Cal men’s basketball falls in familiar fashion to Arizona State

Basketball player dribbles ball and looks ahead in anticipation.
Lorenzo Dela Cruz /File

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About a month ago when Cal men’s basketball and Arizona State first met, Cal went into halftime with a lead before Arizona State overcame a cold first half and caught fire in the second half en route to a win, wasting Matt Bradley’s career night.

The latest matchup on Sunday, by contrast, was a far different story. When these teams ran it back in Tempe, Cal went into halftime with a lead before Arizona State overcame a cold first half and caught fire in the second half en route to a win, wasting Matt Bradley’s career night. Wait.

Talk about déjà vu all over again.

The Bears couldn’t find heavenly refuge at Wells Fargo Arena and further descended into the depths of college basketball’s version of hell with a 69-59 loss to the Sun Devils, extending the historic losing streak to 16 games.

In what could best be described as a carbon copy of their first encounter, Cal came out and punched Arizona State in the mouth, heading into the break with a six-point halftime lead. While the Bears did come out with some energy, it was the Sun Devils shooting just 25.9 percent from the field in the first half that truly defined the early going.

But as in the first encounter, Arizona State flipped the switch and Cal could do nothing about it. With Luguentz Dort and Rob Edwards leading the way, ASU scored 41 points on 57.1 percent shooting in the second half while Cal only hit a third of its shots and scored 25 points.

The Bears’ frustration figuratively and literally came to a head late in the second half when Paris Austin butted heads with Dort while bringing the ball up the floor, causing the Sun Devils’ star freshman to hit the deck and remain there even as no whistle was called.

It’s unclear if Austin had malicious intent or if he was just trying to gain some separation. Dort had been an irritant on the defensive end, spending most of the game hounding whoever brought the ball up, which could have been the source of Austin’s ire.

Regardless, the move left Dort on the floor, but he was able to return to action and even had an emphatic slam as payback a few minutes later.

With another sub-60 point performance, there wasn’t much to boast in the optimism department, but Cal found momentary salvation in Bradley.

Every player seems to have that one team he always plays well against, and for Bradley, Arizona State is that team. After totaling a then career-high 19 points in his first meeting with the Sun Devils, Bradley one-upped himself to the tune of 23 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bradley knocked down a career-high five three-pointers, raising his three-point percentage on the season to 48.4 percent, good for ninth best in the nation, and extending his streak of games with at least one made three-pointer to nine games.

While Bradley extended a personal streak, Justice Sueing had one of his own come to a close. Sueing’s streak of games hitting double figures came to an end as the forward only totaled nine points on 3 of 11 shooting. During Sueing’s eight-game streak, he averaged 17.4 points on 49.5 percent from the field.

Justice delos Santos covers men’s basketball. Contact Justice delos Santos at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justdelossantos.