BERKELEY – Before Sunday’s game, California men’s basketball assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel tweeted that he wanted to send off this years seniors -- David Kravish, Christian Behrens and Dwight Tarwater -- on a high note, while dreaming of the future that this team could become – a future that, as it turns out, was sitting in the stands.
The team did not disappoint its coaching staff, as the seniors went out with a bang. Kravish posted another double-double – 13 points and 13 rebounds – to add to Jordan Mathews’s 17 points as the Bears escaped Haas Pavilion with a 73-56 win over the Oregon State Beavers.
“That was great,” said Kravish on the standing ovation he received. “It was one of those things you only get once in a lifetime. It still hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m not going to play another game here but Haas is a great place and great environment for college basketball. I’m going to miss it for sure.”
Despite a close first half characterized by back and forth runs, Cal’s dominant second half performance sealed a win after a 21-2 run with 12:53 remaining. After being down by one at halftime, the Bears (17-12, 7-9 in Pac-12) resoundingly won the second half 41-25, led by 11 points from Kravish.
“I think it was really important to make adjustments,” said Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. “They had a flow going, and we were stagnant offensively. We didn’t have a presence around the rim, so whether you’re scoring the ball or not, you need to have a body posting those guys up because those big guys are roaming freely. We just made the adjustment – making our bigs post up -- and adjust to a couple other things but then in transition [we] were able to attack.”
Despite being led by Kravish and Mathews, the Bears dominated with a full team performance. Tarwater and Behrens – despite it not being shown in the stat line – were invaluable in their defensive minutes during the small seven-man rotation that Martin chose to implement. Despite the size disadvantage, the Bears planned to attack inside quickly and often, giving the ball to Kravish at every opportunity, allowing for open looks for the other four starters – Tarwater, Bird, Mathews, and Wallace.
“The biggest thing we talked about was that we had to have a presence to post up” said Martin. “David is one of the best at flashing in the zone, but he’s also our best low post player. When David’s flashing, if Christian’s not in the game, then we have four perimeter guys, so no one’s flashing to the rim and getting the layup. It really helped when Christian was able to play at the rim. That was the biggest key.”
For the Beavers, guard Malcolm Duvivier gave Cal fits as he scored 18 points guarded by numerous Bears defenders. Three other scorers were in double figures for Oregon State, as Langston Morris-Walker, Gary Payton II, and Jamal Reid added 10,12 and 13 respectively. The 6-foot-7 junior Reid spent most of the game guarded by Tarwater or Sam Singer but failed to capitalize on the significant height advantages.
“That was great, especially the way we played. I think we played really well defensively and got stops when we needed to,” said Kravish. “I think we did a good job, especially in the second half, of not relinquishing control of the game.
Immediately, the Beavers’ size disadvantage was apparent, with the Bears starting with three consecutive threes in a row and grabbing 38 rebounds to the Beavers 25. Cal also shot an impressive 51% from the field, 41% from three, and 83% from the line, a drastic improvement on past performances.
“20-0 run? Wow, I don’t even know [what happened],” said Bird on the big second half for the Bears. “I guess we just turned it up a little bit. We were getting stops, we were scoring, and we were flowing. When guys on our team start making shots, we’re a really dangerous team, and I think that’s what happened out there.”
While many thought the Bears day could not get any better after a resounding win sending off the long tenured seniors in style, another boost to the program happened shortly after the game ended. Four-star recruit Davon Dillard committed his future to the team, giving Cal their first commit of the year.
Though the Bears have very little chance at an NCAA Tournament berth, a promising win coupled with the beginning of a recruiting class has many Cal fans exciting for the future of the Cuonzo Martin Era.
Cal Rides 21-2 Run to Win Over Beavers
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