BERKELEY -- California had just one field goal in the first nine minutes against regular-season WAC champion Cal State-Bakersfield. They had three turnovers in the first 55 seconds -- two by freshman point guard Charlie Moore. The Bears trailed by 25 at the half, and though they closed the gap to as small as six with 1.1 seconds to go in the game, Cal simply did not have the bullets to mount a comeback.
Without their top two scorers -- Jabari Bird (concussion) and Ivan Rabb (foot) -- the Bears had to rely on sophomore Dontae Coleman for their firepower. The at-times wild, frenetic JuCo transfer scored a career-high 28 points, including 23 in the second half, and 12 in the final five minutes of regulation, but it wasn't enough to overcome a lackluster first half by the Bears, who lost their first-round NIT match-up 73-66.
The loss looked and felt all too familiar: An injury to a key senior several days prior to a high-seed postseason appearance, another injury less than 24 hours before tip, and coaching drama (in this case, the possibility that head coach Cuonzo Martin has one foot out the door, headed to Illinois or Missouri). Last season, it was the firing of assistant Yann Hufnagel, a Tyrone Wallace broken hand before the flight to Spokane, Wash., and finally back spasms felling Bird 10 minutes before the tipoff of Cal's NCAA Tournament game against Hawaii that sunk the Bears.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1762947-breaking-ivan-rabb... This season, it was the combination of Martin's repeated cagey answers in regards to his future, combined with the injuries to Bird and Rabb. Bird's concussion was suffered Friday, 65 seconds into a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal loss to Oregon, and he was expected not to play, but Rabb was ruled out one hour before game time with a foot injury. A Cal spokesman would not specify which foot, or when the injury occurred, as the Bears had an off day on Monday. Bird and Rabb combined to score 41.6% of the Bears' points on the season.
"Everybody's different, every year is different; there isn't a script with how to deal with things off the court," Martin said.
Rabb's plantar fasciitis flared up Tuesday morning, and it was decided at 11 or 12 today that he would not play.
Without that pair, Cal shot 16.7% from the field in the first half -- making just four shots. Bakersfield, for comparison's sake, had 12 assists in the first half, shooting 16-of-32 from the field.
"They had nothing to do with the effort and the energy the first 10, 15 minutes," Martin said. The Bears were down 8-0 after four minutes.
With 8:30 left before the break, and Bakersfield leading 25-12, the California public address announcer's voice cut out, and he apologized to the sparse crowd of 1,778, as he tried to inform them that Shon Briggs was headed to the free throw line. It was that kind of night. Four Roadrunners scored in double figures, and outside of Coleman, only Grant Mullins reached that barrier, scoring 10 on 2-of-4 shooting, and 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Against a team that was No. 8 in the nation in personal fouls, coming in, Cal couldn't capitalize on 28 infractions by the Bakersfield, going 23-for-37 at the free throw line.
The Roadrunners (23-9) led 44-19 at the half, in Cal's second-worst first-half performance of the season (18 points against Princeton). The Bears had more turnovers (9) than made shots, and turned in the worst shooting half since at least the 2013-14 season (records before that were not available).
"Tonight was one of those night where, we haven't been scoring the ball well, if you followed us the last five or six games, and in the first half, we scored it as well as we've scored all season," said Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes. "Give them credit: They fought back ... I talk to coach Martin a lot, and I felt for him tonight. He didn't have his two best guys on the court."
Dedrick Basile -- who averaged 10.5 points this season for the Roadrunners -- rained down three-pointers, going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, and surpassing his season average just 8:32 into the game. He finished with a team-high 18 points. Basile wasn't only a threat from three-point land. He assisted on a three by super-sub Damiyne Durham to stretch the lead to 16, firing a leading pass to Durham cutting across the baseline for a three-pointer with 6:35 to go in the first. A minute later, Durham hit another triple to stretch the margin to 19. After a bunny make by Roman Davis, Durham sank another triple, stretching the lead to 38-18 with 3:58 to go in the first half.
"I just believe that our team wanted this so bad, so we listened to coach Barnes, went out there, executed the plays, and my teammates were just finding me," Basile said. "Everybody just found the hot hand."
Durham came off the bench -- as he has in all 31 of the Roadrunners games this season -- and hit 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, echoing several performances early this season -- 6-of-10 from three in the season opener, 8-of-19 against UC Santa Barbara, 7-of-13 against Portland State and 4-of-10 against Chicago State. Durham finished 4-of-12 from the floor for 13 points.
"Dedrick and Damiyne hit some shots, which gave us some confidence, and gave us a cushion, so we could play freer than if the game were closer," Barnes said.
Even when the Bears made a 10-3 run to start the second half, they couldn't get out of their own way. After a long rebound by Coleman turned into a lazy mid-court turnover to senior guard Justin Pride, who had plenty of time and room to flick a reverse lay-up in off the glass to make it 49-29.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1763007-cal-nit-video-with...A tip-in by Cole Welle off of a Coleman miss with 12:17 to go cut the lead to 18, but with 8:30 left, Welle missed two lay-ups inside two feet, much as Kingsley Okoroh missed three under the basket with 15 minutes to go in the first half. Welle got the Bears to within 17 with a right-handed hook over his left shoulder with 7:21 to go, and a three from the right corner by Coleman with 6:39 to go cut the lead to 15.
Welle again proved key during a 5-0 run, finding senior Roger Moute a Bidias on the right wing for a three, and then picking off a pass in the post and pushing the ball up for a streaking Coleman for a lay-in to cut the lead to 13, with 4:47 to go. Coleman hit a pair of free throws with under four minutes left to cut the lead to 12. A Welle lay-in cut the lead to 10, and then a Mullins three from the top of the arc, as he drifted left off the bounce, brought the Bears to within eight.
Cal shot 14-for-30 in the second half, with Coleman going 6-of-11 from the floor, and 10-of-14 from the free throw line. Coleman finished 7-of-19 from the field, 1-of-5 from three-point land and 11-of-16 at the free throw line. He had four rebounds, while Welle led the Bears with seven boards. Senior Sam Singer had six rebounds.
Moore went 0-for-5, with three turnovers, Martin chalked that up to Bakersfield having seen the Bears upwards of 15 times on game tape.
"They pressured him, got into him, and their game plan, without Ivan and Jabari, was to now allow Grant to be a factor, and to force Charlie to go east-west with the ball," Martin said.