We fought. We clawed. We tangled. We pushed. We gave it our all.
But sometimes a valiant effort is just not enough.
In David Kravish's final appearance at the PAC-12 Tourney, the Bears fell short of moving onto the semi-finals. A 73-51 loss, but the Bears did not give up and fought toe-to-toe with the Wildcats who changed to another gear after creating a 12-point lead in the second half. The game was closer than the final score depicts.
The first statistic that stands out is the fact we shot 33.3%. 33.3%. Against an Arizona team. Sounds about right against one of the best defensive teams in the country. The shock about this fact is that despite shooting this abysmally, we were only down 4 for most of the half. Granted we ended the half down 6, but that was due to a pretty crazy sequence of missed rebounds, blocked shots and made jumpers. The second stat that was abnormal was that we actually out rebounded the Wildcats, 21-19. This is what kept us in the game so early on. Getting 4 offensive rebounds, against this athletic front court, allowed our guards to penetrate or shoot open jumpers on secondary offensive possessions against an unsettled defense. If you were to take away the FG% and score statistically you would assume that the score was either equal or very similar. Both teams committed nearly the same number of TOs, Blocks, Steals, Assists. And although we out rebounded the Wildcats, it was only a +2 margin (compared to the +15 against WSU). A positive going into the second half was that David Kravish had not committed a single foul and had 6 rebounds to go along with a stellar defensive performance keeping Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley at bay. But with that, Arizona was sure to come out attacking through their talented front court and to tighten up their defense. And then......the second half happened.
Highway To The Danger Zone (for Cal). We had a need for speed. We didn't get it. Cal had games where the Bears went from bad to good, or good to bad. Arizona went from good to unstoppable over the halftime break. What a tale of two halves for the Arizona Wildcats, but the Bears stayed in the game for most of the second half, keeping the deficit fluctuating between 8 and 12. With Cal shooting 33% in the first half, most hoped that they would even out to around 40% to stay competitive, but overall only increased 1.1% to end the game. Cal shot 11-31 in the second half. Talk about consistency that we do not need. On a positive note, we had 6 offensive rebounds in the second half, but could not take advantage to close the gap. On many second chance opportunities we either gave up the ball or just missed open looks that we were making in the first half. There came a point in the second half where the Bears just could not buy a basket. Open looks weren't falling, passing became too stagnant, and dribble penetration was over compensated in order to break down Arizona's tight defense. That created bad attempts, blocked shots, steals and transition opportunities for the speed and athleticism of Arizona's forwards. But they were not the star for Arizona late in the game. Then T.J. McConnell happened. Arguably the PAC-12 POTY (snubbed), he managed the game and tempo to shut the door on any comeback attempt by the Bears. Talent took over the game late, and playing a team that knew how to deal the finishing blow and to execute it to perfection was ultimately our downfall. Our team, however did not quit. We showed fight. Dwight Tarwater got into it early with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. David Kravish got into late with Brandon Ashley when they both went to ground all tied up. Tyrone Wallace tried to bring us back single handedly but there is only so much our star PG can do against a team that was in sync on both defense and offense.
To recap the game as a whole, we did everything the pundits told us to do. We prayed for a miracle. We got close to matching Arizona's rebounding. We forced some TOs and limited our TOs. Kravish wasn't in foul trouble. We made some 3s. But it came down to just falling short... We got more Offensive rebounds but didn't finish. We forced TOs but they forced more. We limited our TOs but they gave up less. Kravish wasn't in foul trouble but he couldn't score. We made 3s but didn't make enough. All our players did a great job. Our intensity and fight built up through the season to this point, and was the best all season. But sometimes the physical and talent aspect plus the other team's drive for greatness is just too much to overcome. But If the Bears build on this toughness for next season, and some recruits fall our way, the sky is the limit for a promising first season under Coach Cuonzo Martin and Co.