Perhaps in response to words from the coach, Cal's players eventually picked up their intensity and pounded Long Beach State in the opening round of the Golden Bear Classic at Haas Pavilion by a score of 102-65 before a crowd of 7,816. The win boosted the Golden Bears to an 8-2 record for the season.
Cal missed their first ten shots, six of them from outside the arc and Long Beach State settled into a 2-3 zone while the home team was ice cold. The 49ers led 9-2 five minutes into the game - but then Jerome Randle scored on a transition lay-up with 12:46 left in the half, and Cal began to stabilize.
Randle's bucket proved to be the start of a 9-0 Cal run that was capped by Jamal Boykin's first three-point basket for Cal - it may be the first of many.
If just for the moment, the visitors countered with a Donovan Morris 3 from the top of the key - to make it 12-11 Long Beach, but then Cal went off on a 25-1 burst.
At the half, Cal led 38-15 and was a shooting a modest shooting 46% from the field, though with 10 assists against only 4 turnovers. Cal held the 49ers to a feeble 24% (2-14) shooting from the field.
At the half, Long Beach had more turnovers (13) than field goals (6). After the rocky first few minutes, the Bears' man defense completely shut down the visitors. Randle, perhaps responding to the quick hook after an early turnover, responded with 14 first half points. Boykin added 7 with 4 rebounds in an impressive 10-minute stint.
Cal led at the midway mark despite a sub-par half from Ryan Anderson. Picking up two fouls, Anderson had played only 9 minutes and garnered just 1 point and 1 rebound.
Cal opened the second half by torching the 49ers' zone, and the Bears' lead ballooned to 44 points. When all was said and done, seven different Bears had hit from outside the arc for a school record 16 treys. The home team was a red-hot 12-19 (63%) from distance after the intermission.
DeVon Hardin From Distance
For the game, Cal registered 30 assists on their 38 buckets (just two assists short of the school record) and did an excellent job moving the ball. The team had just 9 turnovers as six players hit double figures, Randle leading the way with 20.
Said Braun, "It was one of (Randle's) stronger games for us. He didn't try to do too much. He set the tone defensively."
Boykin made a major contribution off the bench with 18 points and 10 rebounds, 5 of them on the offensive board in just 19 minutes. The transfer from Duke impressed his coach: "His energy was fantastic tonight."
Braun experimented with several different combinations of three big guys: Hardin, Anderson and Boykin played together, as did Anderson, Kamp and Boykin.
Referring to the big lineup, Braun said, "It was a good lineup for us. I thought they did a decent job defensively." It's probably something we will see again.
Cal will now meet an interesting North Dakota State team (7-5) in the final Saturday night at 7:30 pm. The Bison team features two outstanding players, 5-11 junior guard Ben Woodside and 6-6 junior forward Brett Winkelman.
In the Bison 68-60 win over Bucknell in the first game Friday, Woodside contributed a solid performance with 31 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals - he will come into the final game against Cal on Saturday averaging 23.7 ppg. Said Braun, "He's one of the best players we will play against."
Winkleman, Woodside's partner inside, also had an impressive game Friday night, tallying 21 points and 14 rebounds in the Bison win.
North Dakota State hit 51% of their shots, and appeared to be a well-coached team. Bucknell worked to control the tempo, but Woodside controlled the game. The Bison clearly like to play at a fast tempo, but on Friday they also demonstrated the ability to be effective in a possession game as well. Look for an interesting game against the Bears.Game Notes
- Cal shot 56% for the game.
- Cal had nine steals and forced 20 turnovers.
- Nikola Knezevic had six assists.
- Jerome Randle left the game with 10 minutes left with tightness in his hamstrings, but later said he was fine.
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