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Cal men's basketball falls short against Oregon State, 77-71

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RACHAEL GARNER | FILE

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JANUARY 09, 2016

Pac-12 commentator Bill Walton asked a thought-provoking question to tip off the Cal men’s basketball game against Oregon State: Who would win a fight, a bear or a beaver? The obvious answer was the bear, but Walton played devil’s advocate, praising the beaver’s intelligence and agility.

Walton’s wise words would prove true by the time the final buzzer rang at Gill Coliseum. Despite the Bears’(12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) best efforts to rally from a 14-point deficit in the second half, the Beavers (11-3, 2-1) would hold on, 77-71, to defend their home court in Corvallis, Oregon.

“It’s strange because normally when a team presses you that much, you turn it over in the back court,” said Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin. “We just had bad turnovers.”

Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle came in with a game plan that his team executed to perfection: Slow the pace, play the passing lanes and keep Cal from getting out in transition. He realized the Bears’ offense stalled in the half court and struggled moving the ball against the zone. Although Cal hit 52.2 percent of its field goals, it took 17 less shots than Oregon State and coughed up the ball 16 times.

Cal started the game by hitting its first three shots, while forcing the Beavers to miss their first three field goal attempts. After this, however, the Bears proceeded to miss their next seven shots and allowed Oregon State to take the lead, which it didn’t surrender for the rest of the game.

The Beavers’ run was led by guard Gary Payton II. With his dad, NBA hall-of-famer Gary Payton, sitting courtside, the senior torched every Cal wing that checked him. Even senior guard Tyrone Wallace, one of the best on-ball defenders on the Bears, struggled to keep up with the blinding speed and unusual strength of Payton. On more than one occasion, he bulldozed his way to the paint only to miss the shot, get his own rebound and put it back up and in. He finished the first half with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists, leading the Beavers to a 38-27 advantage heading into the locker room.

Martin elected to play guard Sam Singer for almost the entirety of the second half to grease the wheels on offense, allowing Wallace to play off the ball and in transition. When Singer subbed in for starting center Kingsley Okoroh after the lead ballooned to 14 points, the Bears proceeded to go on a 16-5 run in an eight-minute stretch to make the lead only three points at 46-43.

Cal’s rally back into the game was led by forward Jaylen Brown, who recorded 20 points and seven rebounds for the most impressive performance of his collegiate career. The Beavers did an excellent job of preventing transition opportunities in the first half but could not contain the explosive forward in the second. When it seemed like Oregon State was going to break open the game, Brown converted a layup in transition, contributed to a stop on defense and got out in transition to hammer down an explosive dunk.

Brown’s performance, however, would be negated by Cal’s sloppy play down the stretch and an inability to prevent Oregon State from scoring. With less than two minutes left, Bears guard Jordan Mathews hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to two but Payton responded by hitting a tough floater for the and-one to put his squad back up five. That would prove to be the dagger as Cal would not score again for the rest of the game.

Winston Cho covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @winstonscho
LAST UPDATED

JANUARY 09, 2016


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