In his first career start, freshman guard Tyrone Wallace did not disappoint.
Replacing senior guard Brandon Smith, Wallace provided a much needed spark on offense, and his 10 second half points led the Cal men’s basketball team to a 68-59 win over UCSB (4-6).
Wallace proved his ability to create his own shot and helped space the floor for a Cal squad (7-3) that struggled offensively out of the gate for the second straight week.
The Bears missed five straight three-pointers to end the first half and went into the break having scored just 36% of their shots. But 10 offensive boards and 10 first half points from forward Robert Thurman — six coming on put-backs — kept Cal ahead of the Gauchos.
After UCSB center Alan Williams hit a baseline jump hook to cut Cal’s lead to 24-19, the Bears rattled off eight straight points — four coming underneath from Thurman — to push their lead up to 13. The Gauchos’ Lewis Thomas finally connected on a three to stop the bleeding, pulling his team within 10 points at the break, down 32-22.
Then it turned into the Tyrone Wallace show.
After a silent first half with no points and one assist, Wallace first snuck his way into the lane and drew a pair of defenders, then dished to a wide open Christian Behrens for an easy two. On the next play he drained an open three, prompting a UCSB timeout and giving Cal its biggest lead of the game at 43-27 with 15:37 remaining in the second half.
After a quick rest, Wallace re-entered the game four minutes later and immediately broke down the Gaucho defense to get into the lane, then dished to an open Ricky Kreklow for an easy two. On the next play, the freshman spotted up and drained an open three.
In his breakthrough performance, Wallace also grabbed 10 boards and dished out four assists, earning his first career double double. He was just one of four Bears — alongside Thurman, David Kravish and Allen Crabbe — who finished with double digit points.
Coming off the bench, Brandon Smith would then put in a three to make it 58-34 to Cal at the nine-minute mark, and the Bears cruised the rest of the way. A series of late Gaucho scores from beyond the arc narrowed the final deficit to nine — a final score that belied a lopsided game towards the Bears.
Cal will return to Haas Pavilion on Dec. 22 to face Prairie View A&M.
Contact Connor Byrne at [email protected]