On Saturday night, Arizona stampeded Cal and cruised to a 71-50 victory. The Wildcats scored in bunches, shooting north of 50% from the field and 46% from downtown. Cal, on the other hand, struggled mightily on both ends, leading to the team’s worst scoring performance all season — Matt Bradley achieving 42% of the team’s points is not a recipe for success.
The name of the game was sloppiness. Through four minutes, there were only four total points scored between both teams. In fact, Cal had more turnovers (4) than field goal attempts (2) in that time frame. The Bears’ first bucket came five and a half minutes into the game when Bradley made a contested fadeaway jumper from the baseline.
This was a testament to the type of ferocious defense the Wildcats were playing in those opening seven minutes. Not only was the blue and gold turning the ball over constantly, they also shot a measly one-for-eight to start the game. Arizona’s elite rebounding reputation held true in this game, as it outrebounded the Bears 33-23. The Wildcats have yet to be outrebounded this season.
The score was 19-7 in favor of Arizona with just 9:42 remaining in the half, and Cal had as many turnovers as points. The Bears certainly weren’t shying away from the three-ball, as seven of their first 13 shots were from downtown. However, their accuracy was absent, as they made only one of those seven attempts.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the period, an offensive rebound by Dalen Terry led to a three-pointer for Ąžuolas Tubelis. This play gave the Wildcats a 16-point lead. It was also an accurate representation of how the game was going. Arizona was not only shooting efficiently, especially from downtown, but the team was also rebounding many of its misses.
At halftime, Cal was down 37-22. As a team, the Bears only shot 33% compared to the Wildcats’ blistering 53%. To make matters worse, Arizona had a three-to-nine turnover advantage. When you’re not making shots and being careless with the ball and being outrebounded, the odds are stacked against you.
Bradley was the only positive for the Bears. He did everything for the blue and gold, as he had 13 first-half points on 4-6 shooting from the field. Bradley’s perimeter jumper came back in this game as well, as he made three of his four attempts from downtown and accounted for all but one of the Bears’ made three-pointers in the opening period.
The second half had a much better start for Cal, as its offense kept up with Arizona’s. The Bears shot 75% through the first four and a half minutes, which was a complete reversal from the disaster that was the first period.
Two minutes into the period, Cal cut the lead down to 13, but then Arizona decimated any hope for a comeback with a 14-2 run over the next six minutes. Down 25 with only 11 minutes left, the game was all but over for the Bears.
Cal has now lost four straight games and eight of its last 10. The blue and gold will look to turn things around Thursday when they host archrival Stanford in the first of two consecutive matchups with the Cardinal.
Tom Aizenberg covers men’s basketball. Contact him at email@example.com.