Bears battle but Buffaloes buffalo, 71-65

Josh Kahen/Staff

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History repeats itself. As cliche as it sounds, that’s the truth. Once again, the Bears played solid defense, holding the No. 24 Buffaloes to just 71 points — but the offense came up short as Cal scored just 65 of its own. And once again, the Bears lost on the road and are now 0-9 away from home.

Cal looked sloppy on offense early, with guard Paris Austin dribbling out of bounds one second and guard Kareem South throwing the ball straight to Colorado the next. But when the blue and gold took care of the ball, shots were falling. Halfway through the first period, the Bears had managed only 15 points, a low scoring total, but nothing unusual for this team.

Right after that, however, guard Matt Bradley took the ball in strong with a spin move and nice off-hand layup. Forward Grant Anticevich followed the next possession with a three — and just when it seemed that the Bears were gaining momentum, they went scoreless for about three minutes.

Austin then hit two tough layups with just a few minutes left in the first half and the Bears were gaining momentum on offense. Cal made four of its last five shots going into the half, and went into halftime with things tied at 28.

For the Bears, taking care of the ball was an issue in the first half. The team was shooting 63.2% from the court in the first half, but had eight turnovers. The Buffaloes, on the other hand, were shooting a far worse 39.3% from the field and 15.2% from three. Fortunately for the Buffs, they turned the ball over three times. They also managed nine offensive rebounds to Cal’s one. For reference, the Bears give up an average of 9.38 offensive boards per game to opponents this season. Colorado met that total in the first half.

Cal also shot a horrid 0-3 from the free-throw line and had nine less field goal attempts than the Buffaloes in the opening half. The Bears clearly had work to do in the second period, and were lucky to still be in the game at all, let alone with a tie score.

An alley-oop with more than 15 minutes left to guard D’Shawn Schwartz had the Colorado crowd roaring, but forward Andre Kelly quickly sucked some of the energy back out of the gym with a dunk on the other end. Schwartz answered back by draining a three and the Buffaloes fans continued to grow even louder. But Kelly was there again with another dunk to silence the home crowd, forcing a Colorado timeout with just under 15 minutes to go, Buffaloes leading 39-35.

Cal kept things close for the entire game, even gaining a lead late in the second half before Colorado went on a run to regain the advantage. With 2:54 left to play, junior McKinley Wright IV hit a long-range bomb to extend the Buff’s lead to six, and the Bears’ inability to manage the ball finally caught up with them. Freshman D.J. Thorpe turned the ball over on Cal’s next possession and the blue and gold never recovered. The Bears still had a shot, trailing by just four with 50 seconds left, but the Buffaloes drained their free throws late, ultimately sealing the game.

Colorado struggled from the three-point line all game, however, finishing just 7-24 from behind the arc. Cal was far more efficient from the three-point line, matching the Buffs’ makes on nearly half the attempts. It was yet another outstanding defensive showing from the Bears, resulting in a close battle, but another unfortunate road loss.

Buffaloes juniors Tyler Bey and Wright IV led the way offensively, accounting for more than half of Colorado’s points with 21 and 17 points, respectively. For Cal, Bradley tallied in 17 and Kelly had another solid outing with 12 points and seven boards.

The Bears are still looking for their first win away from home, and their next opportunity to do so will be in Utah on Saturday.

Jack Whaley covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @_jackdouglas_.