David Kravish

Despite poor shooting night from Tyrone Wallace, Cal downs No. 21 Washington

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Entering halftime, Tyrone Wallace was 2-of-13 from the field, as a team Cal was shooting 32 percent while its defense allowed No. 21 Washington to convert of 54 percent of its attempts. Given all that, the Golden Bears should have considered themselves lucky to only trail by five.

In the second half, the shots still didn’t fall for Wallace, though, they didn’t have to. Jordan Mathews and David Kravish carried the load offensive, combining for 52 points — 34 of which came after halftime — as Cal kicked off Pac-12 play with an 81-75 win over the ranked Huskies.

Mathews was one-point shy of matching his career-high of 32 points. Kravish set his own career best with 21. Although Wallace was his season-worst 4-for-20 from the field, he still managed to finish with 19 points, doing the bulk of his damage from the line, hitting 10 free throws with under three minutes to play.

Nigel Williams-Goss had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assist for the Huskies, followed by Robert Upshaw with 16 points and eight boards.

The Golden Bears shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, and for the night only coughed up the ball four times. The Huskies committed 13 turnovers, which Cal took advantage, turning those miscues into 15 points. In Washington’s upset loss to Stony Brook at home on Sunday, the Seawolves created 19 points off 12 turnovers to help erase a double-digit deficit.

Another area where Cal took advantage of was on the glass. Despite being outrebounded 33-21, the Golden Bears turned eight offensive rebounds in 13 second-chance boards.

If you’re Cuonzo Martin, you have to feel encouraged after your first Pac-12 game. Wallace had a terrible night shooting the ball, but still contributed offensively, Cal’s second-best scorer, Jabari Bird, is still sidelined and the Golden Bears were still able to get a win over a ranked opponent.

Washington, however, has a short turnaround before another challenging, conference road game. The Huskies are at Stanford on Sunday night.

California takes a step forward in comfortable win over No. 23 Syracuse

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The Cuonzo Martin era at California got off to a good start, with the Golden Bears picking up comfortable victories over Alcorn State and Kennesaw State. But with all due respect to those two teams, the Golden Bears’ matchup with No. 23 Syracuse in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic in New York was going to reveal a lot more about Cal than either of those prelims have.

Thanks to a stretch late in the first half in which they knocked down four three-pointers, the Golden Bears took control of a game they would eventually win by the final score of 73-59. What’s helped Martin thus far is the amount of talent that remained in Berkeley following the retirement of Mike Montgomery, and against the Orange those players stepped forward to turn a competitive game into a comfortable victory.

The Golden Bears were able to find gaps in the Syracuse zone, shooting 8-for-19 from three and 50 percent from inside of the arc. And of their 26 made field goals 20 were assisted, with reserve guard Sam Singer accounting for eight of the assists. Cal didn’t settle for long jumpers, which is something many teams do when facing Syracuse, and the strategy paid off.

Jabari Bird was responsible for two of the four three-pointers during that decisive first half run, and Jordan Mathews scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half. Add in senior forward David Kravish, who accounted for 12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, and junior point guard Tyrone Wallace (ten points, five assists), and four of Cal’s five starters finished the game in double figures.

With Wallace being a junior and both Bird and Mathews being sophomores, they can be valuable pieces for Martin not only this season but in the future as well. Cal won’t be the deepest of teams, especially in the front court as a result of the knee injury suffered by Kameron Rooks, but they’ve still got plenty of skill.

Syracuse has a host of issues to address, and Thursday’s result served as a reminder of how much production (and talent) they lost from last year’s team. But that shouldn’t take away from what California accomplished. In front of a pro-Syracuse crowd and against Jim Boeheim’s famed 2-3 zone, Cuonzo Martin’s Golden Bears took an important step forward in their development as a team.

California falls to Stanford, failing to build on Saturday’s big win

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Having lost three straight games entering Saturday’s home game against No. 1 Arizona, California had an opportunity to not only grab a resume-building victory but also right the ship ahead of the stretch run. And the Golden Bears did just that, with Justin Cobbs’ fadeaway with nine tenths of a second remaining giving Cal the 60-58 victory. On Wednesday night, with rival Stanford in Berkeley, Cal had a chance to keep the momentum rolling while temporarily moving into sole possession of second place in the Pac-12.

The Golden Bears failed to take advantage of the opportunity however, coming out lethargic against Stanford and the Cardinal were willing to grab control of the action. The end result: an 80-69 Stanford victory, with Dwight Powell (22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists) playing well defensively against a Cal front court that was coming off of an very good night against Arizona.

Chasson Randle added 19 points and Anthony Brown 16, with Josh Huestis tallying nine points, five rebounds and four steals for the visiting Cardinal. Outside of a loss at Oregon State (which beat UCLA on Sunday) Johnny Dawkins’ team doesn’t have any glaring defeats on its resume, which could set them up for a run at the first NCAA tournament berth of Dawkins’ tenure in Palo Alto.

As for Cal David Kravish finished Wednesday’s game with 12 points and six rebounds, but Richard Solomon (1-for-7 FG) accounted for just six points and nine rebounds with Powell being a big reason why. To be fair Solomon wasn’t alone in his struggles, as Bears other than Kravish, Cobbs and Wallace (57 total points) combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field. Foul shooting was also an issue, with Cal making just 12 of its 21 attempts and being outscored by 16 points (Stanford made 28 of its’ 35 attempts) on the night.

Cal scored 34 points in the paint and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, but the free throw disparity and the fact that Stanford was able to score 21 points off of 13 Golden Bear turnovers resulted in a fourth defeat in the last five games. The problem for much of the current stretch has been consistency, especially when it comes to shot selection. It’s February and there are still times in which players struggle with understanding the difference between being aggressive and forcing things that aren’t there.

After beating an Arizona team that will be without Brandon Ashley for the remainder of the season, Cal looked to be headed in the right direction with a chance of climbing back into the Pac-12 title race should the Wildcats slip up. But in order to do that the Golden Bears need to take care of business at home, something that didn’t happen against Stanford.