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Cal Basketball

Bears Hold off WSU for First Pac-12 Victory

January 9, 2020
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Cal had to overcome its own horrible start and a fierce second-half rally by Washington State Thursday night. But the Bears, led by an all-around terrific performance by Matt Bradley, held on to defeat the Cougars, 73-66 at Haas Pavillion.

Granted the Cougars are not one of the premier teams in the Pac-12, but a win is a win and the Bears (7-8) have evened their conference mark at 1-1 and ended their four-game losing streak.

The Cougs (10-6, 1-2) were picked to finish ahead of only the Bears in the preseason media poll but did manage to beat UCLA at home last week. 

They took a 14-point lead early as Cal turned the ball over almost as often as they shot it. The Bears had ten turnovers in their first 17 possessions. 

But suddenly they got careful, and with ball-control came makeable shots and defensive stops. They were ferocious late in the first half and well into the second. 

A cold spell and some aggressive WSU offense made the score closer.  Bradley iced the victory with a three-point bucket as the shot clock was about to expire with 28 seconds left in the game to give Cal some breathing room after WSU had cut what once was a 13-point lead to three. Bradley made a free throw in the final seconds to slightly inflate the final margin.

Head coach Mark Fox was grateful for the win, but said he saw the sloppy start coming. “I didn’t like the feel of our team in the shootaround today,” he said. “I was a little concerned, and unfortunately I was right. We didn’t start the game very well. Give Washington State credit for a lot of that, too. But we had a lot of errors offensively and some turnovers. 

“It took us a while to calm down. and it also took a while for us to get our defense to the level it needed to be. But once we were able to stabilize, we crawled out of the hole. And then played very stable the rest of the game.”

The Bears made a spirited run late in the first half after WSU took advantage of Cal’s carelessness to take a 25-11 lead.  The margin stayed at 14 for another two minutes and then the Bears got started. Bradley hit a three and a layup,  Austin added another layup ‘before CJ Elleby hit a pair of free throws.

The Cougars did not score again until the Bears had put up ten to take the lead. Rather than relax they just kept coming and scored eight of the last ten points in the period to enter intermission ahead 40-34. I will do math for you, that was a 25-5 run.

Cal extended the lead to 13 as freshman Joel Brown and Austin powered the Cal offense. WSU with Elleby, who has Cal blood in his veins, led the Cougars as the Bears turned cold. The crowd of 3,963 was tense as a pair of Noah Willaims free throws drew the Cougars to within 69-66 with a shade under a minute left.

But then the Bears worked the shot clock and when Bradley moved off a screen for a straight-on look he nailed it. Bradley, who finished with a career-high 26 points to go with ten rebounds four assists, was aggressive the whole game. 

"I was real happy with my performance," Bradley said. "Coach got on me . . . I noticed I was getting a little too comfortable. He led me (to) be uncomfortable this week, and it showed. I felt really confident."

Fox was glad to see Bradley, who was 10-for-14 from the floor, to have a game like that. “He is still a work in progress. as productive as he’s been,” Fox said. “For other teams he’s the focal point of their defense. Let’s stop Matt Bradley, he’s the best player on their team.

“For him to be productive against defenses that are geared up for him, for him to be efficient, I think that’s a big step forward. He can get much better and with the approach he has now he'll keep getting better.”

Austin had 17 in one of his better games and Brown had seven all in the second half as the Bears were building their lead.

“I thought Paris was a real sparkplug for us,” Fox said. “He shot the ball well (6-for-8), he's worked hard on his shooting. He finished the game with no turnovers, Joel finished with no turnovers.I thought both those kids did a nice job.”

Elleby had 22 for WSU.

Notes

Juhwan Harris-Dyson was unavailable because of an arm injury. He was wearing a cast, but a source said it was a precaution. He will be evaluated further today.

Elleby’s father Bill played at Cal from 1998-92 and was in attendance Thursday night.

 

Discussion from...

