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Bears Barely Fall Short in 61-60 Loss to UCLA

February 10, 2024
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HAAS PAVILION - In a game that had every appearance of being a runaway UCLA win, the Bears came back from a 14-point second-half deficit and made a game of it before falling 1 point short in a 61-60 loss to UCLA before a solid crowd of 9,280 in Berkeley. Wing Jaylon Tyson led the Bears’ scoring with 16 points on 6-for-12 from the floor along with 6 rebounds in the defeat.

“We had a bad first half,” Cal head coach Mark Madsen said after the game. “We had trouble taking care of the ball. They got 13 points off our 8 turnovers in the first half and played with a lot of energy and we were just sluggish. Give UCLA credit. They came out and blitzed us and dominated the first half.”

The Bears had a chance to pull off a home sweep of three of their biggest rivals in Stanford, USC and UCLA in consecutive home games before falling just short.

“It is difficult,” Madsen said after missing the sweep. “But in that difficulty and disappointment, there’s a huge opportunity...This is an opportunity for us to drill down and to drill in and tighten up because we have a tough road trip next week going up to the state of Washington. I can tell you we are going to be ready to go and dialed into these things that impact the game.”

Both teams came into the game hot, with UCLA winners of 6-of-7 to recover from a horrible conference start with their freshman-laden team to move into fifth place at 7-5 after a win at Stanford on Wednesday. The Bears came in nearly as hot with wins in 4 of their last 5 games, including an exciting 83-77 win over USC earlier this week. After Utah’s loss to Arizona Thursday, the Bears moved into a sixth-place tie at 6-6 in conference play.

The Bears got off to a solid start, taking an early 7-4 lead on 7 straight Jaylon Tyson points but the Bruins rallied for a 15-3 run, with only a Gus Larson buzzer-beating 3 breaking up the big UCLA run.

A pair of jumpers by Tyson and Keonte Kennedy finally got the Bears back on track, narrowing the UCLA lead to 19-14 with 10 minutes left in the half.

Following the brief respite, UCLA got hot again while the Bears struggled with UCLA’s aggressive defense as the Bruins put together another run, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to go up 29-16 in the next 4 minutes, paced by 3’s by forward Brandon Williams and guard Lazar Stefanovic, eventually taking a 35-24 lead into the locker room.

The Bruins were efficient in the opening half in making the Bears pay for their turnovers, converting Cal’s 8 TOs to 13 points to just 4 for the Bears. They also managed to take Cal center Fardaws Aimaq completely out of the game to that point with just 2 points and 2 rebounds at the break. The senior recovered to score 12 points with 12 rebounds overall with a solid second half.

Both teams’ offenses were stuck in quicksand to start the second half, with both teams scoring just 5 points a piece, including a Jalen Celestine 3 in the first five minutes. The Bears went just 2-of-5 from the line in that stretch.

A 3-point play by Kennedy, a Cone trey and a Larson dunk got the Bears going again, pulling them to within 6 at 43-37 with 12:40 remaining but the Bruins fended off the charge with back-to-back Williams buckets. The Bears countered with back-to-back layups by Kennedy and Tyson to pull to within 47-41 with 9:53 left.

The Bears further put their foot on the gas, stepping up their defense and warming up on the offensive side, going on a 10-3 run with a thundering dunk from Tyson and 3s from Aimaq and Celestine to cut the UCLA lead to just 1 with 5:55 left at 50-49. A Tyson jumper gave the Bears their first lead since the opening minutes, breaking a 3-minute scoreless run by both teams with 3:05 left.

A contested Stefanovic corner 3 gave the Bruins the lead right back on their next possession and a pair of Aimaq free throws knotted the game with 2:20 left. Guard Sebastian Mack got a questionable call on an aggressive drive but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and the Bears came back with a big putback by Aimaq on a miss in aggressive traffic to pull ahead by 2 with 1 minute remaining as the Haas Pavilion crowd roared it’s approval.

On the next possession, center Adem Bona hit a turnaround jumper to tie it at 55 and hit the and-1 on a questionable touch foul to give UCLA the lead. The Bruin center threw elbows and shoulders all game in the paint but came away nearly unscathed in the foul column. The Bears responded with an Aimaq putback to go back up 1 with 36 seconds left. Andrews returned the favor, hitting a jumper in the key to regain the lead 12 seconds later. The Bears were unable to convert on their next possession, fouling Stefanovic after the rebound. The frosh hit both free throws to extend the Bruins lead to 3 with 16 seconds left.

The Bears next had a solid chance to tie the game, setting up Celestine with a kickout 3-point attempt but the jumper came up short, as did Cal’s shot for the game. A Mack free throw made a buzzer-beating Celestine 3 a moot point as the Bruins squeaked out their 1-point win to move to 8-5 in conference and 13-11 overall. The Bears fell to 6-7/10-14 after the loss.

Related: 

Bears Pull Out Another Overtime Thriller, Top USC 83-77

The Rodcast: The Tipping Point

Discussion from...

Bears Barely Fall Short in 61-60 Loss to UCLA

1,334 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by RedlessWardrobe
Go!Bears
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Can someone explain what we were doing in the last 24 seconds? We had the ball and no shot clock yet we hurried to get a shot that even if we had made it would have given UCLA the ball, time and a chance to win. Was that intentional or just not thinking it through?

Description of the sequence from above: "On the next possession, center Adem Bona hit a turnaround jumper to tie it at 55 and hit the and-1 on a questionable touch foul to give UCLA the lead. The Bruin center threw elbows and shoulders all game in the paint but came away nearly unscathed in the foul column. The Bears responded with an Aimaq putback to go back up 1 with 36 seconds left. Andrews returned the favor, hitting a jumper in the key to regain the lead 12 seconds later. The Bears were unable to convert on their next possession, fouling Stefanovic after the rebound..."
RedlessWardrobe
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If you're tied you play for the last shot. If you're down by one you don't. You try to get off a good shot, take the lead and then have faith in your defense to make a stop.

If you've been watching the Bears this year, Tyson has converted the driving bank shot that he took almost every time in previous games. It just didn't happen in this game. Just don't think this one qualifies as a second guesser.

On top of that, on the next possession, down by 3, we ran a play that got Celestine a really good look at the hoop, as good as could possibly be expected when we needed a 3 to tie. Again, the ball just didn't drop in.

Against Furd and SC, we made plays in the clutch. Against UCLA we did not. The fact that they are an excellent defensive team had something to do with it.
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