Sometimes life throws you punches. You may get knocked down, you may falter, but it is about how you respond to those punches that define you. After suffering their first loss of the season Friday to Pacific, the Cal men’s basketball team responded Monday evening with a blowout win over CSU Bakersfield.
A punch was thrown Cal’s way, but it was able to recover and deliver one of its own. It seemed like the team was firing on all cylinders Monday night; everything was clicking for the Bears on both sides of the ball.
The team was hot out of the gates from behind the arc, knocking down 11 3-pointers in the first half alone. The lights-out shooting from the blue and gold had them leading by 15 at half with a score of 49-34. The Bears continued their dominant play in the second half, finishing the contest with a 20-point lead and a final score of 83-63.
This hot shooting from Cal is promising, and a big step up from last season when it averaged just under five 3-pointers per game and shot the 3-ball at a 29.8% clip. This year, though a small sample size, the squad is averaging just over nine 3-pointers a game, shooting with a 37.8% clip. If the Bears can continue producing at this rate, it will be a huge element added to their game — one not at their disposal last season.
The blue and gold canned a total of 15 triples against the Roadrunners with fifth-year senior Jalen Cone leading the way, knocking down seven from behind the arc. It was a joint effort in the scoring department as all five starters contributed double figure scoring marks. 6’7” junior Jaylon Tyson added 13 points to go along with 12 boards and seven assists while Fardaws Aimaq dropped in another 14 points. Devin Askew and Grant Newell contributed to the scoring as well, pouring in 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
Cal also dished out 18 assists and only converted eight turnovers as a team. Low turnovers and a high assist rate is a lethal combination.
Not only was the offense hot, but the defense only allowed 63 points while securing 45 boards, out-rebounding Bakersfield by 12. The only low spot for the Bears was that they sent the Roadrunners to the free-throw line 33 times throughout the game. That is a total that Cal will look to limit as the season progresses because a more talented team will certainly take advantage of those opportunities.
Though the sample size is small, Cal’s numbers have improved in most statistical categories this season as opposed to last. Points, rebounds, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and assists have all increased in efficiency. If the Bears can keep this performance up, they will be an entirely different team from last season’s disappointment.
The Bears moved back above .500 with a record of 2-1. They will look to finish off their four-game homestand to begin the season with a win against Montana State on Thursday night.