With five seconds remaining in Sunday’s first half, Justin Cobbs dribbled past half court, went around a screen and promptly dribbled off his foot before he could hoist a 3-pointer.
It was that kind of game for the Cal men’s basketball team.
The 25 points the Badgers scored off 23 Cal turnovers was coincidentally their margin of victory at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc., as the Bears lost their first game of the season, 81-56.
Cal (6-1) was led by Allen Crabbe’s 25 points, but take away the junior’s 8-for-15 shooting performance and the Bears were just 10-for-32 from the field. With all the turnovers, the squad was rarely in rhythm offensively.
Cobbs, who came in averaging 20 points per game, managed just 11 points to go with seven turnovers. Tyrone Wallace and Richard Solomon each had three points and combined for eight turnovers.
For the first time this season, Cal lost the battle of the boards. Wisconsin (5-3) tallied 18 second-chance points off 13 offensive rebounds.
Both teams started off cold. Crabbe hit a pair of free throws to take the lead 6-5 after five minutes of play. But the Badgers scored the next 14 points as they began to run away with the game. The Bears then scored six in a row, but Wisconsin answered with an 12-0 run.
Cal’s defense often lazily gave up layups, allowing the Badgers to shoot 52 percent from the field while the Bears were shooting up bricks.
Crabbe made the first half score look respectable. The swingman scored eight of Cal’s final 12 points of the half and had a pass that went for two more. Still, his team was down, 37-24 — and it was about to get worse for head coach Mike Montgomery’s club.
Cobbs sunk a pair of free throws to open the second period. But the Badgers scored 11 straight to take a commanding 20-point lead. The Bears did not make a field goal until five minutes into the half.
With 8:40 to go and Cal down by 24, Solomon was assessed a technical foul for elbowing Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter. Solomon later fouled out.
Guard Ben Brust scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Six-foot-10 senior Jared Berggren had 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Bears return home to Haas Pavilion to take on two nationally ranked teams: No. 24 UNLV on Sunday at 3 p.m. and No. 11 Creighton on Dec. 15.
Jonathan Kuperberg covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]