Bears, wake up. It’s time to watch another Cal basketball loss!
Coming off of its worst loss of the year to its most hated rival, Cal was looking for anything that could catalyze good basketball and a win to sweep Colorado on the season. The blue and gold found the recipe for success, but it only lasted for the first half. They had a chance to redeem themselves just three days later in Utah and jumped out to a lead in the first half again, and then they blew it. Cal scored just 46 points in both games and now trudges back to Berkeley on a seven-game losing streak with an overall 3-20 record.
Before either game even started, the injury report was already bad news. Leading scorer Devin Askew was declared out for the season after having successful sports hernia surgery. DeJuan Clayton was also ruled inactive with an illness that sidelined him against both Colorado and Utah. Thus, their two main guards, typically tasked with handling the ball and taking a majority of the shots, were out. Other players, especially Kuany Kuany and Joel Brown, would have to step out of their comfort zone to contribute.
On Thursday against Colorado, Cal got off to a very hot start. It didn’t trail the entire half and led by 10 with two and a half minutes remaining. However, Colorado closed the half on a quick 7-0 run, leaving Cal with a mere 27-24 lead at the intermission. Then, disaster struck. Turnover after turnover plagued the blue and gold, who racked up a whopping 12 giveaways in the second half, with 10 occuring in an eight-minute span during which Colorado didn’t turn the ball over once. The Buffaloes easily capitalized on this and went on a 13-0 run to take the lead for the first time. Colorado never looked back, winning 59-46.
For the entire game, Cal had 22 turnovers. Over the last 16 minutes of the game, it was outscored 31-12 and only attempted 14 shots over that period compared to Colorado’s 23. Cal actually shot more efficiently than Colorado overall, but the Buffaloes’ greater number of shots attempted proved decisive and ultimately lost the Bears the game. Kuany Kuany was the only player in double figures with 10 points, and Joel Brown and Grant Newell combined for nine turnovers.
In a quick turnaround, Cal traveled to Utah to face off against the Utes. The last time the two teams played, back in December at Haas Pavilion, the Bears were only able to put up 43 points in a 15-point loss. This time, the Bears at least scored more, although not by much. The same problems plagued the blue and gold: they simply could not put the ball in the basket.
Cal once again held its own in the first half. It had a 7-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the half, before conceding a 11-0 run to lose the winning margin, which it would never regain. They went into the half down five, and the deficit only continued to grow in the second half, even reaching up to 20. The Bears eventually fell in another 15-point loss, 61-46.
The Bears could not throw the ball into the ocean on Sunday. They posted 34/24/50 shooting splits, only making four threes. Kuany Kuany again hit double figures, with Lars Thiemann joining him this time, but no other regular rotation player had more than one made field goal. Even though the turnovers were kept down, points just could not be generated.
In what has been a disappointing, lost season for the Bears, they play for their dignity at this point. The team will welcome the Arizona schools to Berkeley this coming week.