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Cal Basketball

Bears Struggle With St. Mary's in 84-71 Defeat in Moraga

December 1, 2018
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After a Big Game loss to start off the day and a double digit defeat to St. Mary’s Saturday, night the month of December got off to a rough start for Cal Athletics.

Heading into this season, any casual Cal fan perusing the schedule, looking for potential wins from a team that struggled to remain competitive much of last season could be forgiven if they circled a loss on the road to WCC power St. Mary’s. However, the Gaels came into the game in the midst of an uncharacteristic tough stretch, losers of four straight to Utah State, Mississippi State, Harvard and UC Irvine prior to tonight’s showdown in nearby Moraga. 

Apparently, a young Cal squad was just what the doctor ordered as the Bears struggled much of the night in their 13-point defeat.

The game was Cal’s first at St. Mary’s since a loss to the Gaels in McKeon Pavilion in 1988. The Bears’ last win in Moraga was in 1985, led by future NBA star Kevin Johnson.

Despite the Gael’s 3-4 record heading into the game, any illusion of vulnerability the Bears might’ve had dissipated quickly, as St. Mary’s scorched the nets to the tune of 6-for-13 from three and 55% overall in the first stanza, as well as a perfect 7-for-7 from the line in jumping out to a 45-30 halftime lead.

The Bears struggled to get off high percentage shots against St. Mary’s tight defense, going 45% from the field and just 25% from 3. Freshman starters Andre Kelly and Matt Bradley started just 2-for-8 combine in the half as the Bears struggled to find their rhythm. Bradley came to life in the second half to finish with 15, going 3-for-3 from the perimeter in the second half.

St. Mary’s forward Malik Fitts gave the Bears fits with his physical play, jumping out to 10 first half points for the Gaels. Fitts led the Gaels with 19 points and seven rebounds on the night. Former Cal point guard recruit Jordan Ford also had a strong game, exacting a measure of revenge for the lack of a Bears’ offer, going for 16 with seven assists on 6-of-11 shooting.

Things didn’t get much better for the Bears in the second half, as St. Mary’s continued their torid outside shooting, pushing their lead as high as 24 before coasting to their victory after a late Cal rally made the game look a little closer than it was. SMC finished the night 13-of-24 from three.

Cal forward Justice Sueing led the Bears with 16 on 6-for-10 shooting, including 2-for-2 both from the perimeter and from the line. Overall, the Bears hit all 12 of their free throws -just the fourth time in Cal history the Bears went perfect from the line with at least 10 free throw attempts.

After the Gaels stretched the lead to 25, the Bears whittled the lead down to as low as 12 before SMC stopped the run.

The lack of perimeter defense, assists and ball movement was a killer for the young Bears squad, who will continue to struggle through a more challenging Pac-12 season if they can’t figure out a way to get back on track and develop more consistency.

On the ineffective perimeter defense, Jones noted that it hadn’t been a consistent problem but that the Bears’ focus on SMC’s primary threats may have taken away from their effectiveness on the edge.

“We made an effort to focus on Jordan Ford and Fitts and their role guys stepped up for them tonight,” said Jones. “They came in with a gameplan that they’d use their secondary scorers to beat us and they did a good job.

“We had too many guys going one-on-one. Too many guys trying to do it themselves and play hero ball. We shoot the ball too well to not drive and get in the lane and kick out to shooters.”

Was there anything that Jones was pleased with tonight?

“Not really,” said Jones. “No. I feel like we took a step back and the next game, we have to take a step forward.”

The Bears will be back in action Wednesday night in Haas Pavilion, completing the third of three straight games against local WCC competition. A win is likely necessary for the season to maintain any semblance of competitiveness for the young Bear squad as they head into the Pac-12 season a month down the road.

Discussion from...

Bears Struggle With St. Mary's in 84-71 Defeat in Moraga

BearSD
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Quote:

The Bears will be back in action Wednesday night in Haas Pavilion, completing the third of three straight games against local WCC competition. A win is likely necessary for the season ...
I don't know about that. Beating USF is a tall order. The Dons might be as good as Saint Mary's this year.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Not saying they're not good. There just aren't many games on the schedule where they match up talent-wise and a loss there makes what's already a rough season even rockier, especially at home.
calbear80
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MB,

Thanks for a good game report despite the very tough situation with Cal MBB.

Go Bears!
bearister
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BearSD said:


Quote:

The Bears will be back in action Wednesday night in Haas Pavilion, completing the third of three straight games against local WCC competition. A win is likely necessary for the season ...
I don't know about that. Beating USF is a tall order. The Dons might be as good as Saint Mary's this year.


I went to a Father's Day Weekend Basketball Camp at St. Mary's with my son when Randy Bennett first arrived. Kyle Smith was an assistant coach. I formed a very high opinion of Kyle that weekend. His success is of no surprise to me. He will have the Dons ready for the Bears.
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