Having started slow in the past several games, Cal decided to not to switch things up and stayed true to form.
With Jorge unable to stay in front of their waterbug point guard, South Florida got themselves three easy baskets and one of those deep pull-up step-backs that only goes in against us. On the other hand, the guys missed a variety of contested shots.
Perhaps lulled into somnambulance by South Florida's methodical half-court sets, the Bears went 0 for 4 from the field and quickly slowly found themselves down 8-0.
Just as the announcers were asking, "who is going to get things going for the Golden Bears?" Harper Kamp took it on the low block, spun, and had the strength to convert the turnaround plus the foul.
The flicker of life was short-lived as the Bulls countered with a 7-0 run featuring a banked in three plus four points from their true frosh point. Down 15-3 at the thirteen minute mark, Monty was forced to call an early timeout.
He put the ball in Harper's hands and the reliable senior responded with four quick points. Unfortunately, the Bears weren't able to get stops on the defensive end as the Bulls exceeded their lackluster offensive billing by raining in jumpers from all over the court. Even a sweet lefty hook from the Thurminator wasn't enough as South Florida maintained a 24-13 advantage with eight minutes to play.
When Monty tried to go to the bench for an infusion of energy, all he got was an offense that went from bad to worse and a defense that became increasingly more matador. South Florida exploited Cal's mistakes with an 14-0 run to extend the lead to 36-13 at the half.
It was about as an ugly a half of basketball that I've seen from any Cal team, much less a Monty-coached squad. Although we were expected to struggle against their defense, it was a complete surprise how little resistance we provided to their previously inefficient offense. Sadly enough, it started with Jorge and Cobbs' inability to contain their point guard, Collins. With Collins getting into the lane at will, he either dropped in floaters or set guys up for layups. This opened things up for their three point shooters and gave them the confidence to go bombs away.
Follow the faceplant formula during our end of the year slump, it was sluggish offensive hamstrung by turnover issues and compounded by breakdowns on defense. Although the effort was there, many of Cal's issues were due to guys pressing and trying to do too much. As the Bears lost patience with the offense, they forced passes and settled for bad shots.
As tempting as it was to finish this write-up with "the second half was more of the same," veteran Cal fan that I am, I had to be absolutely certain that this game really was mind-blowing, soul-wrenching, and gut-punchingly awful right to the final buzzer.
Without going into the gory details, it was. The lead flirted with 30 before garbage time scoring made it appear much more respectable than it really was. When the highlights of the second half essentially amount to Emerson Murray and Bak Bak getting extended run, you know it just wasn't your night. In a clever bit of stategery, South Florida apparently artificially deflated their offensive stats all year long just to catch us unaware.
Harper more than held his own, but scoring from the other starters was much too little and considerably too late.
Without dwelling excessively on all the negatives, which very well might take several more weeks' worth of posts as well as extensive therapy, let's just say that it's a shame Harper and Jorge ended their careers as Golden Bears with a game like this.
I'm still appreciative of the effort put forth by our coaches and players this year. Congratulations to Jorge and Harper for their many accomplishments. Thank you for great careers, gentlemen. You represent the university well and we wish you the best.