A showdown with No. 7 Arizona (18-2, 6-1 Pac-12) was likely not going to be the remedy for the struggling Cal men’s basketball team (11-9, 1-6). The Bears fell 73-50 to the Wildcats on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion in their fifth consecutive loss by double digits.
“We’ve just got to find a flow. I think we find it in spurts,” said senior forward David Kravish. “We came out and played hard. We’ve just got to keep taking steps and keep fighting for it.”
During the two teams’ first meeting last season — nearly one year ago — a 16-foot jumper from then-Cal point guard Justin Cobbs sealed a 60-58 Bears victory over then-No. 1 Arizona. The loss was the Wildcats’ first of the season and provided one of the most exciting moments in Cal sports history.
Now a season removed from one of the iconic games in recent memory, the 2014-15 Bears are without Cobbs and in the middle of a six-game losing streak. Head coach Cuonzo Martin trotted out the same lineup Saturday night as against Arizona State, consisting of graduate transfer Dwight Tarwater, junior guard Tyrone Wallace, Kravish and sophomore guards Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews.
Arizona kept a small but steady lead during the first half until a trey from Bird tied the game at 11 apiece with 7:24 remaining. With just over five minutes to play in the period, the Bears were shooting 32 percent from the field. But Cal earned its first lead of the night on a layup from Kravish to make the score 17-15 with 3:57 to play. Kravish finished with a team-leading eight points in the first half and recorded his 207th career block, becoming the all-time program leader in blocks.
The Wildcats, however, ended the half on a 12-2 run in less than four minutes, entering halftime with a comfortable 29-19 lead behind 11 points from forward Stanley Johnson. The freshman is currently the team’s scoring leader, averaging 14.8 points per game. Arizona shot 50 percent from the field in the half, while its bench tallied 12 points, compared with the Bears’ zero.
“They’ve got some big guys,” Kravish said. “They run a lot of guys at you. … They’re good at getting down low and making moves.”
Cal opened the second half by making only one of its first five field goal attempts, while Arizona expanded its lead to 17 to make the score 40-23 with 15:04 remaining. The Bears’ lack of depth reared its ugly head again, with only Bird, Mathews, Kravish and Wallace tallying points during the game, while nine different players scored for the Wildcats. Arizona also went a nearly perfect 23-26 from the charity stripe.
Wallace, a two-time Pac-12 Player of the Week this season, has only scored a combined 20 points in the Bears’ last two games. He was subbed out after being called for his fourth personal with 10:26 in the game, as Arizona proceeded to run the score to 57-35 with eight minutes left. Cal has had only 39 assists but 63 turnovers in its last four games, including on its last two possessions in Saturday’s game.
“I thought our guys — not the whole game, but for the most part — put together a really solid effort, just played a better team,” Martin said. “We’ll continue getting better.”