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Cal Basketball

Bears Hold Off Hampton, Get First Win

November 13, 2018

Despite some mild tension in the second half, in which much of what had been a 19-point lead vanished, Cal held off a scrappy team from Hampton, 80-66,Tuesday night at Haas Pavillion. .

The Bears (1-1), still probably weary from their transoceanic trip to China, have little time to rest as they take on Detroit-Mercy Thursday night in the second game of the of the Legends Classic.

Win or lose the Bears are in the championship round and face St. John’s in Brooklyn Monday night. They would be there regardless of how they did Tuesday night as well. That outcome, which seemed to be a foregone conclusion at halftime, was in a little doubt in the second.

But when threatened the Bears responded.

“Very happy to get the win,,” said head coach Wyking Jones afterwards. “We played a very good first half. I told the guys that’s the way we’re supposed to play. That’s the way we’re supposed to look. Sharing the ball making the extra pass, Making the defense work, multiple ball screens. That’s what we’ve been working on since we got back from China. Not taking quick shots, and we were falling into the defense’s hands. That was great to see. The energy level was very high.”

The Bears shot 55.2 per cent from the floor, including 6-for-10 from three point land in building their 48-31 halftime lead. That was a refreshing change from the way they played in Shanghai, when they shot 35.3 percent in losing to Yale. 

Still Jones suspected the Bears were not out of the woods, so to speak

“I told our guys at halftime they’re going to make a run,” Jones said. “And they made their run, and I was happy to see we fought through it. And we were able to climb out of if, make some offensive plays, make some defensive plays and get through the run that they made.”.

In a first half of streaks by both teams, the Bears seemed to take control and built their big halftime lead. Justice Sueing and Darius McNeill had fueled a 12-3 run that put the Bears up 19-10. Hampton countered with a sudden 7-0 spurt, using all of 47 seconds to score the points and cut the margin to two.

Jones then called his first timeout, and whatever he told the players worked. The Bears began scoring from all angles, and before Hampton knew it, the Pirates were down by 14. That deficit grew to 48-31 at halftime and early in the second period the Bears were up 51-32 and coasting.

With guard Jermaine Marrow, a fearless 6-1 junior who attacks the rim with a passion, leading the way the Pirates (1-2) got to within six points a couple of times midway in the second period. At one stretch Marrow, who finished a game high 26 points, had personally outscored the Bears 10-1.

But with the Bears leading by just 61-55 and teetering, freshman Andre Kelly hit an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, free throw) and another follow shot bookended by some Paris Austin free restore the lead to double digits.

“He showed some great footwork,” Jones said of the 6-8 freshman. He didn’t look like a freshman tonight. Showed some poise, took his time, got a quality shot. Andre was good for us tonight.”

Kelly said he is feeling better with more experience. “Definitely feels good that my teammates trust me,”:he said. “Being a freshman. ... I’m happy tonight I was able to come through ...I kind of know now what they expect of me.”

Meanwhile the Bears went to a zone defense and were able to keep Marrow from penetrating. Without that weapon the Pirates were unable to mount a threat.

Paris Austin led the Bears with 20 points along with six assists and zero turnovers. Sueing had 17 points, Kelly 15 and McNeill and Matt Bradley 11 each, as all five starters scored in double figures.. Jones was particularly heartened to see McNeill find the range, as he went 4-for-9 from the field including 3-for-6 from three-point range. Against Yale he was 0-for-8.

Juhwan Harris-Dyson, who was injured and did not play in China, made his debut. He didn’t score and committed three fouls, but Jones was just glad he was back in action.

“I liked him being out there,” Jones said. “I just enjoy seeing him out there. You don’t see it on  the stat sheet but his presence is felt on the defensive end. He guarded Marrow for a little bit. He does a good job staying in front.”


Cal dished out 15 assists. Hampton had five one in the first half....Cal shot 57.1 per cent from three-point range (8-for-14)...Their best in a game last year was 52.9 per cent. ..Detroit-Mercy is 0-3 after losing to Butler Monday night.

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