In a matchup between the country’s 15th best offense and sixth best defense in terms of field goal percentage, Wednesday’s matchup of Seton Hall and the Cal men’s basketball team was sure to be fiercely competitive.
After winning the first game of the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Monday, the Bears didn’t even have time to enjoy a celebratory beverage in a halved coconut with one of those cute little umbrellas before considering the next task at hand: the pesky Pirates.
And those Pirates plundered the Bears’ proud defense, stifling the still-banged-up Ivan Rabb enough to peg-leggedly hobble away with a tropical victory over the Bears, 60-57.
After jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead thanks to Ivan Rabb and Sam Singer, the Bear offense stalled and Seton Hall went on a run of its own. After a jumper from Angel Delgado, the Pirates lead 15-12 while their foes suffered from a bit of offensive scurvy.
Unable to effectively get the ball to Rabb, who only scored two more points in the entire first half after recording the game’s first score, the Bears relied — once again — on freshman Charlie Moore. The young gun was money again, lighting it up for 2-of-3 from deep and 4-of-8 overall in the first period.
Thanks to the heroics of their young savior, as well as the returning Jabari Bird, who had himself quite the first half as well with 12 points and eight rebounds, Cal went into the halftime break up 34-31.
The second half didn’t sail quite so smoothly for the Bears, though. Whether the Pirates hadn’t quite found their sea legs in the first period or perhaps had their collective eye patch on the wrong eye, they came out of the break looking for some maritime vengeance.
Seton Hall began attacking inside out, forcing fouls on Ivan Rabb while simultaneously opening up its three-point attack. Through 10 minutes, the Pirates had shot 50 percent from three, had forced Rabb to sit with four fouls and had taken a 47-45 lead.
It was as if the Pirates’ shoulder parrot had cried “Polly wants some defense!” as well, as Seton Hall also forced Cal into a more than five-minute scoring drought. Before their offense lost its hand, the Bears were up 45-42. When they finally got a hook, they found themselves down 47-49.
But with six seconds left and down 57-59, Cal had one last chance. The Bears stole the ball and gave it to Jabari Bird, who heaved a three-pointer that would have given his team the lead and the win. He just missed, finishing his day 1-of-7 from deep, and the Bears fell.
The Bears did alright on the defensive end, as bad as it seemed, forcing the usually stellar Seton Hall attack to just a 46 percent field goal average and just 27 percent from deep. But, when the offense could only muster 19 percent from three, and Rabb only went for eight points while playing just the fourth-most minutes of any Bear because of foul trouble, Cal has more to blame for its loss than just the curse of Davey Jones.