After two disappointing losses at the hands of inferior opponents, the Cal men’s basketball team has plummeted out of the AP Top 25.
After being ranked No. 14 one week ago, the Bears dropped their final two games of the Las Vegas Invitational, falling to San Diego State, 72-58, and to Richmond, 94-90.
“I think defensively we weren’t as sound, consistent as we needed to be,” said head coach Cuonzo Martin after Cal’s loss to the Aztecs. “I think it was good for our guys. Unfortunately we learned through a loss but we’ll get it corrected.”
Although the Bears battled back from a 15-point deficit against Richmond on Friday, they fell victim to a late run by the Spiders. Despite shooting a season-best 53.8 percent from the floor and switching to an effective 2-3 zone late in the game, Cal was unable to stop senior forward Terry Allen, who finished the game with 34 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bears will now be looking to right the ship Tuesday night, when the team will return to Haas Pavilion to host Seattle. The Redhawks, who joined the Western Athletic Conference in 2012, earned an invite to the College Basketball Invitational last season after finishing the regular season with a 16-15 record.
The Redhawks will bring a 2-3 record to Berkeley, having won their last two games against Eastern Washington and Great Falls. Against the Argonauts on Wednesday, Seattle went on a 12-0 run in the second half to create a double-digit lead, which they maintained for the rest of the game.
Seattle is currently ranked 33rd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing a measly 62.2 points per game. On the other side of the ball, the Redhawks are led by center Jack Crook — the only senior on Seattle’s active roster this year — who recorded 17 and 16 points against Eastern Washington and Great Falls, respectively. Crook is leading the Redhawks with his 12.8 points-per-game average and is averaging 7.2 boards per game. Cal will also have to account for junior guard Brendan Westendorf, who has averaged 12 points per game, along with a team-leading 7.6 assists.
The Bears will be viewed as the favorites heading into Tuesday’s matchup, just as they were against San Diego State and Richmond. But they will have to notch an impressive win if they hope to prove that their losing streak was a fluke rather than a skid.