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Cal Basketball

Bears Use Massive Second Half to Take Down Utah

January 16, 2021
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Cal used a massive second-half to overcome a double-digit lead to beat the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City, 72-63 on Saturday night. The Bears scored 50 points in the second half, led by senior forward, Grant Anticevich who had 10 of his 14 points in the second frame and keyed a pivotal second-half run that included back-to-back three-pointers.

“We beat a team that’s been really good here at home,” Cal head coach Mark Fox said after the game. “And we didn’t play terrible in the first half, Utah just played a lot harder than us. And in the second half, we certainly found our rhythm and our defense finally returned because we have not played well at that end. And so the combination of our rhythm offensively and defense in the second half enabled us to play a half that gave us a comeback and a really good win.”

Down 34-22 to start the second half, graduate transfer Makale Foreman knocked down a triple, leading to a 91-second 7-0 Cal flurry, bringing the score to 34-29. Utah countered with a mini-run of its own, extending the lead back to nine with 17:13 to play. But Cal went on a 16-4 run over the next seven minutes to gain a 46-42 lead with 12:10 to play. The Bears wouldn’t trail again, extending the lead eventually to double-digits.

After the first half, it looked like Cal had picked up right where it left off after a 29-point loss in Boulder on Thursday. The Bears were shooting 33.3% overall from the field, including a pitiful 18.2% (2-of-11) from three. But the Bears turned it on in the second half, shooting 59% from the field and 46% from three. Cal shot 47% (25-of-53) from the field for the game, including 33.3% (8-of-24) from three. After turning the ball over 16 times on Thursday against Colorado, the Bears only turned it over 12 times against Utah. The Utes, meanwhile, coughed it up 17 times, leading to 17 Cal points.

It was a very balanced approach for Cal. Foreman added 12 points (on 3-of-10 shooting from the field). Transfer guard Jarred Hyder and junior forward Andre Kelly both added 11 points. And grad transfer Ryan Betley also added nine points. Utah junior wing Timmy Allen led all scorers with 26 points, but didn’t get much help from anyone else on the Utes team.

After sleepwalking through the first half, Cal’s energy level was noticeably higher on both ends of the court after halftime. After Foreman’s three brought the lead down to nine on the opening possession of the second half, Hyder drove past his defender twice for two easy layups to bring the score to 34-29.

“Our guards were much more aggressive off of the ball screen in the second half,” Fox said of the second-half adjustments. “We didn’t think in the first half we were aggressive enough. And in the second half, we got a lot more aggressive.”

Utah extended the lead back to 38-29 with 17:13 to play, but Betley knocked down a three, bringing it back to 38-32 on the ensuing possession. Utah’s Allen countered with a layup on the other end, pushing the score back to 40-32. But on the next possession, Betley was fouled shooting a three-point shot and he knocked down all three free-throws.

A Lars Thiemann layup off a Joel Brown steal gave Cal its first lead of the game, 43-42 with 12:37 to play in the game. After a missed Utah three-point attempt, Brown found sophomore Kuany Kuany alone in the corner for a three, which the wing knocked down, pushing Cal’s lead to 46-42. Allen and Kelly exchanged hoops and Allen’s layup with 10:38 to play brought Utah within two at 48-46.

Then Anticevich took over. The senior forward, who is still slowly coming back from an appendectomy that put him in the hospital for four and a half days earlier this year knocked down to threes in a row, pushing Cal’s lead to 54-46 with 9:40 to play. Allen and Kelly again exchanged free throws and then Anticevich knocked down a mid-range jumper to push Cal’s lead to 10 with 8:22 to play.

“He has not been the same since he came back,” Fox said of Anticevich. “He lost a ton of weight. He hasn’t played well. He’s been frustrated. It was really uplifting, I think for our entire team, to see him make a few. And I think it took the pressure off of everybody. I really do. I think those were big baskets.”

The game stayed between seven and 12 points until Foreman knocked down a three with 4:00 minutes to play, giving Cal a 69-56 lead — it’s biggest of the game. Utah scored the next seven points, bringing the score to 69-63 with 2:06 to play. But Brown drove past his defender and made a layup to extend the lead back to eight with under a minute to play. The Utes wouldn’t get any closer.

Cal moves to 7-8 on the year and 2-6 in Pac-12 play. The Utes fall to 5-6 on the year and 2-5 in Pac-12 play. The Bears are off until next Thursday when they play UCLA at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.

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Bears Use Massive Second Half to Take Down Utah

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