The most exciting moment of Cal’s 73-62 loss to Oregon in Eugene was when the little-used Jacob Orender entered the game at the 14:25 mark of the first half.
It was amusing but ultimately pointless, sort of like Cal’s basketball season.
The loss was the Bears’ 11th straight of the season, their longest losing streak in program history and their 10th straight loss in conference play, a feat never accomplished in its 104 years in conference play.
As the game started, both teams struggled on the offensive end in the first half but found ways to express their mediocrity on that end of the floor in their own special ways.
The Bears shot abysmally from beyond the arc, making only one of their 11 attempts in the first 20 minutes. Overall, Cal shot only 30 percent from the field, converting on only eight of their 27 shots.
Nonetheless, the Bears were able to hang around in the first half thanks to Oregon’s inability to take care of the ball. The Ducks shot well from beyond the arc (35 percent) and decent enough from the field (44 percent) but had a whopping 11 turnovers, which the Bears were able to convert into 12 points.
Despite their self-inflicted errors, the Ducks established control of the game by outrebounding the Bears 22-12 on the boards and going on an 11-0 run thanks to their aggressive press defense that forced Cal into six turnovers and empty offensive possessions.
Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard, who had been struggling heading into the night, had 9 points (6 of them from 3-pointers) to go along with seven rebounds as he established the Ducks’ rhythm offensively.
Paul White and Louis King had 6 and 7 points, respectively, while the uber-athletic Kenny Wooten added 4 points, including a putback poster dunk and three blocks.
Justice Sueing led the Bears with 8 points, including going four of five from the charity stripe. Paris Austin added 6 points, and McNeill contributed 5, including the Bears’ lone 3-pointer as Cal headed into the locker down 32-21.
Oregon never looked back in the second half, as they maintained their defensive stranglehold thanks to the Ducks’ machinelike press defense and the Bears’ failure to generate quality offense or effective defensive series.
The Ducks shot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field and a lethal 42 percent from 3-land.
Pritchard continued his strong first-half showing as he scored 11 points after halftime, while Wooten, King, White and Will Richardson combined for 21.
Meanwhile, the Bears bounced back nicely offensively, especially from beyond the arc, where Cal shot 63 percent, but it didn’t matter in the face of the Bears’ continued incompetence on the defensive end.
Overall, the Bears were decent offensively thanks to the scoring outputs of Sueing, Austin and Connor Vanover but were again outrebounded (33-23) and unable to defend, as they allowed the Ducks to shoot 55 percent from the field for the game.
The once-promising freshman Andre Kelly continued his disappointing play, as he finished with zero points, rebounds and assists — the first time that has happened all year long.
As of press time, Cal’s chance of going winless in the Pac-12 was about 20 percent, according to KenPom.
No defense, troubling offensive trends and player regression.
The Bears will face the Oregon State Beavers this coming Saturday as they hope to bust their streak.
Rory O’Toole covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].