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Basketball: Arizona game thread

Click here for our game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 87, Cal 59. The No. 3 Wildcats (26-2, 12-3) hand the Bears (18-10, 9-6) their worst loss of the season, avenging their loss at Berkeley on Feb. 1 that knocked Arizona out of No. 1. Worst news for Cal: Freshman Jordan Mathews injured his left ankle or foot with 1:22 left.

After Stanford’s loss at Arizona State, there is now a four-way tie for third place, with Cal, ASU, Stanford and Colorado all 9-6.

Cobbs was Cal’s only player in double figures with 12 points, and he had merely an average game made worse by a technical foul. The Bears made 10 of their first 16 shots, then were 14 for 39 the rest of the way. They fell behind by 20 early in the second half, but got back to 55-47 when Tyrone Wallace made a 3-pointer with 12:20 left. Cal was outscored 32-12 the rest of the way.

Arizona clobbered the Bears on the boards, 42-25. Cal had 14 turnovers. The Bears shot 4 for 16 from the 3-point line. That’s a lot of bad there.

Nick Johnson, who had just four points in Berkeley, finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. PG T.J. McConnell had 13 points and six assists. Aaron Gordon scored 13 points and made 5 of 6 FTs, earning big cheers from the McKale crowd that recalls him making just 2 of 11 in a recent game. And Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench to provide 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Arizona not only left no doubt it’s far superior to Cal, it made a strong argument it’s as good as any team in the country. ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi at halftime projected the Cats as the No. 1 overall seed into the NCAA tournament.

And Cal’s postseason prospects? Well, this doesn’t help, but the Bears probably still need to win just two of their remaining three regular-season games to be in good shape. A win at Arizona State on Saturday would be huge for them.

They’ll have to be substantially better than they were in this one.

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Basketball: Jabari Bird finds his stroke, his smile

* 6 p.m. Wednesday at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz. (ESPN2)

Jabari Bird’s reaction to hitting back-to-back 3-point shots against USC?

“It was relieving,” he said.

For his teammates and coaches also, no doubt. But certainly for Bird.

The former Salesian High prep All-American had made just 2 of 22 shots from the 3-point arc in Pac-12 play entering Sunday’s home game vs. the Trojans.

Now he enters Wednesday night’s matchup at Arizona with something else.

“I’m going into that game with a lot of confidence,” Bird said.

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12

Basketball: USC game thread

Click here to read my game story. And here for the box score.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 77, USC 64. The Bears used a 24-8 finishing run to improve to 18-9, 9-5 in the Pac-12, moving them into a tie for third place with Stanford. Cobbs finished with 22 points and seven assists, Kreklow had 12 points, Jabari Bird scored eight of his 10 points in the final 3:10 and Tyrone Wallace scored 10. Kravish had nine points, 10 rebounds and five of Cal’s nine blocked shots.

3:59 2nd H: Cal in midst of 11-0 run and leads 64-56. USC hasn’t scored since 8:06.

8:29 2nd H: A fastbreak drive by Howard and USC leads 54-53.

11:52 2nd H: Solomon picked up his fourth foul with 13:22 left and sat down. Cobbs gives Cal a 48-44 lead with a drive and free throw at 12:09. USC cannot have much confidence, having lost seven in a row. But the Trojans know this much: They already have beaten Cal once this year.

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Women’s basketball: Reshanda Gray, Bears topple USC 76-67 for 6th straight victory

The No. 18 Cal women beat USC 76-67 in Los Angeles to retain their sole grip on sescond place in the Pac-12.

The Bears (20-7, 12-4) have won six straight.

Reshanda Gray had 22 points and 11 rebounds for her sixth consecutive double-double and Afure Jemerigbe scored 16. Brittany Boyd contributed eight points, eight rebounds and five assists, moving to third on Cal’s career assist list with 474.

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Basketball: A must-win for Bears? You betcha

* 5 p.m. Sunday at Haas Pavilion (FoxSports1)

Is it too simple to suggest Cal must beat USC on Sunday evening or say goodbye to a potential NCAA tournament at-large bid?

Mathematically, a defeat wouldn’t eliminate the Golden Bears (17-9, 9-5).

Realistically, Cal cannot afford a second loss to the last-place Trojans (10-16, 1-12).

There just would be no way to explain away another defeat to a team that has beaten no one else since the calendar flipped to 2014.

To a team playing this weekend without suspended top scorer and rebounder Byron Wesley.

To a team that has won just one road game all season.

To a team coming off a 21-point loss at Stanford.

Cal began the Pac-12 schedule with five straight wins, three of them on the road. The Bears are 3-5 since then. That spiral of inconsistency began with a 77-69 loss to the Trojans.

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Women’s basketball: Cal tops UCLA

The Cal women remain alone in second place in the Pac-12 after a 77-72 win at UCLA.

Guard Brittany Boyd had 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Bears (19-7, 11-4).

Reshanda Gray had 13 points and 15 rebounds, Afure Jemerigbe scored 15 points, and Gennifer Brandon came off the bench for 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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Basketball: UCLA game thread

Click here to read my game story.

