Cal Comes Up Short in Las Vegas

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By Dan Lachman, Staff Writer
Posted Mar 10, 2017
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2017 BearInsider.com


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Las Vegas, NV - For the second straight year, bad luck visited the California Golden Bears in post-season play. Jabari Bird went down with an apparent concussion after falling to the floor sixty-five seconds into the game,

and the short-handed Bears were eliminated from the Pac-12 Tournament by the #5 ranked and top seed Oregon Ducks 73-65 in a hard-fought game. Oregon advances to the final of the Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday night.

"I thought they did a great job competing, but that's what we're supposed to do," said Coach Cuonzo Martin. "That is part of our program, so that part should be understood. But it (Bird's injury) is a big loss, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that level of production."

Bird went to the bench after Oregon's Jordan Bell pump faked under the basket, and Bird jumped to try and defend the shot. He lost his balance and fell to the floor, holding his head. He went to the bench, with a towel around his head due to the fact that he was bleeding. Bird was taken to the locker room, and then to University Medical Center under concussion protocols.

Cal fought hard without their best offensive player in the first two games of the tournament, but they came up short. Grant Mullins was superb in 39 minutes, scoring 23 points on 7 of 8 shooting, with a perfect 5 for 5 from three-point territory. Mullins also had 4 assists and 0 turnovers.

Charlie Moore had 15 points, but he also demonstrated some of the challenges of being a freshman point guard with 7 turnovers. The Ducks double-teamed Ivan Rabb all night, and he was held to 11 points. Rabb hit three mid-range jump shots in the final 12 minutes of the game.

Moore came out on fire, and Cal built a quick 8-0 lead with the freshman scoring all eight points. Tyler Dorsey got the Ducks going, and they eventually took the lead 24-23 on a free throw by Chris Boucher at the 6:24 mark.

Back to back treys by Mullins regained the lead for the Bears, but his second 3-ball was Cal's last field goal of the half. The field goal drought lasted for 4:38. Oregon led 36-33 at the half.

Considering they were essentially playing the half without Bird, and the Ducks swarming defense took Rabb out (4 points), Cal was in a decent position.

Cal's offensive woes continued after the intermission. Okoroh slammed one home on a nice dish by Moore on Cal's second possession, but the Bears missed their next six shots and went almost five minutes without a field goal.

By the time Mullins hit a floater to end the drought, the Ducks had built a ten point lead, 49-39. A trey by Tyler Dorsey extended Oregon's lead to 54-41 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the game. Dorsey led the Ducks with 23 points, and made five of six from distance.

Cal began to chip away. Mullins hit a three to make it 59-55 at the 8:53 mark, but a flagrant one foul on Don Coleman enabled the Ducks to extend the lead to seven (62-55). Another 3-ball by Mullins brought the Bears to within four points again with just over four minutes showing on the clock.

Dillon Brooks had spent almost 13 minutes on the bench in the second half with four fouls, but he scored on a strong drive to the rim. Rabb answered with a jumper, and the Ducks lead was down to 66-63.

Brooks missed, and the rebound went out off Dorsey, but Moore double dribbled on Cal's possession and Martin took a timeout. Dylan Ennis missed a three, but Kingsley Okoroh missed badly and Brooks was fouled with 1:18 left. He made one of two, and the lead was four.

Stephen Domingo missed an open trey from the right corner, but the ball went out off Oregon. Moore was fouled with 45.5 seconds to play, and converted both to make it a two-point game, 67-65.

The Ducks went to Ennis, and he delivered. He drove to the basket with his right hand, and scored as he was fouled by Okoroh with 22.6 seconds on the clock. His free throw completed the old-fashioned three point play and made the score 70-65.

Mullins missed a contested jumper (his only miss of the night from the field), and Ennis rebounded. Two free throws by Ennis sealed it with 12 seconds remaining. Brooks added a free throw for the final eight-point margin.

"I think we're an NCAA Tournament team," said Martin. "Now it is for them to decide. I didn't go into the game thinking we had to win to get into the NCAA Tournament. We went into this game so we could win the Pac-12 Tournament."

Most of the experts believe that Cal will fall short of the big tournament because of their lack of a quality victory. They will learn their post-season fate on Sunday.

Game Notes

-Both teams shot 43% from the field. Cal was 22 for 51, and Oregon was 24 for 56.

-Cal was 8 for 15 on threes, Oregon 7 for 17.

-Oregon made 18 of 23 free throws, Cal was just 13 of 21.

To view postgame interviews with head coach Cuonzo Martin, forward Ivan Rabb and guard Grant Mullins, use the embedded viewer below:

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