Cal men’s basketball has no trouble with Oregon State, wins 76-46

Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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As the winds of one of the final frigid nights of winter rolled through Berkeley, the Bears were heating up in Haas. In the final home game of the season, the Bears beat up on Oregon State, 76-46, behind usual stalwart Ivan Rabb and blooming star Charlie Moore.

Rabb, in what may very well have been the Oakland native’s final game in front of the blue and gold home crowd, came out ready to play. A powerful and-one finish on Cal’s very first possession of the night set the tone for what would be a thoroughly dominating game from the forward. His 16-point, nine-rebound and two-assist night was as powerful as it was efficient, as he shot only 11 times and turned it over just twice.

“Obviously, we let Oregon slip away. So this game, we wanted to take it out on somebody else,” said Rabb. “It’s not too late to reach our potential.”

But the Beavers began the night hot from deep. The rightly predominant focus the Bears were paying to OSU’s best player, Drew Eubanks, allowed opportunities at the perimeter for a team that averages only 6.3 threes a game. They hit two in the first two minutes as the usually anemic attack opened four-of-five from the field, and down 12-5, the Bears were quickly reeling.

Cal began taking care of Eubanks, though. The forward managed only one shot in the the game’s first 10 minutes, missing badly and getting boxed out on every rebound opportunity by either one of the two big men Cal always had in. When at least one of Rabb, Kingsley Okoroh and Kam Rooks has eyes for you every time the ball goes up, it’s going to be hard to bring it down. Slowing Eubanks contributed to a nearly five-minute Beaver scoring drought, wherein Cal fought back and took the 15-14 lead behind an emphatic breakaway dunk from Jabari Bird, who just a couple minutes later put Matt Dahlen on a poster with a dunk that fed the lead, 21-17.

Cal was able to hold and build this lead going into the half thanks to a lockdown defensive showing, forcing another four-plus-minute scoreless streak from OSU and a spectacular offensive finish from Rabb. The star sophomore went for 14 points and seven rebounds in the period, and the Bears forced 10 first-half turnovers, heading into the break up 39-26 despite making zero of seven three-point attempts.

And the young Moore made sure the team’s collective foot was still on the pedal to open the second, draining a three and a floater on consecutive possessions to put Cal up 44-30. A beautiful dime from the freshman to Jabari led to the Birdman’s third powerful jam of the evening, and the Bear lead was quickly looking insurmountable. The Beavers went into a full-court press with over 14 minutes to go in the game, but this led to far more foul shots for the Bears than turnovers.

A missed wide-open dunk from Eubanks turned into a jumper on the other end from Moore, which not only marked the beginning of the end at 55-35 but also succinctly summarized a game in which the Beavers were simply outmatched. The game had been over a while before the final whistle finally blew, and the Bears claimed their 10th conference win, 76-46.

From here, though, it remains a must-win, regular-season playoff series for Cal. No berth in the NCAA tournament has been secured by any stretch of the imagination, and handing a team their 25th loss ain’t exactly that impressive. The Bears still need to win their final two games on the road against Utah and Colorado to maximize their chance of returning to the land of the mad.

“We just wanted to put a complete game together,” said Sam Singer. “We need to make the most of the ones we have left.”

Austin Isaacsohn covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @AustinIsaacsohn.