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Cal Basketball

Golden Bears Give Small Crowd Early Thanksgiving Turkey

November 21, 2022
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You can’t lose games like this.  If you hold your opponent to 34% shooting you can’t trail the final 25 minutes of a game.

In front of a home crowd small enough to be counted from the stands 5 minutes before tipoff, California dropped their fifth straight contest to start the season, 59-55 to the Texas State Bobcats (3-2).

It’s happened this way before this year, more often than not. The Bears got off to a decent start, dug themselves a hole by going cold to end the first half, and never fully recovered, although they did close to within one point at 54-53 with 19 seconds left in the game.

Lars Thiemann (15 pts, 11 rebounds) said, “Always so close. We keep putting ourselves in bad situations.”

A subdued, almost despondent-sounding head coach Mark Fox put it this way: “We are a wounded team and have had a miserable start to the season. Tonight we defended fairly well but did not rebound well in first half. We did not defend well in second half.  To their credit, they realized we had one guard on the floor and trapped him high.”

Indeed, from the get-go, Texas State pressed the ball full court after made baskets, and played a ball-pressure defense all game. With multiple injuries to the guard corps, the Bears had trouble breaking the press, committing a pair of 10-second violations along with several shot-clock violations. Texas State racked up 18 points off 16 Cal turnovers, while surrendering only 5 points off their seven turnovers (only 1 in the first half, in the opening 10 seconds of the game).

Cal was missing Marsalis Roberson, Jalen Celestine and Jarred Hyder, all guards. Asked about their health, Fox said, “Marcellus is out indefinitely, Celestine out for a while, and Hyder is out for the year. We should be able to deal with injury, but it’s all the same position.”

The game’s outcome could reasonably be predicted by a few statistics. Both teams shot 70% from the free throw line, but the Bobcats had nine more attempts than the Bears, translating to six more points.  Texas State corralled 14 offensive boards, nine in the first half.

Sam Alajiki on the rebounding issues: “We didn’t do well on offensive glass, they got a lot of second chance points (11) and we fouled too much (22 fouls to the Bobcats’ 16). You have to anticipate offensive rebounds better. You can’t wait for the shot to go up and turn your head to follow it.”

There’s no getting around the fact that the Golden Bears came out of the halftime locker room flat. They trailed just 25-22 at the intermission, but Texas State, just 1-for-10 from deep in the first half, hit their first three shots including a pair of treys. Kuany Kuany (0 points, 1 rebound, 22 minutes) then elbowed a defender, drawing an offensive foul, and slammed the ball to the floor right in front of the official who made the call. The resultant technical free throws gave Texas State a 9-point lead and sent Kuany to the bench with four fouls at the 17:26 mark of the second half.

Devin Askew played heroic minutes (over 36) and led the Bears with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Askew scored 12 of his 17 after the break, and he and Thiemann were 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the second half after the Bears were just 0-3 before the break.

At one point in the second half, it appeared Askew and Fox had words with each other, as Fox pulled Askew back toward the bench, then hugged his guard and sent him back to the floor. “I’m putting so much of a load on Devin right now,” said Fox. “He gets frustrated because he knows there’s more we can do. We can bark at each other; we need his tenacity, but I embrace him also.”

After scoring just 25 in the first 20 minutes, Texas State put 15 on the board in the first 6 minutes of the second half, and the Golden Bears spent the remainder of the game trying to claw back.  They nearly did so when the Bobcats began playing passively, milking the clock and missing 7 of their last 8 shots.

Senior guard Mason Harrell (21 points, including 7-for-7 from the stripe) led all scorers. He was supported by Brandon Davis with 14, including three clutch free throws in the final 27 seconds.

The end of the game was frantic. Down 4, Thiemann hit a hook shot with 27 seconds left. Cal called timeout. Askew immediately fouled Davis on the inbounds play, and Davis missed the second free throw. Cal, down three, took the rebound and Askew stormed the rim, but a blocking foul was called on the floor before his shot, eliminating the chance for a three-point play. Askew drained both free throws to close the gap to one point.

Again Askew fouled Davis on the inbounds play; Davis hit both this time, extending the lead to three again. Monty Bowser missed a corner three, Alajiki grabbed the rebound and scored the putback. Cal fouled Harrell on the inbounds play, and the senior guard drained both shots for a 3-point edge with just over 7 seconds on the clock.

The inbounds pass was a 70-foot throw to the paint, intended for Thiemann. As Fox said postgame, it was a tough play to ask a freshman to make, and the throw was just a bit short, allowing for a scrum. Alajiki fouled trying to secure the ball, and Davis teased the crowd by missing the first, but sealed the win with the second free throw.

There are many obvious places for improvement; the question is whether there is sufficient manpower to execute them. Cal does not move well without the ball; it took 33 minutes of basketball for them to execute a back-cut off a high post to score. All too often the shot clock wound under 7 seconds and the result was a single dribble and a pull-up jumper that was not a good look.

The Bears played mostly a 2-3 zone on defense; Fox was asked if that contributed to the poor results on the defensive glass, but he demurred, saying it was more technique and anticipation.

Next up is a neutral-floor contest against the TCU Horned Frogs in a town clearly named by a real estate marketing department, Niceville, Florida. The game is on CBS Sports Network Friday at 6:30 pm and is part of the Emerald Coast Classic.

Related:

Bears Remain Winless After Falling to Southern

Cal Drops Road Battle At UC San Diego

Discussion from...

Golden Bears Give Small Crowd Early Thanksgiving Turkey

1,332 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 5 days ago by CamHand
JB was a Chieftain
How long do you want to ignore this user?
When is fox fired?
CamHand
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Hopefully in time to be in Niceville for Christmas... and the sappy reason for the name was not marketing but a little girl's big heart...

When mail service began on July 21, 1868, the city was known as Boggy,[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niceville,_Florida#cite_note-5][5][/url] and on November 5, 1910, the name was officially changed to Niceville.[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niceville,_Florida#cite_note-6][6][/url] The name Niceville was selected by the postmaster's daughter.[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niceville,_Florida#cite_note-7][7][/url] In 1915, Niceville became part of newly formed Okaloosa County after previously being in Walton County.[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niceville,_Florida#cite_note-8][8][/url] It is a twin city along with Valparaiso, which borders it on the west side of the city.
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