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Cal pulls through to beat St.Mary's

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Cal overcomes poor second half, Bears beat St.Mary's 63-59

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

JABARI!!! Oh so clutch. The Bears held on to beat the Gaels as Jabari Bird hit a three with 15.7 seconds left. Despite a very poor performance from Tyrone Wallace and once again a mediocre performance from Jaylen Brown, Cal prevailed with timely shooting and some clutch defensive stops. St. Mary's came in shooting 54% from the field and 45% from three. The Bears were able to get out to a lead but couldn't hold on to it as Evan Fitzner and Joe Rahon battled back.

Cal was finally able to secure a decent win after going 0-2 in Las Vegas. Hopefully this is a resume-building win and maybe we can build off of it going into big Virginia and Davidson games. There were some good moments from this game that made us look like the top 15 team we should be and then there were of course the times where we looked out of rhythm and struggling to get anything going.

Early on in the first half the Bears got out to an 8-6 lead highlighted by a Wallace three which was hard to find for the rest of the night. Following a Rabb dunk late in the first half Cal forced three straight turnovers, which resulted in 6 straight points and a fired up crowd. They eventually pushed the lead up to 11 by using a 17-5 run to end the half. Jordan Matthews had 13 at half while Ivan had 9 points and 7 boards. Jordan was putting on a clinic and was hinting at going off but the Gaels shut that down in the second half as Matthews didn't score again. St. Mary's leading scorer Emmett Naar was shutout in the first half having to deal with Matthews and co.

As the second half began it was very clear that the Gaels were not just going to sit down against a superior Pac-12 opponent. Evan Fitzner came out hitting three long balls eventually forcing Cal to take a timeout. At the 11:48 mark Naar hit his only bucket of the game although it was a big one giving St. Mary's their first lead. Despite that one three and a couple of nice passes the Bears kept Naar from influencing this game in anyway. The two teams went back and forth the rest of the game until Jabari was able to hit that clutch three. However, Tyrone Wallace fouled Rahon with 1.7 on the clock giving him a one and one. It didn't matter as he missed the first shot and Jaylen Brown got the board and sunk 2 free throws icing the win for the Bears.

Tyrone Wallace had one of his worst games in a Golden Bear uniform as he shot 16 percent from the field, yes a dismal 16 percent... Rabb was once again the key to success for the Bears. It seemed that every time he touched the ball on offense something good happened. Ivan was able to play 31 minutes, which was second to a season best (East Carolina). Keep in mind he's shooting 65.8% which is top 20 in the nation. Rabb finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, his fourth double double of the season.  The other 5 star freshmen was kept under control as his shooting ability was put to the test once again. Brown finished with seven points, as it was a struggle all night to find open space. Even when he could Brown wasn't able to hit. Despite a nice three and a layup to end the half Brown struggled throughout the game.

Cal played arguably there best half this season in the 1st. They shot 50% from the field and held St.Mary's to 46% although that doesn't signify how well the Bears played defense at points. Cal went on an 8-0 run to open the game up which was highlighted by a Rabb dunk and a Matthews steal and lay in. Randy Bennett was forced to take a timeout due to the 10,000 strong at Haas Pavilion. The 1st half made it seem like the Bears were going to walk away with it but St.Mary's came out firing in the second half.

The Gaels hit 6 threes in the second while the Bears shot under 40 percent and turned the ball over 5 times. Both teams didn't get to the foul much as the Gaels made one free throw and the Bears shot once again a poor 7-13. A key stat that wasn't highlighted for Cal was 10 blocks, 4 alone by Ivan Rabb.  Roger Moute-a Bidias did not see the floor tonight after quieting Josh Adams 2 games ago.

Reflections:

Although Cal got the W there were some very ugly looks for us. There were multiple instances where Tyrone would just dribble the ball around trying to find an open man but then couldn't find one he would force a shot and throw up a brick. On the other hand Jabari was quite spectacular in the second half scoring 8 of his 11 points and none bigger than the game winning three. He also had a monstrous put back jam that got that crowd going. It seems that if Cuonzo can get this team to play defense and hustle like the first half and not run a stagnant offense then we could do a lot of big things. I guess we'll see how good we are in the next couple of weeks having to play at Virginia and then against Davidson.

Despite Sam Singer picking up four fouls in limited minutes the Bears were able to stay out of foul trouble. A key to success is to keep the freshman out of foul trouble in order to keep them on the floor. The Bears will need to improve on perimeter D as well as ball screens but this is a long season.

Cal improves to 7-0 at home, and will face the 2-7 Coppin State Eagles next Saturday at 4pm in Haas. Once again a very big resume building win for the Bears. One final note is an excellent quote by Rabb: "It does not matter who makes the shot, as long as we win. We're all a family."