Women’s basketball: No. 15 Bears rout Pacific in opener

Sophomore Courtney Range scored a career-high 27 points and the No. 15 Cal women opened their season with an 84-64 win at Pacific.

Range, whose previous career high was 12 points, also grabbed 11 rebounds for her third career double-double. She shot 10 for 13 from the floor.

Senior forward Reshanda Gray had 17 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes and senior guard Brittany Boyd had 12 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Freshman forward Mikayla Cowling scored 18 points in her college debut, 17 of them in the second half. She also had seven rebounds.

The Bears improved to 23-2 all-time vs. the Tigers.


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


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.

Continue Reading


Football: Mediocrity on both sides of Big Game

Saturday’s 117th Big Game will be the first in 11 years where neither Cal nor Stanford enters with a winning record.

Both teams are 5-5 and in need of one more victory to become bowl eligible.

Not since 2003 has neither team in the rivalry had a winning record entering the Big Game. Cal was 6-6 going in that year, Stanford 4-5. The Bears won 28-16 and went on to beat Virginia Tech 52-49 at the Insight Bowl to finish 8-6.

The Bears want to reclaim The Axe after four straight wins by Stanford. The Cardinal routed Cal 63-13 last season and has outscored the Bears 163 to 58 the past four years.

Also at stake Saturday in Berkeley is second place in the Pac-12 North. A victory would lift the Bears to 4-5 in the conference, assuring them no worse than a tie for second. Stanford, which is 3-4, plays one more Pac-12 game the following week, at home against UCLA.

Cal’s season finale on Nov. 29 is at home against BYU, a nonconference foe.

The Big Game kicks off Saturday at 1 p.m. and will be televised on FoxSports1.


Basketball: Bears aim for second 2K Classic win

Fresh off a 91-57 win over Alcorn State in its opening game Friday night, Cal takes on Kennesaw State in its second game of the 2K Classic on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Owls arrive in Berkeley after suffering an 89-42 loss Friday night at Syracuse.

And they will take on the Bears without coach Jimmy Lallathin, serving a one-game suspension for NCAA rules violations.

Cal is a 24.5-point favorite to beat the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest.

Kennesaw was just 6-25 a year ago, including two wins over non-Division I foes, and finished last in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Lallathin was installed as head coach midway through last season.

The Owls return all five starters from that team, but were overwhelmed by Syracuse, which Cal faces on Thursday in the 2K semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse forced the Owls into 25 turnovers and held them to 33-percent shooting. Kennesaw State was outscored 50-14 in the paint and was outrebounded 56-26.

Cal jumped out to a 15-0 lead over Alcorn in coach Cuonzo Martin’s debut and led by as many as 40 points. Six Cal players scored in double figures for the Bears, led by junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who had a career-high 22.


Football: Big Game set for 1 p.m. kickoff

Saturday’s Big Game at Memorial Stadium has been set for a 1 p.m. kickoff, Cal announced Saturday night.

The game will be aired on FoxSports 1.

Both Cal and Stanford will enter the game still needing one more victory to become eligible. Cal is 5-5 overall, 3-5 in the Pac-12 after its 38-30 loss at USC on Thursday night. Stanford is 5-5, 3-4 in conference play following a 20-17 double-overtime loss on Saturday to Utah.


Volleyball: Bears top No. 21 USC for 1st Pac-12 win

We haven’t devoted any space in BearTalk to the Cal women’s volleyball team this season, but the Bears finally delivered some news I thought you might enjoy: Christina Higgins had 22 kills and Cal upset No. 21 USC in five sets on the road Friday for its first Pac-12 win of the season.

The Bears prevailed 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 15-13 for their first conference victory after 14 losses.

It also was Cal’s first road win vs. USC in 10 years.

Coach Rich Feller, who has directed the Bears to 12 consecutive NCAA tournament bids including two Final Fours, was happy for his team.

“They’ve stuck with it and worked hard,” he said. “They’ve dealt with the disappointment, and for them to get this kind of victory is very rewarding for them and our program. It’s proof that we are a solid, good team.”


Basketball: Busy night as curtain lifts on Pac-12

It wasn’t just Cal that enjoyed a big basketball opening night.

The Pac-12 went 10-1 on Friday night, with only USC abstaining. Some notable performances by familiar names, and some impressive debuts.

