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Cal Basketball

Bears Roll in Mark Fox’s Debut

November 5, 2019

It turns out, Matt Bradley likes the new three-point distance length. Moved about a foot back from last year, the sophomore guard had no problem with the new distance, going 5-for-7 from three to lead the Bears with 25 points. In a game that looked like a tossup, the Bears used a 21-4 run lasting about seven minutes in the second half to bury the Waves from Pepperdine. 

“I’m really proud of our players. I’m really happy for our players and our team,” Head Coach Mark Fox said after the game. “But I’m really proud of these young guys for buying into our vision and we have worked them extremely hard. And when you demand that much of somebody as a coach, it needs to work out, so they’ll do it again and do it some more. But the players made all the plays and these kids deserve some credit for really playing super hard tonight and beating a very good Pepperdine team.”

Trailing by two at halftime, Cal shot 20-of-28 from the field in the second half, including 6-of-8 from the three-point line, outscoring the Waves 52-34 in the second half. After going 4-of-10 from the three-point line in the first half, Pepperdine cooled down, going 6-of-19 from three in the second half. Last season’s leading scorer, Colbey Ross, scored 17 points in the first half for the Bears but only got two points in the second half after going 0-for-6 from the field.

Fox said he was particularly proud of how the Bears didn’t let the game get away from them. Indeed, Cal kept battling back in the first half. “You have to have a response to adversity. We’ve talked about that from day one,” Fox said. 

After building an 18-11 point lead after a Jacobi Gordon three-point shot, the Waves battled back to tie the game at 22. The Bears regained the lead 24-22 after two free throws from Kareem South, but adversity hit when Pepperdine’s Skyler Chavez made a layup on a fastbreak and Bradley was whistled with his second foul. After an official’s review, the foul was ruled a Flagrant 1 foul on Bradley and Chavez knocked down his two free throws and the Waves got the ball back. The Waves would use the momentum to build a 35-28 lead after a Ross and-one. But Cal closed the half on a 7-2 run to close the gap to five heading into the locker room.

“I thought our defense in the first half was nothing like it was supposed to be. And so you can imagine what the halftime conversation was,” Fox said. “There were no adjustments, just do what we planned to do to start with. We had more discipline to the plan in the second half.”

The Bears went down again 45-38 after another Chavez three with 17:33 to go. But then Cal ran off a 7-0 run that included a Bradley layup, a Paris Austin assist to Andre Kelly and a South three to regain the lead, 46-45. Pepperdine went back up 49-46 before Cal ran-off 17 unanswered points all from Austin, Kelly, and Bradley.

Shifting from the exhibition game’s lineups, Fox started freshman point guard Joel Brown and freshman center Lars Thiemann, but it was the veteran players that thrived. Kelly had a double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds, going 7-for-9 from the field including 1-of-1 from three. Meanwhile, Austin changed the game’s momentum in the second half with his ability to drive past defenders and either finish at the rim, draw a foul, or find an open teammate for the assist. The fifth-year senior finished the game with 14 points and three assists. Fellow fifth-year senior, South also had 14 points and three assists.

“I wanted the bench to have some experience and not be totally green,” Fox said of starting the two freshmen. 

The Bears are off for an entire week before they play UNLV next Tuesday also at Haas Pavilion.

Other quotes from the post-game presser:

“Andre Kelly is a terrific person. He is a very good student, he is a zero-issue player.” - Fox

“Paris Austin played really hard. He attacked the rim, which opened up shots from the outside. Defensively, he played really well as well. He was the captain on the floor and made sure everybody was composed.” - Bradley

“When he’s distributing and facilitating, it makes it a lot easier.” - Bradley on Austin

“Paris does a good job in practice, he’s always looking for his teammates.” - Kelly

“Our coach said he was really proud of us at halftime, because there were some points in the game where it could’ve gone either way, and we just kept battling.” - Kelly 

“I wasn’t really thinking about scoring. I just wanted to win.” - Bradley

Discussion from...

Bears Roll in Mark Fox’s Debut

2,738 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 9 mo ago by UrsaMajor
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Yes, I was there. Were you? Winning.
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I wasn't bet didn't miss a minute on TV. Really like the look of this year's team. Fox has done a lot in a short period of time. We may not be at the league's top but we sure don't look anything like last year. And this was a projected 4th place team from their league.
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There's a mistake in the write-up you should fix. The 7-2 run at the end of the half cut the margin to 2, not 5.
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