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.