The Cal student section at Haas Pavilion is yelling out an early shot clock, and George Washington guard Tony Taylor has found himself dribbling at the top of the arc.
He had opened the possession by taking out his mouth guard and barking directions at his teammates, but a series of passes only cycled the ball back. So he pulls up, the red digits ticking down three, two, one.
The 3-pointer rattles in as the buzzer sounds. Taylor turns, walking away with deliberate swagger and a one-point lead.
That was the Colonials’ last bucket of the first half; the Cal men’s basketball team soon cruised to an 81-54 win on Sunday night.
Facing their first deficit of the season, the No. 24 Bears closed the opening period with a 21-0 run. Cal (2-0) bodied up defense and couldn’t miss on the other end, missing only two shots over a six-minute span — a run that include three 3-pointers and a perfect 4-of-4 showing at the line.
“Coach just talked about defense,” backup guard Justin Cobbs said. “We were getting the first move, we were stopping them and getting on the break.”
Starting guard Jorge Gutierrez and Cobbs led the rally with 10 points apiece in the first half. The duo finished with 15 and 16, respectively.
The smooth-shooting Allen Crabbe continued his habit of lighting up the second half, sinking 13 points to finish with a game-high total of 21. The sophomore was particularly deadly from deep, hitting 5-of-9 on 3-point attempts. The reigning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year was helped by a few friendly bounces as well; on one banked-in 3-pointer, Crabbe rushed down the lane anticipating a rebound.
Sloppy turnovers contributed in part to the Bears’ early deficit. Bounce passes went off target and players sometimes simply tripped over their feet. Despite stealing the ball only once in the first 20 minutes, a physical George Washington team benefited from 10 Cal turnovers, converting 15 points off turnovers before halftime.
“We were playing their game,” freshman forward David Kravish said. “Going way too fast and making bad shots and doing whatever they wanted us to do. Coach told us to slow down.”
Added Montgomery, “We started the game, we were a little bit lax … Didn’t think we had a (good edge) tonight.”
Forward Richard Solomon also logged two quick fouls in the first four minutes, strapping him to the bench for the remainder of the half. Kravish filled in well, turning in five points and five rebounds, including two on the offensive end. He didn’t score again but added a block and led the team with nine boards.
As the Bears continued to hold off George Washington, shooting 53.8 percent in the second half to the Colonials’ 45.2, starters sat down one by one. Six players logged at least 24 minutes; only Crabbe hit 30.
“I don’t want to run Harper (Kamp) and Jorge and Crabbe into the ground,” Montgomery said. “We have to find combinations of people that can play together and maintain (the lead).”