Cal passes first road test with win in Denver

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After the Cal men’s basketball team’s 78-65 win over Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday, coach Mike Montgomery called out his big men, saying that they had to do a better job finishing around the basket.

And senior Robert Thurman and sophomore David Kravish responded Friday night in Denver, collectively finishing with 21 points on 10 of 16 shooting while paving the way for a 72-61 win over Denver University.

The Bears’ guards struggled to find their rhythm out of the gate, missing 5 of their first 6 shots. The Boones would capitalize, and rode a pair of threes to take an early 8-2 lead.

Cal would continue to struggle shooting the ball, but tightened their defense and generated a slew of layups. Despite hitting just two jump shots in the first 20 minutes and shooting just 33% from the field, Cal climbed back into the game and took a 29-28 lead into the break.

The Bears started to pick things up in the second half, hitting 10 of their first 13 shots. After a pair of free throws from shooting guard Allen Crabbe, senior Brandon Smith stole the ball at half court and slashed between two Denver defenders for a reverse layup, putting Cal up 33-28.

Then it turned into the Robert Thurman show.

The 6-10 senior clanked a pair of free throws, but followed his miss and redeemed himself with an emphatic two-hand dunk. On Cal’s next two possessions, sophomore Ricky Kreklow fed the ball into Thurman on the block, who both times spun inside and finished with an easy layup to put his team up 43-37.

Thurman finished the game with 10 points — all coming in the second half.

A pair of Chris Udofia layups including a three-point play cut the lead to 1. But Justin Cobbs quickly turned a missed jump shot into a transition layup, and Thurman found Crabbe for an open three — his 1,000th point as a Cal player. Thurman then hit a jump hook from the block, and all of a sudden, the Bears’ lead was up to 10.

Denver just couldn’t handle Cal’s size inside. Whether it be Thurman or Kravish, the Boones had no answer inside.

Then when Denver put their focus inside, Cobbes and Crabbe accounted for 6 straight points, giving the Bears a 60-44 lead with just 5 minutes left.

Crabbe led the Bears in scoring for the third straight game, putting in 20 points on 6 of 12 shooting.

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