most important thing is we believe in ourselves.”

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Football: Oregon thrashes Bears 44-28

The rain didn’t matter this time.

Oregon spotted Cal to a 10-point lead Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, then took charge with a 31-point first-half blitz on the way to a 44-28 victory in front of 56,604 fans.

Two years after the Ducks drowned the Bears 55-16 in an Oregon downpour, it was Cal’s inclement play – not the sometimes rainy conditions – that set the tone.

Oregon ran up 446 yards in the first half – more than the Bears had given up in six of their previous eight games — and sent Cal (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) to its fourth straight defeat. The Ducks wound up with a school-record 777 yards of total offense.

“We did not play well defensively,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I didn’t think we played well on either side of the ball. It didn’t have anything to do with the weather.”

The Bears get another shot at a sixth win and bowl eligibility next Saturday in Berkeley against an Oregon State team that dropped to 0-6 in Pac-12 play after a 41-0 loss to UCLA. Cal has now lost seven straight games over two seasons when trying to become bowl eligible.

“It’s going to test our character. It’s something coach Dykes just talked to us about. How are we going to respond? It’s a three-week season,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “If we want to go to a bowl game we’ve got to start winning.”

The Bears still have not beaten any of the league’s perennial heavyweights in three seasons under Dykes. They are now 0-11 against Oregon, USC, UCLA and Stanford in three seasons, and 1-8 in the month of November.

The Ducks (6-3, 4-2) beat the Bears for the seventh straight time, and have outscored them 317-132 during the streak.

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Football: Frustrated Golden Bears lose third in a row as drought vs. USC reaches 12 games


Disappointment and anger after its two previous defeats turned to unbridled frustration for Cal on Saturday after a 27-21 loss to USC in front of 52,060 fans in the Joe Roth Memorial Game.

There was frustration over an official’s call but even more over another offensive performance that has the Bears wondering what has gone wrong.

“I think we’re all frustrated,” coach Sonny Dykes said after the Bears lost their third game in a row and dropped their 12th straight to the Trojans. “We should be playing better than we’re playing on offense, no question about it. We’ve got to get it figured out.”

The Bears, who averaged 51 points in their first three games of the season, were held to season-low totals for yards (389) and points and have failed to reach 25 points the past three games.

“As an offense, we believe we’re underachieving tremendously,” senior receiver Bryce Treggs added. “We have way too much talent, we’re way too good to only be scoring 21 points.”

The Bears (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) had so many possibilities after starting the season 5-0. They were disappointed with themselves for turning the ball over six times in a 30-24 road loss to then-unbeaten Utah and upset by their worst effort of the season in a 40-24 loss at UCLA.

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Basketball: Bears beat WSU, end 6-game skid

FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, WSU 67. Cal ends its six-game losing streak with a much-needed win. Wallace had 26 points — his best game in weeks — and Mathews came alive when the Bears needed him most, scoring nine of their final 12 points. Chauca had a career-high 10 points to go with three assists and three rebounds off the bench. Bird show signs of coming alive with 12 points and eight rebounds. Cal (12-9, 2-6) won despite the fact that through 36 minutes it got just four points combined from Kravish and Mathews. After just four Cal players scored in Saturday’s loss to Arizona, nine different Bears got in the scorebook. And all nine scored in the second half.

For a team that hasn’t had success lately, the Bears showed some toughness, losing all of a 12-point, second-half lead, then outscoring the Cougars (9-11, 3-5) by a 12-2 margin over the final 3 1/2 minutes. WSU did not make a field goal after 5:47 was left to play.

Cal won the rebounding battle 40-32 and had just four turnovers after the first 11 minutes of the game. The Bears had a 32-20 scoring edge in the paint, thanks mostly to aggressive drives by Wallace and Mathews. The Bears shot 50 percent and held the Cougars to 33 percent, including 26.7 percent in the second half.

Coupled with USC’s triple-overtime loss to Colorado, the Bears climb out of last place in the Pac-12 standings.

Next: Sunday at Washington, noon. A Super Bowl pre-game show.

0:25.2 2nd H: Cal 75, WSU 67. Kingsley Okoroh just hit two free throws — he was 4 for 10 for the season — and Cal will win. Mathews has nine points in the final 3:13.

1:34 2nd H: Cal 70, WSU 67. Mathews, scoreless through nearly 37 minutes, has scored Cal’s last six points, including a 3-point play, giving the Bears their three-point margin.

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Basketball: ASU game thread

My game story:

Rock bottom doesn’t describe the Cal basketball team’s first-half performance in a 79-45 loss to Arizona State in front of an announced crowd of 7,469 fans on Thursday night.

The Bears went 13 minutes, 2 seconds without scoring, allowing the Sun Devils to zoom into a 34-13 halftime lead in a matchup of teams that entered the night in a three-way tie for last place in the Pac-12 standings.

By the time it was over, Cal had absorbed its second-worst home defeat ever, its worst since a 36-point loss to ASU in 1979.

And the Bears had a seven-day break between games to prepare for this.

“We worked on our offense, trying to get some flow,” David Kravish said of those practices. “That didn’t happen.”

First-year coach Cuonzo Martin took the heat afterward.

“It’s my job as a coach to get our guys ready to play and compete. I didn’t do a very good job of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I saw this coming.”

The Bears (11-8, 1-5) have now lost seven of eight games since a 10-1 start and are tied with USC for last Pac-12. And guess what? No. 7 Arizona comes to Haas Pavilion on Saturday night.

“A new day tomorrow,” said guard Jordan Mathews, who led Cal with 11 points. “We’ve got to get ready for Arizona.”

A year ago, the Bears stunned the top-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats 60-58 at Haas.

“We played really hard, we played with a lot of energy, we believed in ourselves,” Kravish said of that victory. Asked if that belief is now shaken, he added, “I believe in every one of these guys.”

Martin stressed, “It’s one loss,” then recalled losing by 41 points to Indiana when he was a freshman at Purdue. “The key is you have to learn from it.”

The Bears’ first-half point total exceeded the five points they scored while shooting 2 for 25 in the opening period of a 57-44 loss to Notre Dame four years ago.

But for sheer lack of artistry, this one was stunning.

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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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