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Ugly 17-1 Late UC Davis Run Dooms the Bears in 75-65 Loss to Aggies

November 7, 2022
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HAAS PAVILION - After a far too close for comfort 7-point exhibition opener over Chico State last week, the Bears came into their season opener against UC Davis looking to improve in every phase of the game.

Not long after the 8 pm tipoff, it was apparent that they still had a lot of work to do as the Bears offense and ball security completely collapsed in the final 10 minutes of a 75-65 loss at Haas Pavilion Monday night.

The 33-game win streak over their little brothers from Davis is ignominiously over.

After shooting a dreadful 38% from the floor and just a meager 11% from three in their exhibition opener, the Bears looked much better early on offense, shooting 56% from the floor in the first half and 44% from deep but they also were careless with the ball with 9 turnovers and were outrebounded an inexplicable 20-12 by the smaller but more aggressive Aggies in the opening stanza.

When he wasn’t turning the ball over with needless dribbles under the bucket, center Lars Thiemann was the Bears’ main first-half threat, with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting. Thiemann finished with 17 on the night on 7-for-11 shooting along with 8 rebounds but also turned the ball over an ugly 5 times on the night.

The Bears managed 5 first-half steals, including a theft and fullcourt sprint and slam by guard Marsalis Roberson but they frequently poorly defended the perimeter in allowing UCD to shoot a scorching 55% from three while giving them 7 second-chance points to help them to their 5-point halftime lead.

“I think their experience and maturity showed in the first half,” said Cal head coach Mark Fox. “We had to play from behind and then when we came back and got the lead, we just had a couple awful offensive possessions that led to baskets for them and then never recovered...I’m disappointed with how we defended in the second half. And offensively, our inexperience really showed in the second half.”

The Bears came out of the locker room with tighter D and cooled the Aggies off from the floor. After going down by 8 on a Leo Debruel three five minutes into the half, the Bears’ D tightened up and their offense went to work, particularly combo guard Devin Askew, a former 4 star Mater Dei prep to transferred to Cal after largely unsuccessful stints at Kentucky and Texas.

The athletic junior kickstarted the Bears’ offense in the second half, scoring 10 quick points, with his driving layup at the 11:50 mark tying the game for the first time since the early minutes at 52. He finished the game leading the Bears in scoring with 19 going 7-20 from the floor and just 1-6 from three with 3 turnovers.

Treys by frosh forward Grant Newell and center Kuany Kuany and a layup by Newell gave the Bears a 6-point lead two minutes later but a 6-0 run punctuated by a thunderous Christian Anigwe dunk knotted the game again at 60 with 8:10 remaining.

An Alajiki free throw briefly gave the Bears back the lead but some atrocious ball-handling and resulting fast break buckets on a pair of steals where Thiemann was stripped clean and a pair of additional buckets saw the Aggies convert a 17-1 run to a 10-point lead with 2:41 remaining at 71-61.

Even when a Kuany layup broke the Aggies' run, the Bears used the full shot clock before getting off a shot with under three minutes to play.

They could generate little to nothing on offense from there, allowing UCD to use clock and hit a pair of late buckets to push their final margin of victory to 10, 75-65.

The Bears were lacking combo guard DeJuan Clayton, who they’ll be counting on as one of their better shooters, along with guard Jared Hyder but their overall dearth of perimeter shooters and scoring options appear to body poorly for their season prospects at this point.

It’s hard enough to win without effective shooting and scoring (38% from the floor and 33% from 3) but when you’re outhustled and outrebounded (40-34) by a smaller and less athletic team, there are very few paths to victory. Add in 14 turnovers, including 9 steals and you’ve got a surefire losing formula.

“I think rebounding is a lot of want-to,” said Fox. “You’ve got to be physical in the paint and be alert to the miss. I’m extremely disappointed in how we rebounded the ball in our exhibition game and how we rebounded tonight.”

The Bears will be back in action on Friday when they face Kansas State at 4 pm at Haas Pavilion on a special 4 pm Veteran’s Day start for the 0-1 Bears.

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Ugly 17-1 Late UC Davis Run Dooms the Bears in 75-65 Loss to Aggies

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