FINAL SCORE: UCLA 86, Cal 66. The No. 23 Bruins (21-5, 10-3) used an 18-3 run to pull away and bury the Bears (17-9, 8-5). UCLA led by as many as 27 points. Adams scored 28 for UCLA. Mathews led the Bears with 16. 

13:09 2nd H: Big trouble for the Bears — UCLA leads 61-44 and seems able to score whenever it wants. Especially Adams, who has 18 points.

15:50 2nd H: A 7-2 UCLA burst, punctuated by a 3-pointer from David Wear, and it’s 55-41. Kyle Anderson has three fouls for the Bruins, but has remained in the game. Adams has 14 points for UCLA, which seems able to score from almost anywhere on the floor against the Bears. Gonna be a long climb back for Cal.

HALFTIME SCORE: UCLA 44, CAL 32. Jordan Adams hits a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in the half and the Bruins equal their biggest lead of the half. The Bears had the margin down to four points before UCLA outscored them 10-2 over the final 3 minutes. Adams has 12 points for UCLA, Bryce Alford and Travis Wear each have seven and Anderson has four points, five rebounds and four assists. Cal, which shot just 34.5 percent in the first UCLA game, still having trouble: 39.3 percent in the half. Bird and Mathews with nine and eight points, respectively. Cobbs finally got into the act — he has five points and five assists. 

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Basketball: With 2nd place on the line, Bears promise they’ll to be ready for UCLA

* Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

A crowd of more than 11,000 will be on hand at Haas Pavilion to watch Cal take on No. 23 UCLA, and maybe that will provide more motivation than . . . a large pepperoni?

Asked this week whether a 76-64 loss at Pauley Pavilion last month will fuel the Bears, coach Mike Montgomery laughed and suggested, “Our guys, pizza fuels them.”

In other words, he can’t always get a read on when this team will be ready to burst from the chute, fired up to play.

“I would think that just given how poorly we played on that L.A. weekend,” he said, “there would be some kind of `we can play better than that’ thought process.

“Getting the road sweep (in Washington) puts us back in the conversation, there should be some excitement from that. UCLA’s very good.

Senior Justin Cobbs wants to assure his coach the Bears will be ready.

“It’s time to play,” he said. “We’re fighting for a Pac-12 championship now. If you don’t have a little fire under you, something is wrong. We’ll come out aggressive.

“We know the importance of this game.”

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Basketball: Bears complete weekend sweep in Washington with 72-59 comeback win at UW

Click here to read our correspondent’s game story.

Disclaimer: I was not in Seattle for today’s Cal-Washington game.

Cal rallies from an early 12-point hole and controls the action the rest of the way for a 72-59 win at Washington. The Bears (17-8, 8-4 Pac-12) complete a season sweep of the Huskies (14-12, 6-7) and a weekend road sweep in Washington.

Cal became the first Pac-12 team to beat Washington in Seattle and improved its own conference road record to 5-2. The Bears are tied for third in the Pac-12 standings with Arizona State, one game behind UCLA, which beat Utah on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears return home to face UCLA on Wednesday, then USC on Sunday. Those two opponents accounted for Cal’s only two road losses of the conference season so far.

Tyrone Wallace had a terrific game for the Bears with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and aggressive defense. Richard Solomon finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, and Justin Cobbs had 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Cobbs, who left the game briefly with 9:59 left after tweaking his right ankle, returned two minutes later and seems fine.

Cal outscored the Huskies 57-34 over the final 46 1/2 minutes of the game after trailing 27-15. A big key: The Bears’ ability to get easy baskets in transition.

They did that by forcing 14 turnovers, which they turned into 20 points.

The Bears held UW star C.J. Wilcox — the Pac-12′s No. 2 scorer at 19.2 ppg — to eight points, equaling his season-low. Wilcox shot 4 for 12 and missed all six of his 3-point tries.

The Huskies, led by 21 points from Andrew Andrews, shot just 36 percent for the game and were 4 for 21 from beyond the arc.

Cal, being outrebounded 21-9 at one point early in the game wound up down just 41-39 in that department.

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Basketball: Bears go for Washington sweep

* Saturday, noon at Seattle (Pac-12 Networks)

Cal (16-8, 7-4) goes for its first road sweep in Washington since 2009 when it visits Washington (14-11, 6-6).

UPDATE: The Bears sit alone in fourth place entering play Saturday after Arizona State move ahead of them at 8-4 with a 69-66 double-overtime win over Arizona.

Coach Mike Montgomery said the Bears’ overtime win Wednesday at Washington State was one they had to have. They need this one, too.

The crowd below Arizona is congested, so there is little margin for error. UW takes a 5-0 record in conference home games into Saturday, but the Bears have been solid on the road, 4-2 in league play.

Cal routed UW 82-56 in Berkeley, one of the Bears’ best performances of the season. Five players scored in double digits, Cal dominated the boards and held the Huskies to 30-percent shooting.

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