Utes brush Bears off in 60-45 win

Lisi Ludwig/Staff

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Earlier in the season, The Daily Californian wrote that Haas Pavilion might have some magic that gives Cal men’s basketball some special powers, and the Bears may just be cursed when they leave Berkeley. It certainly looked that way tonight, as Utah defeated Cal 60-45 after a sloppy game from the blue and gold.

The Utes started off hot, and despite two early buckets from Matt Bradley and Kuany Kuany, went on a 12-2 run to go up 17-6. The blue and gold reverted to old habits as they threw up rushed jump shots in the early minutes of the game. The Bears started 3-11 from the field and gave up several sloppy turnovers.

Never to be deterred, the blue and gold created an 8-0 run for themselves and brought the game within one possession. After Utah and Cal traded runs, both teams attacked the rim and drew fouls to slow down the game.

For the rest of the half, the Utes — propelled by a pair of threes from Jaxon Brenchley —  slowly built a lead over the Bears and closed out of the half leading 34-22. Cal only shot 9-25 from the field, resulting in only 22 points in a 20-minute half. It didn’t help that Bradley was having a cold start, shooting 2-5 overall and 0-2 from three. The team as a whole was struggling to maintain possession, as Utah picked their pockets with six steals in the first period.

The second half began with the Utes holding the largest lead of the game thus far, and neither team looked too eager to change that. It took nearly three minutes, three turnovers, and four missed shots before Grant Anticevich scored the first basket of the second half.

Despite a follow-up layup form Bradley, the Bears continued to miss shots and turn the ball over repeatedly. Fortunately for them, Utah was playing equally poorly and made only three shots in the first nine minutes of the second period. Bradley hit his first three of the game after more than 29 minutes, and Cal was facing a manageable single-digit deficit as they trailed 31-40.

But it was all for naught, as the Utes’ leading scorer Timmy Allen drained two quick baskets to put the game out of reach for the Bears. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the game and Allen scored 14 points over the last 10 minutes. He finished with 21 points on 8-16 shooting and was the only Ute with double-digit scoring.

Cal, which relies heavily on Bradley for its offense, was having an inefficient night from the field. The 6’4” guard averages 17 points per game and was held to 13 points on 5-13 shooting and only 1-5 from three. If the Bears were going to be successful, however, Bradley needed the support of a few of his teammates, but the second-highest scorer of the game was Andre Kelly with six. The traditionally strong presences of Anticevich, Paris Austin and Kareem South were completely absent this game.

As a whole, Cal ended the game on a 2-10 shooting slump and didn’t make a field goal in the last 5:41. The Bears shot only 32% from the field and gave up 22 points off of turnovers. This was a difficult game for the team all around.

It’s been a few weeks since the blue and gold have had an outright poor performance. The last four games were all competitive and even if it was only for a moment, there was a time in each game when it looked like Cal might walk away with a win. On Saturday, however, Utah held the advantage the entire 40 minutes.

The Bears drop to 4-6 in conference and 0-10 away from home this season. As they look toward hosting the Arizona schools next week, the Bears will be asking themselves if they can recover from their winless road trip and find a way to jumpstart their offense.

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