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Cal Basketball

Bears Rally, Come up Short in Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinals

March 11, 2021
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Cal battled to the literal last second on Thursday night in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament quarterfinal but ended up losing to the Colorado Buffaloes, 61-58. It was a wild, ugly game but even with Cal down by nine points with 1:05 to play, the Bears had a chance to send the game to overtime when a Makale Foreman three-point attempt just missed as time expired.

The Bears were down 53-41 with 6:00 to play when Cal went on an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Ryan Betley and Matt Bradley. Down 53-49 with just under four minutes to play, Bradley fouled Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz as he made a layup. Schwartz completed the three-point play as Bradley sat on the bench with his fifth foul.

Colorado eventually built the lead to 61-52 with 65 seconds to play, but Cal refused to quit. Jalen Celestine was fouled on a three-point shot and made all three free-throw attempts with 48 seconds to play. On the ensuing inbounds, Colorado was called for a five-second violation. Seven seconds later Celestine heaved a desperation three over Schwartz, closing the gap to 61-58. All-conference point guard McKinley Wright drove the ball past Cal’s defenders but slipped and turned the ball over again with 11 seconds to play, setting up the final possession for Cal. Foreman took the final three, which rimmed in and out, and Colorado’s Evan Battey grabbed the rebound, ending Cal's improbably comeback bid.

It was a poor shooting night for both teams, which each shot 38% from the field. Bradley, who is averaging more than 18 points per game, didn’t score a single point until making three free-throws with 11:22 to play. He didn’t make his first field goal until 5:43 to play. Bradley ended up fouling out with 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field. It wasn’t much better for Wright, Colorado’s leading scorer, who finished the game with 10 points on 4-of-14 from the field. Colorado’s Battey led all scorers with 15 points. Anticevich led Cal with 11 points. Bradley had a season-high 29 points when the teams played in Berkeley on February 13, leading Cal to a 71-62 win over the Buffs. The junior wing missed the two teams’ first game in Boulder due to injury. Cal lost that game, 89-60.

Cal jumped out to a 7-0 lead from made threes by Grant Anticevich and Jalen Celestine and a free-throw from Joel Brown. Colorado rattled off the next six points before Anticevich’s second three found the bottom of the net, pushing Cal’s lead to 10-6 with 12:56 to play in the half. That would be the last three Cal made in the half.

The Bears did maintain their lead until a Jabari Walker three-point play put the Buffs up 17-16 with 3:39 to play in the half. The three-point play spurred a 10-4 Colorado run to close out the half with the Buffs leading 24-20. 

Cal shot 33% from the field in the first half to Colorado’s 29%. And while the Bears made two more three-point shots than Colorado in the first half, the Buffs went 7-of-7 from the free-throw line to Cal’s 1-of-2. Bradley went 0-of-3 shooting from the field. Colorado’s Wright also had a rough first half, going 1-of-7 from the field for just four points. The teams combined to go 16-of-52 in the first half. 

Cal started the second half similar to how it started the game, going on a 5-0 run to retake the lead off a three-pointer from Anticevich and driving layup by Joel Brown. The Bears led 27-26 with 16:51 to play in the second half before the Buffs went on a 10-1 run over the next 3:12 to take a 36-28 lead. The Buffs slowly built their lead to 13 points — the largest deficit of the game — on multiple occasions before the Bears battled back.

The Bears knocked down four more three-point shots than the Buffs but were outscored 30-16 in the paint. Cal also had 14 turnovers to Colorado’s 10, which led to 19 Colorado points. The Buffs also had 13 second-chance points to Cal’s five as Colorado snagged 12 offensive rebounds to Cal’s eight.

After beating Stanford in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament, the Bears season ends. Cal finishes the season at 9-20 (3-17 Pac-12). Colorado advances to the semi-finals to play USC. The Buffs, which were the third-seed in the conference tournament, move to 21-7 (14-6 Pac-12) on the season. 

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Bears Rally, Come up Short in Pac-12 Tournament Quarterfinals

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