Hey there! My name’s MadBum, and I’ll be the new basketball writer around these parts. I’ve been blogging about Cal since February of 2010 over at Since 59, mainly following basketball although giving brief recaps about football. From now on, I’ll be providing most if not all the basketball coverage in the form of recaps, previews, and news. This allows Shaan to focus on football, which suits the both of us best.
The last time our coverage centered around basketball, the Golden Bears were on a 3 game winning streak and flying high at 5-4 in conference play. Things have changed since then, however, and Cal now sits at 6-7 in conference. How did this happen? A short recap of every game:
Cal 66- Arizona State 62
A win is a win, but you would have liked to see more style points against a team like Arizona State, who the loss dropped them to 1-9 in Pac-10 play at the time. But the Bears deserve credit, because they got a terrible shooting effort from Allen Crabbe and Jorge Gutierrez but still fought for a win. The key was the Bears getting to the line, as they had 29 attempts at the foul line while ASU has 12. The advantage there and on the rebounding side of things gave the Bears the victory.
Cal held the lead for most of the first but couldn’t get any separation, so they went into halftime ahead 38-36. A trio of three pointers from Rihard Kuksiks, Jamelle McMillan, and Ty Abbott put Arizona State up 59-52 with 7:25 left to play. The Bears got 6 free throws to make it 60-58 before Brandon Smith hit a 3 pointer with 4:43 to play to put the Bears ahead for good. Despite his terrible shooting night, Crabbe hit the 3 pointer with 18 seconds left to finish off the Sun Devils.
Arizona 107- Cal 105 (3 OT)
An absolute heartbreaker. Cal probably had the game won in regulation and in the second overtime, but let MoMo Jones get a pair of plays that tied it up when the Wildcats were down 3. In regulation, Arizona went for a quick 2 with 16 seconds left, but Jones got the bucket and the foul to tie it up. In the second OT, Jones made a pull-up 3 pointer to tie it up with only 6 ticks left on the clock. Arizona finally finished off Cal, although Harper Kamp did miss a potential tying jump shot with 13 seconds left. He probably should have pulled it out and tried to get a better shot, but it was not to be. The Bears lost in a soul crusher.
Both Gutierrez and Sanders-Frison fouled out, leaving them unavailable for the overtime. Kamp scored 33 points while Crabbe scored 27, 2 of them being the tying jumper in the first overtime. Smith, Crabbe, and Kamp both played over 50 minutes. Cal held the Pac-10’s best player, Derrick Williams, to just 12 points on the night.
Washington 109- Cal 77
This game was never close, so there’s no real use trying to recap it. Allen Crabbe was concussed by a knee to the face from Aziz N’Diaye after just 10 minutes of play, but it probably didn’t matter. Jeff Powers scored 13 points in his place while Gutierrez led the team with 24 points. The Huskies could not miss from beyond the arc, shooting 55%, and when they’re shooting like that they’re impossible to beat.
Washington State 75- Cal 71
Another tight, competitive loss that Cal had chances to win. Jorge Gutierrez had a 3 point try with 5 seconds left that would have tied the game at 74, but the shot missed and the Cougars rebounded and finished off the win. It took solid play down the stretch, as Cal trailed by 7 with a minute and a half to play. The Bears trailed by as much as 11 in the second, but fought back. They did not lead in the second half.
Gutierrez led the team with 19 points despite having a bad shooting night. Jeff Powers replaced Crabbe quite well, with 14 points despite rarely playing all year. The teams shot very similarly from the field, but WSU had 10 more made free throws and 14 more attempts. That proved to be the difference in the game.
The 1-3 record for the last 2 weeks puts a serious damper on the hopes for an at-large bid for the Bears. With 3 straight chances for a quality win, Cal didn’t get one. At 13-12 and under .500 in conference, Cal will likely have to win the conference tournament to get into the Big Dance. Go Bears!