Bears Hold off WSU for First Pac-12 Victory

2,034 Views | 13 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by HoopDreams
LateHit
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Vastly improved shot selection.
Several possessions went down to 2-3 seconds on the clock and there was an actual violation.
Much better than off balance garbage.
SFCityBear
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LateHit said:

Vastly improved shot selection.
Several possessions went down to 2-3 seconds on the clock and there was an actual violation.
Much better than off balance garbage.
Generally, I agree, though Anticevich took several ill-advised shots, a few in heavy traffic, where defenders came oh so close to getting a hand on the ball, and most when he looked to be off-balance.

We don't win without the great game from Paris Austin. Great decisions and shooting. And he really was aggressive on defense. Fouled out, but that was OK. Brown really caused Elleby some trouble, hounding him when he was guarding him. Overall a good effort, but there is still lots to work on. Cal had 12 assists, but nearer 20 than 10 is where we need to be, so we get at least 50% of our buckets off assists. 16 turnovers is awful, as usual. WSU is probably the only team in the conference we could beat when we make 16 turnovers. We shot very well, but that was largely because WSU has very little interior defense in the paint. That won't be true against many PAC12 opponents. FT shooting was excellent, 3-point shooting was OK, not great, except for the big one by Bradley to help put the game away. The Bears have trouble scoring 60 points, and tonight we had 40 in the first half. Pretty good. We should be happy with Fox's first conference win, but he knows full well, there is a lot more work to be done to try and at least compete for a .500 record.
HoopDreams
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Matt Bradley with the dunk of the season and clutch dagger 3 to seal it (and double double)

The two PGs had their best combined game of the season. We need Paris's scoring punch. Paris and Bradley still working on the tear drop floater though

Grant is our go to zone buster with his mid range game

Great team win

calumnus
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We needed this one and got it.

Go Bears!
bearup
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Paris took advantage of his opportunities....very happy for him and the team.
socaltownie
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I have not been complimentary enough - that is a nice interview by Fox.
Take care of your Chicken
bearup
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Probably his best. Also Paris and Matt were excellent

bearister
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" "I thought Paris was a real sparkplug for us," Fox said. "He shot the ball well (6-for-8), he's worked hard on his shooting. He finished the game with no turnovers, Joel finished with no turnovers.I thought both those kids did a nice job."
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside
59bear
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By far the best game I've seen Joel Brown play. He played very aggressively and confidently. It looks as if he is adjusting to the speed of the game at this level, a hopeful sign.
stu
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bearister said:

" "I thought Paris was a real sparkplug for us," Fox said. "He shot the ball well (6-for-8), he's worked hard on his shooting. He finished the game with no turnovers, Joel finished with no turnovers.I thought both those kids did a nice job."
Not a bad interview. One issue - I counted 6 uses of the words "kid" and "kids". Maybe I'm guilty of nit picking and excessive political correctness but I think "guys", "players", or "young men" would improve the acoustics. Maybe I should just be grateful he didn't say "boys".
south bender
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If his choice of words is the extent of Fox's dereliction, I would say his interview was quite ok.
SFCityBear
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stu said:

bearister said:

" "I thought Paris was a real sparkplug for us," Fox said. "He shot the ball well (6-for-8), he's worked hard on his shooting. He finished the game with no turnovers, Joel finished with no turnovers.I thought both those kids did a nice job."
Not a bad interview. One issue - I counted 6 uses of the words "kid" and "kids". Maybe I'm guilty of nit picking and excessive political correctness but I think "guys", "players", or "young men" would improve the acoustics. Maybe I should just be grateful he didn't say "boys".
Well, they are all passing through a period where over 4 years they are transitioning from kids or boys into men, hopefully and supposedly. This is a young team, with a few more lowerclassmen than upperclassmen, and only two of the seniors getting much playing time. One example of many was Richard Solomon, who arrived as a kid, made some foolish mistakes, immature ones, and 4 years later left Cal as a man.
HoopDreams
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Beating Washington State was big for several reasons:

First Pac 12 win, two games into season

Breakout game for Bradley, with 25 points, double-double, the winning dagger, and best dunk of season

Huge run. Show the team they can come back with strong defense

Team kept their poise when it got tight at the end

Bradley is clutch (we knew that already)

We can contain a opponents star player

End the negative cycle

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