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Cal Basketball

Bears Lose Big to Trojans, Continuing Streak of Futility

February 16, 2019
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Cal’s 14th consecutive defeat was uglier than any of the 13 that had preceded it. USC jumped on the Bears from the get-go Saturday at Haas Pavilion and simply didn’t stop. The Trojans (14-12, 7-6 Pac-12), still smarting from the upset loss at Stanford on Wednesday, took it out on the Bears (5-20, 0-13), whose losing streak is an ongoing school record that could very well grow with the treacherous Arizona trip coming up next week.

The final score was 89-66, but it could have been a lot worse. It actually was at one point, as the Bears had no answer for anything USC did.

SC scored from long range, from short range and anywhere in between.

Bennie Boatwright was the primary culprit, as he hit a school record 10 three-pointers (in just 13 attempts) and scored a game-high 36 points.

“He was scoring over our guards,” head coach Wyking Jones said of the 6-10 forward. “He was in a rhythm and they did a great job feeding him. It was almost a tream effort.”

The Bears had been getting better in the last couple of games, hanging with Oregon State n Corvallis and taking UCLA to overtime on Wednesday.

Jones said he had an inkling a game like this was in the offing after watching the Bears muddle through a practice Friday.

“After showing improvement the last five or six games, we took a major step backwards,” Jones said afterwards. Jones said he saw some signs the defense was struggling on Friday. “I told the guys if we play like this tomorrow we are going to lose by 30.”

They almost did.

USC came out of the gate blazing and before the Bears could say let’s play defense, the vistors had canned three straight threes and a short jumper to give themselves an 11-0 lead. Connor Vanover hit a trey to give the crowd some hope, but it didn’t last. SC just kept on shooting and when Boatwright hit a trey as he was being knocked into the stands, the lead was 19.

“They just started early and stayed hot throughout the game,” forward Justice Sueing said afterwards. “We don’t have that margin for error against a team like USC,”.

The Bears cut it to 15 (41-26) at the half, which in hindsight looked pretty good.

Jones kept the Bears in the locker room longer than normal at the break, but whatever he told them didn’t do much good.

USC scored the first eight points after the half and the rout was on.

The lead grew to embarrassing proportions when Kevin Porter Jr. hit a pair of treys to make the score 78-47. That’s a 31-point lead for those of you still counting. Jones certainly was.

The Trojans came into the game shooting 37.3 percent from three-point range, which isn’t bad, but nothing like the 61.3 percent (19-for-31) they shot Saturday.  Boatwright set the tone in the  first 20 minutes, hitting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

“Typically against a zone your want teams to take threes. You want ‘em to,” Jones said. “Tonight was one of those nights when they capitalized on that.”

Jones said the Bears weren’t static in their defense. It was just that nothing worked. “We mixed up our defenses. We went from zone to man,” he said. “We trapped ball screens. We made a bunch of adjustments, but once they got it going it was tough to slow them down.”

Sueing led the Bears with 17 points. Matt Bradley contributed 14.

“Typically we put something like this in the rear view and they come back with the right attitude,” Jones said, looking ahead to the trip to Tucson and Tempe. “And they come back with the right attitude. This was tough. It was tough for them and it was tough for the staff. It’s my job to see we get back on the right track.”

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Bears Lose Big to Trojans, Continuing Streak of Futility

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