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: Bears return home to face ex-aide Travis DeCuire, Montana . . . likely without ailing Jabari Bird

Cal (5-1) faces Montana (2-3) on Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion in a homecoming game for ex-Bears associate head coach Travis DeCuire. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Seems likely the Bears will be without sophomore guard Jabari Bird, who sustained a foot injury during Sunday’s 64-57 win at Fresno State and watched practice Tuesday from the side while wearing a protective boot.

Coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters after practice that Bird “felt a little pain” in his foot Sunday, but stopped short of declaring him out for Wednesday night. “He’s day to day,” Martin said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Martin declined to provide details when asked about the nature of the injury. Bird scored just four points at Fresno State, shooting 1 for 9 from the field. He’s averaging 11.7 for the season.

If Bird does not play, point guard Sam Singer or wing Roger Moute a Bidias will start.

Cal gets some reinforcements in the backcourt just in time as freshman guard Brandon Chauca is eligible to make his college debut. Chauca sat out the Bears’ first six games while awaiting clearance from the NCAA.

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Basketball: Bird questionable for Montana with foot injury

Sophomore guard Jabari Bird is questionable for Cal’s nonconference basketball game Wednesday night against Montana because of a foot injury, the school announced.

Bird is the Bears’ fourth-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game, but shot just 1 for 9 and scored a season-low four points Sunday in a 64-57 win at Fresno State.

Cal did not reveal the nature or severity of Bird’s injury or when the injury occurred.

The former McDonald’s All-American from Salesian High in Richmond averaged 8.3 points as a freshman last season.

The Bears (5-1) face Montana (2-3) on Wednesday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 7 p.m.


Football: Bears get commitment from JC safety


True to his word, coach Sonny Dykes landed help for the Bears’ defensive secondary on Sunday, securing an oral commitment from Derron Williams-Brown, a freshman safety at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College, Scout.com reported.

According to the Mesa athletic website, Williams-Brown had three interceptions this season on a 5-5 team, earning second-team All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference honors.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Williams-Brown would have three years of football eligibility at Cal.

“He’s a big, physical kid with good ball skills,” Mesa coach Ryan Felker said. “This is a tough league to come in and be successful as a freshman.

“He’s a workhorse,” Felker said. “He’s going to outwork anybody, do what he needs to do.”

Williams-Brown had three interceptions and caught 11 touchdown passes as a wide receiver as a junior in the fall of 2012 at Fairfax High in Laveen, Arizona, according to MaxPreps.com.

Williams-Brown missed his senior season at Fairfax with a toe injury, according to Felker, and as a result fell off the radar a bit with college recruiters. “He didn’t fall off ours,” Felker said.

Here is a video highlight reel of Williams-Brown, courtesy of Hudl.com.


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 takes aim at Fresno State

Fresh off a 20-point home victory over Cal Poly, Cal (4-1) treks to the Central Valley for a Sunday afternoon matchup with Fresno State (1-5) at Save Mart Center. Tipoff is 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

The Bulldogs are traditionally tough at home, but this is a game the Bears should win. Fresno is hoping to avoid a 1-6 start to its season for the first time since 1950-51.

Fresno lost to Evansville, East Carolina and Marist at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, this week. Its only victory so far — and only home game — was a 93-55 conquest of Bristol, a Division II opponent from Anaheim.

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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: Freshman Chauca cleared as of Dec. 1

Cal got word from the NCAA on Tuesday that freshman guard Brandon Chauca has received eligibility certification and is cleared to play in games beginning Dec. 1. He is expected to play in his first game Dec. 3 against Montana.

Chauca has missed the first four games and will sit out both Wednesday’s home game against Cal Poly and Sunday’s game at Fresno State. He received his clearance following a penalty of sitting out 20 percent of the schedule.

Cal did not specify the reason certification took so long for Chauca, who attended four during schools during his high school years.

Here is coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement:

“Brandon Chauca has been practicing with the team and will be eligible to participate officially in game activity as of December 1, 2014. We have worked with the NCAA regarding an eligibility certification issue that has since been resolved. We look forward to having Brandon able to compete with us as we move through the season.”

Martin said he intends to play Chauca, not redshirt the 5-foot-9 native of Alexandria, Virginia.


Basketball: Bears back home to face Cal Poly

Back after a split of two games in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Golden Bears (3-1) take on Cal Poly (2-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal knocked off then-23rd-ranked Syracuse 73-59 before absorbing a 71-55 loss to a Texas team that climbed to No. 7 in this week’s AP Top-25.

“I thought it was a good trip,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We would have liked to win two games, but the reality is we played solid basketball.”

Junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 13 points and 5 assists in the 2K Classic games, said the experience will pay dividends.

“I think it definitely does give us confidence to know that when we’re playing well, we can play with any team,” Wallace said.

Sophomore guard Jordan Mathews stopped short of suggesting the Bears got validation from their win over Syracuse, which had beaten Cal the previous two seasons.

“I’m always confident in my team. I thought this was a step towards us being really good,” Mathews said. He said the Bears learned “how good we can be and the level of intensity you have to play with every night.”

Cal Poly was the Cinderella story of the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Mustangs finished the regular season at 10-19, then reeled off three straight wins in the Big West tournament to claim the league’s automatic bid.

They beat Texas Southern in a “First Four” game at Dayton, Ohio, then were vanquished by top seed Wichita State, 64-37. Two starters return from that team, but nine players who totaled 22 points against the Shockers will be in uniform Wednesday night.


Football: BYU game set for 1:30 p.m. kickoff

Cal announced tonight that its game against BYU next Saturday at Memorial Stadium has been set for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal (5-6, 3-6 Pac-12) must beat the Cougars to become bowl eligible.

BYU (7-4) tuned up for the Cal game with a 64-0 win Saturday over Savannah State, an 0-12 FCS team that actually gave up 83 points in a game earlier this season.