Los Angeles - California certainly deserves credit for not packing it in at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night. Trailing by 24 points in the second half (58-34), the Golden Bears put on a spirited late rally before going down to 4th ranked UCLA 81-71. The Bears fell to 10-5 overall, and 1-2 in Pac-12 play. UCLA is now 15-1, 2-1
Ivan Rabb had another double-double for Cal with 17 points and a career high 20 rebounds, but he didn't have nearly enough help. He had 11 points and 14 rebounds in the second half. It was Rabb's 7th double-double of the season.
"I wasn't going to lay down, they were whupping us the first half," said Rabb. "I didn't see enough fight in my team. I had to lead by example. Other guys stepped up as well, no doubt."
One of those was Don Coleman with a career high 15 points in 22 minutes. With Cal trailing by 15 (74-59), Coleman scored four buckets on aggressive drives to the rim. A right wing trey by Grant Mullins pulled the Bears to within five points, with :43.5 on the clock, but Cal got no closer. Five Bruin free throws sealed the deal.
Of Coleman, Coach Cuonzo Martin joked, "His coach has done a poor job of putting him in position to play. Don's a competitor."
Mullins had a solid game for the Bears with a team high 19 points. He was one of the few players who responded to the challenge. Charlie Moore was aggressive with 13 points, but he took 17 shots. Too many, as he converted just five. Moore also turned it over four times.
"Charlie has to settle down and get his teammates the ball," said Martin after the game. "Charlie's taking 17 shots, he's got to cut that down to maybe about 10."
Jabari Bird had a poor game by his standards. The senior leader scored just three points on one of seven shooting and just one rebound, before fouling out with seven minutes on the clock. Cal needs more from Bird to compete with upper level Pac-12 teams like UCLA.
UCLA led 44-24 at the intermission, and it could have been much worse. The Bruins put together two significant runs. An early 16-3 explosion featured seven consecutive made field goals put the home team up 26-12. Then UCLA went on a late 9-0 run that opened up a 19-point margin. Lonzo Ball's long straight-on three-point shot secured the 20-point lead for the Bruins at the break.
"We didn't play well in the first half, we didn't compete at all," said Martin. "We were a step slow, we weren't aggressive, and they were very assertive."
Bryce Alford was too much for Cal, scoring 24 points on eight of 13 shooting. Alford made five shots from beyond the arc. The highlight play of the night came during that early run, when freshman TJ Leaf flew down the lane and threw down a spectacular one-handed dunk. Leaf had 18 points and 11 boards for the Bruins.
Martin kept the team in the locker room for a long time at the halftime break. Rabb said, "He was disappointed in us. We almost laid down out there. That was unacceptable."
For the game, Cal had just seven assists and 13 turnovers. The Bruins recorded 18 assists with nine miscues. Even after their late scoring run, Cal made just 39.1% of their shots on the night.
The Bears will try to improve on this performance at #25 USC on Sunday night. Game time at the Galen Center is 7:00 PM.
"That was an unacceptable effort tonight, and we have to pick it up because SC has a great team as well," said Rabb.
- Game attendance was 13,659.
- Cal had 20 second chance points, to just 9 for UCLA.
- The Bruins had seven steals, and blocked six Cal shots.