Spartans show little fight in 45-point loss to Bears

Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez kept the Bears afloat in the first half, scoring 10 of the squad's first 13 points of the contest.
Danielle Lee/File
Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez kept the Bears afloat in the first half, scoring 10 of the squad's first 13 points of the contest.

There wasn’t one thing that stood out for the Cal men’s basketball team in its 81-36 trouncing of San Jose State on Wednesday night. It was everything.

The Spartans (3-6) kept the game close for about a minute and a half at Haas Pavilion. Then Bears guard Allen Crabbe broke the 2-2 tie with a jumper from the top of the key, followed by a three-point play in transition. San Jose State did not score its second basket until nearly six minutes into the game; by then, the game had long since ended.

“Cal just put their will on us physically,” Spartans head coach George Nessman said. “We’d been scoring in the 70s relatively easily. I thought we stopped moving, and they just took it to us. They deserved to kick our butt. We hadn’t had a team shut us down like that all season.”

Indeed, Cal (7-2) dominated every facet of the game — the Bears made 19 more baskets than the Spartans and had 20 more rebounds. Cal shot 49.2 percent from the field; SJSU just barely surpassed 20 percent.

Coming off a one-point loss at San Diego State, the Bears jumped on the Spartans early. They led 15-2 at the first media timeout and tacked on two free throws just after at the 14:32 mark. In the second half, it took the Spartans six minutes to score their first basket; Cal scored 15 in that time.

“I think we’re playing well together right now,” point guard Justin Cobbs said. “Always gonna be a little more fired up after a loss … I think our main thing is just learning each others’ game and each others’ flow.”

Crabbe and senior Jorge Gutierrez led the squad with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Cobbs, who had “earned” the starting role over Brandon Smith, according to head coach Mike Montgomery, impressed with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and just one turnover.

Freshman forward David Kravish nearly had a double-double in his first career start. In place of the suspended Richard Solomon, Kravish posted nine points and 10 boards. He seemed to improve throughout his 28 minutes on the court. At first he was tentative, failing to secure rebounds, but he seemed to get stronger and more confident as the game progressed. Early in the first half, he caught a pass at the elbow. No defender stepped up, so he took the shot and swished it.

Solomon, meanwhile, was animated on the bench, encouraging his teammates. At times it seemed like he was showing more energy than many of the San Jose State players on the court. Montgomery said the sophomore forward will be reinstated and ready to go in the Bears’ next contest, Sunday afternoon against Jackson State.

As usual, Gutierrez was tasked with stopping the opponent’s best player. James Kinney came in averaging 18.1 points per game, shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. The 6-foot-2 junior guard missed all 12 of his field goals and did not score a point. His 10th miss bounced around the rim but, alas, he received no shooter’s roll.

“That’s what Jorge does,” Cobbs said.  “If the coach gives him an assignment, he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do.”

Kinney’s teammates weren’t that much better, especially in the first half. Besides forward Wil Carter, who totaled 11 points before the break, the rest of the squad shot 1-for-17, and only one other player scored. Crabbe’s 14 first-half points nearly matched the Spartans’ 15.