For the second time in three games down in Australia, California freshman Ivan Rabb tallied his second double-double, pouring in 15 points and pulling down 12 rebounds as the Bears ground out a back-and-forth affair against the Australian Center of Excellence in Canberra, coming away with a 94-86 win.
“We got off to a slow start due to the way they were playing,” said head coach Cuonzo Martin. “They were shooting the ball and playing well. But we settled down, especially in the second and third quarters and played some good basketball.”
Rabb was one of five Bears in double figures, with senior point guard Tyrone Wallace scoring 17, freshman Jaylen Brown 16, Jabari Bird a team-high 19 and Jordan Mathews 10.
Over the first 5:11, Brown scored six points, with four coming from his 4-for-4 stretch at the free throw line, adding a block and two assists, but ACoE went on a 14-7 run, broken only by a three by sophomore point guard Brandon Chauca.
Brown finished the day 5-for-11 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the charity stripe, scoring 16 points, dishing out three assists and swiping three steals.
At the end of the first quarter, Cal trailed, 31-29, but the Bears went on an 8-0 run to start the second stanza, starting with two free throw makes by Mathews and a coast-to-coast bucket by Brown.
“I thought we played well. This is the best we played since we’ve been on this trip because we are a lot more settled now,” Martin said. “I thought we did a tremendous job defending, especially in the second and third quarters. Guys were rotating well and were very aggressive, playing defense without fouling and doing a great job rebounding the basketball against a good team. It was a great test for our guys.”
20 seconds after his swipe and score, Brown was fouled, and made one of two, followed by a Wallace two off of a Bird miss to make it 36-31. Rabb then pulled down a board off of a missed Brown three and put it back to give the Bears a 38-31 lead.
ACoE broke the spell with one of two makes from Jayden Hodgson off of a Sam Singer foul, but Rabb responded with another put-back on a Wallace miss to get the lead back to eight, putting Cal up, 40-32.
Rabb added another put-back to make it 49-39 with 4:17 to go in the second, and at the half, the Bears held a 66-45 lead, having outscored ACoE 18-10 in the second quarter.
Through the first half, Cal was 14-for-17 from the line, with Brown tallying 14 points, Bird 12 and Wallace 11. Rabb nearly had a double-double in the first half alone, with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Bird finished with a team-high 19 points, pulling down five rebounds and dishing out two assists in 22:48 on the floor.
To start the third quarter, Wallace, Bird, Brown, Kingsley Okoroh and Rabb hit the floor, and went on an 8-2 run. With 7:07 left, Okoroh dished to Bird underneath for a pair, putting Cal up 74-48 to cap a 14-5 run.
Okoroh only spent 5:23 on the floor, but pulled down three rebounds and added an assist and a block, though he was limited with three fouls.
With 1:36 to go in the third, the Bears were up 82-60, with two free throws by Mathews, and another pair of free throw makes by Wallace – who went 4-for-4 from the line and 6-of-9 from the floor for 17 points on the night – helped Cal to an 85-60 lead to end the penultimate quarter.
ACoE made a game of it in the fourth, going on an 18-4 run, with a three-pointer by Hodgson reeling the Bears to within eight with 1:55 left, but Cal held serve over the final two minutes to put away its third straight win on the trip.
The Bears next face the Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Center in Wollongong at 11 PM Pacific on Thursday (6 PM local time on Friday) in their final game on the trip.
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The Hawks were 6-22 last season in the Australia-NBL – Australia’s top league – finishing in eighth place. The previous two seasons, the Hawks were league semifinalists, finishing fourth in 2013-14 and third in 2012-13. The Hawks have reached the league finals three times in the past 15 seasons, winning the league title in 2000-01.