Jabari Bird's season-high game can't lift Bears over Ducks, 80-69

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FEBRUARY 26, 2015

Sophomore guard Jabari Bird finished the night with 22 points. He had a heck of a game. An incredible game. An exciting game. But if the Cal men’s basketball team pretty much just entirely consists of Bird, that just won’t cut it. Especially when Oregon has Joseph Young walk away with 25, Dwayne Benjamin hit 18 and Elgin Cook come up with 17.

So, despite a close first half and a time where it looked like the Bears could pull away, Cal ended up falling 80-69 to the Ducks at Haas Pavilion after an Oregon run about midway through the second half that the Bears just couldn’t recover from.

The game started well enough for the Bears, keeping the deficit in the first half to about four points, and Cal went into the half trailing 39-37. Bird had a team-high 16 points, shooting 7-13 from the line with two 3-pointers as well as five rebounds in that first half alone. He accounted for about 43 percent of Cal’s points.

Behind him on the stat sheet was forward David Kravish, whose eight points was enough to keep the game close. Tyrone Wallace, a guard, had just four points, and fellow guard Jordan Mathews, who was returning to the starting lineup after an ankle injury, finished up that first half with just three points.

But at least the game was close.

In the second half, no one had a true standout performance, and that ended up hurting the Bears. Bird had six points, Mathews had eight points, Wallace had seven points, Kravish had six points and guard Sam Singer, who came off the bench, had five points. But with no one really shooting all that well, Cal didn’t stand a chance against big second-half numbers from Benjamin and Cook, who put up 14 and 13, respectively.

“I was being aggressive, making plays,” Bird said. “Second half, I just didn’t make any plays.”

Bird’s aggression in the first half just didn’t quite translate to the second half with only one rebound to show for his efforts.

Wallace only shot 2-10 from the field, with most of his points coming from his work at the charity stripe, where he shot 7-9. But, as a team, the Bears shot less than 60 percent from the line, compared to Oregon’s 85 percent performance.

Kravish said free throws do always matter, especially when games come down to it.

“It’s not for shortage of working on it, we shoot them everyday in numbers,” Kravish said. “It’s just something we’ve got to get down.”

Head coach Cuonzo Martin, too, said he couldn’t quite figure out the free throw problem, thinking maybe it had something to do with the team’s level of confidence. He also said it wasn’t for lack of practicing, saying the team spends more time practicing those shots than he’d like.

Cal gave up a lot of second-chance points to the Ducks, who also took advantage of the Bears’ small ball lineup, especially when forward Dwight Tarwater spent time on the bench due to early foul trouble.

With Cook, Benjamin and Young all in double digits, the Bears’ defense had its hands full. Benjamin got quite a few long looks at the basket and Cook did a good job of taking advantage of mismatches on defense and getting to the free throw line. With Young, Martin said the team’s strategy was just to “defend him,” but the Bears weren’t even close to being able to do that, the quick guard causing problems for Cal.

“To their credit, they knocked down the shots,” Kravish said.

Contact Shannon Carroll at  or on Twitter


FEBRUARY 26, 2015

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