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Hot shooting and fouls were the story of the game. The Bears made 10 three-pointers and had twice as many foul shots as the Wildcats. Cal shot 21-30 from the line, including making their last 12 foul shots, six in the final minute.
Foul trouble plagued the Cats. Channing Frye and Hassan Adams had to sit for long stretches of the second half with four fouls. Frye fouled out with 4:47 to play, while Adams had to play a bit tentative on the defensive end.
For the Wildcats, it was a similar script as the Washington loss. They were solid on offense, shooting 50 percent, but the perimeter defense, especially in the first half, was atrocious.
"Right now we are not a good defensive team," Lute Olson said on KNST radio. "We've been so good on that end of the court in the past, but not this year. We should be, we're young, but we should be better on that end of the court."
The Bears were unbelievable from behind the arc. They hit seven threes in the first half and then opened up with two quick Amit Tamir three-pointers that put the Cats behind the eight ball.
"You can't give Tamir and (Richard) Midgley looks from three," Olson said.
Tamir was 5-8 from behind the arc and finished with 21 points. Midgley was 4-6 for 16 points.
Only one other Bear made a three-pointer.
The Cats had a chance to come from behind in the final minutes. Trailing 81-75, Salim Stoudamire had a lay-in and the Cats then stole the ball in the backcourt. Stoudamire wound up with the loose ball and was intentionally fouled going for the bucket. Stoudamire missed the first free throw, then made the second, but the Cats could not convert on the ensuing possession and the Bears proceeded to make their foul shots.
"We had a lot of opportunities but we didn't convert," Olson said.
Stoudamire scored five points in the game's final two minutes, but managed just seven for the game.
Andre Iguodala had one of the better offensive performances of his career. He scored a career-high 25 points.
The Bears led 9-0, holding the Cats scoreless for the first 2:55. The Bears scored on their first four possessions and it was a portent of things to come. The Bears shot just a hair under 60 percent for the half, including the seven three-pointers. Despite the hot shooting, the Bears led by just five (51-46) at the half.
The Cats found themselves down by as many as 10 in the beginning stages of the second half. Tamir nailed back-to-back threes and Leon Powe's three-point play put the Bears up 60-50. Frye was trying to pace the Cats with two straight buckets, but things looked bleak when the big man picked up two quick fouls and had to sit down with his fourth foul.
Powe was a monster down low, especially with the Cats in foul trouble. He finished with 21, including four power dunks.
With Frye on the bench, the Cats responded in positive fashion. They rattled off a 9-0 run and scored 13-of–16 shots while Cal missed 11 straight. After a Mustafa Shakur jumper the Cats were within two, 67-65.
The Cats could not get any closer. They cut it to two on three other occasions, but the Bears used a quick six-point spurt to give them enough of a cushion that the Cats could not take the lead.