Here’s a rundown:

* No. 2 Arizona got 21 points from East Bay native Brandon Ashley in its 78-55 win over Mount St. Mary’s. Ashley, who missed the second half of last season after breaking his foot in a loss at Cal, shot 9 for 10 and played perhaps the best game of his career, according to coach Sean Miller.

* Stanford posted a 74-59 win over returning NCAA tournament team Wofford, despite an off-shooting night from star guard Chasson Randle. Didn’t matter because senior center Stefan Nastic scored a career-high 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Dating back to last season, Nastic is shooting 84.4 percent (!!!) from the floor on 38 for 45 and averaging 11.9 points per game over the past eight games. He is, without question, the most improved player — from freshman to senior season – in the Pac-12.

* Oregon lost just about everyone else from last season’s roster, but returning guard Joseph Young scored 32 points and got plenty of help in a 107-65 rout of Chicago State.

* UCLA had three players taken in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, but point guard Bryce Alford delivered 18 points and 12 assists and backcourt mate Norman Powell added 25 points in a 113-78 win over Montana State. Freshman forward Kevon Looney made a splash in his debut with 20 points and nine rebounds, and got to the free throw line for 17 attempts.

* Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds and Washington dispatched South Carolina State 77-59.

* Utah point guard Delon Wright is another guy who fills in all the categories — had 13 points, eight assists, four rebounds, four steals and three blocks — in a 90-72 win over Ball State. Freshman 7-footer Jakob Poeltl of Vienna, Austria, provided 18 points and 10 rebounds.

* The son of The Glove, Gary Payton II, had six points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in his first game as Oregon State beat Rice 67-54 in coach Wayne Tinkle’s debut.

* Colorado sat three starters to open the game, but Josh Scott had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-48 conquest of Drexel.

* Arizona State rode 20 points from Shaquielle McKissick to an 86-50 win over Chicago State.

*  A tough start as coach at Washington State for Ernie Kent, whose squad lost 65-52 at Texas-El Paso. The only Pac-12 team that played on the road, the Cougars had more turnovers (22) than baskets (19). Ouch.



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.

Continue Reading


Basketball: Martin, Bears ready for debut

FRIDAY: Cal vs. Alcorn State, 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion (Pac-12 Networks)

Asked this week if his team is excited and ready for Friday night’s season opener against Alcorn State, new Cal coach Cuonzo Martin gave different answers to the two questions.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Ready is one day at a time. I think as a coach you can never have enough time to get ready. But I think it’s time for us to actually begin playing games.”

After two exhibition victories, the Bears open play in the 2K Classic against the Braves of the SWAC, a team that was 12-19 a year ago with three of those victories against non-Division I opponents.

Senior forward David Kravish said fans should expect to see a Cal team that plays hard from start to finish every game.

“It’s huge for us to come out with energy. I think there were times last year when we came out flat. Or we came out really well and go on a run, then our energy would die down,” he said.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is bringing a constant energy, a high energy all the time.”

Continue Reading


Football: Cal-USC game thread

Bowl eligibility for the Cal football team will have to wait for another day.

The Golden Bears were no match for USC when it mattered Thursday night, losing 38-30 in front of 64,615 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and a nationwide ESPN audience.

Cal was hoping for a sixth win and the chance to play in the postseason for the first time in three years. Instead, the Trojans prevailed for the 11th straight time – matching their longest win streak in the century-old series.

The Bears trailed 31-2 late in the first half before making things briefly interesting late. Jared Goff’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 29-yarder to Stephen Anderson with 1:36 left, got Cal within eight points.

USC averted further drama by recovering Cal’s onside kick try. The Trojans then ran out the clock.

“It’s discouraging because we lost,” Goff said. “We played well at times and probably worse at more times.

“If you’re going to beat a team like USC, or any good team in this conference, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot,” he said of the Bears’ poor start. ”It put us too far behind.”

Nothing worked for Cal early in this one. Not only was the Bears’ beleaguered defense once more taken apart, but their high-scoring offense was stifled by the Trojans.

Goff was hounded much of the night and running back Daniel Lasco often found nowhere to run. Goff finished with 279 passing yards, but had just 96 at halftime. Lasco ran for 53 of his 86 yards after halftime when the Trojans were content to protect a lead.

“It shows that we’re still not there,” Lasco said.

The Bears (5-5, 3-5 Pac-12) have two more chances to secure bowl eligibility, beginning a week from Saturday against a Stanford team that beat them 63-13 a year ago. Cal closes its season a week after that with a home game against BYU.

Continue Reading