Cal struggles in 54-50 win over Prairie View A&M

Josh Kahen/Staff

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The California marching band filled less than half its usual space in Haas Pavilion on Monday, but it looked like it was Cal men’s basketball that was missing half its roster — not the band.

Cal scraped past Prairie View A&M 54-50 to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2015, however, the win may place some doubts in the minds of fans.

“I thought they played more determined basketball today than we did,” said Cal head coach Mark Fox. “I thought we were poorly coached today, I thought we played poorly, and two wrongs make a wrong. We were fortunate to escape with a win, but we have to play better basketball than we played today.”

The whole game it seemed like both teams adopted the strategy of just chucking up as many shots as possible, and praying those went in. At halftime, the Panthers had yet to hit a three-pointer and the Bears had 14 turnovers — more than they had against Pepperdine or UNLV. The score was only 35-26 when the halftime buzzer sounded, with Cal somehow managing to hold a lead.

“Things weren’t going our way. A lot of careless plays. We have to step it up,” said sophomore guard Matt Bradley. “We fought it out and ended up winning. I’m proud about that”

Although the turnovers were high for the Bears and they only shot 46% from the field, they had scored 35 at the half before against Pepperdine and won that game. The Bears have also been having stronger second half performances this season and had a nine-point lead.

Shockingly, Cal turned out to be worse in the second half — much worse.

When Ellis Chancellor made Prairie View A&M’s first three-pointer nine minutes into the second half, it was part of a 10-0 run that ended with a five-point lead for the Panthers.

“You have to do more things than just shoot jumpers to win. I felt like that was our mentality offensively and that’s not how you win,” Fox said. “Hopefully, some days you can win because you make jump shots, but that’s not the only thing that matters in the game — and I felt like we had a little bit of an immature approach offensively and our decisions with the basketball. We were not very good today.”

The Bears ended the half with only 19 points, and they ended the game with more turnovers than field goals made. Prairie View A&M is not a team that Cal should have been struggling with, and this performance is a kink that needs to be worked out if the team hopes to be competitive for Pac-12 play.

Trilok Reddy covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].