I’ll bet you could use a little relaxation after another nerve-wracking overtime game even though Cal basketball ultimately triumphed over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 68-59. This was a messy game that featured a little bit of everything. The Bears did just enough for the win, which may or may not provide some comfort when you consider the upcoming schedule. To my restless mind, it resembled an album by Dr. John, who has been making music in Louisiana for decades. Naturally, that led me to cluster the game thematically into six Dr. John songs.
Don't point no finger at me like you do
Know three of them is pointing back at you
Even when the Bulldogs didn’t play lockdown defense, it seemed like the basket had a lid on it. I was actually a little surprised to see that Cal ended up 41% from the field. The Bears started 0-11 from three-point range and also missed numerous inside shots. Compounding the issue was their free throw disadvantage, which is only masked by the final stats due to repeated Tech fouls in overtime. Roger Moute a Bidias finished 1-7 from the floor, as did Stephen Domingo who got on the board via a dunk. One of Domingo’s shots hit an edge of the backboard, displaying his seeming lack of confidence. Those two weren’t alone, as Don Coleman managed to misfire on two shots from close range in the span of five seconds. As a result, the Bulldogs shot 27% for the game and still nearly pulled off the upset.
Ain't never was
Never gonna be
Another big shot like me
I'm the big shot
Laying in the cut for you to see
Charlie Moore has been a revelation, but no one is arguing that Ivan Rabb isn’t Cal’s best player. In the second half, Rabb ran into foul trouble and had trouble getting the ball even when he was on the floor. Nevertheless, he scored a career-high 25 with 13 rebounds on 9-12 shooting. The rest of the team made just a third of its field goals. Rabb also hit some clutch foul shots, going a strong 7-9 from the charity stripe overall. His flip pass to Kingsley Okoroh was a creative touch that led to an easy hoop. Cal fans should consider themselves very fortunate that Rabb made the decision to return to campus for a second season.
Right Place, Wrong Time
I been in the wrong place
But it must have been the right time
I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong song
The comments section had it right: this was a sloppy effort in several phases. Cal went a span of about 4 minutes without a field goal, while a run of Bulldog futility once hit 6 minutes. It didn’t necessarily lead to turnovers when Tech coach Eric Konkol went to the full-court press, but his schemes seemed to disrupt Cal’s offensive flow. Jabari Bird’s absence due to back spasms was noticeable as Tech basically dared Bear shooters to fire away. The choppy play was exemplified by a sequence early in the second half. Moore was handed an offensive foul for a push-off, followed by a traveling call against Erik McCree. After Moore brought the ball back up the court, he was unceremoniously stripped by Derric Jean.
Konkol himself became the center of attention when he was whistled for a sideline violation in overtime, but the referees did rescind an accompanying technical foul. The officials also reversed course on an OT out-of-bounds call, giving possession to Cal after watching a replay of McCree touching the ball last.
Ain't no age of innocence
Ladies and gents
It don't make no sense
Sam Singer scored just 4 points on the night, but he was involved in two of the biggest plays at the end of regulation. With 40 seconds left, he took a pass from Rabb and hit an elbow jumper to give Cal a 57-55 lead. After McCree’s layup knotted the game, Singer recovered a loose ball and dribbled to the free-throw line but left his attempt short. Singer was done scoring, although he came down with a couple of key rebounds in the overtime period.
I mentioned earlier that Moore committed two quick turnovers, and he ended up making 5 in total. On the other hand, his brilliance especially considering his freshman status was apparent as well. He had two early layups including one on a masterful finger roll that got the Bears off to an early 6-2 lead. Much later, Moore made a very deep three-pointer for Cal’s first of the night. His 19 points exceeded the output of any Louisiana Tech player. That won’t surprise anyone who saw his 38-point outburst against UC Irvine, which was the most similar game I can recall. However, Tech never held a sizable lead like the Anteaters did in the waning minutes of the second half on November 17.
Quitters Never Win
Maybe I'll lose
Maybe I'll win
If I lose I'll just start all over again
Stop me now if you can
The Louisiana Tech basketball account tweeted out a heartbreak emoji after the game, and despite my relief I understood the sentiment. Cal is missing Bird and Kameron Rooks, but this would have been a signature win for the Bulldogs in any scenario. When Jacobi Boykins sank a three-pointer to put the visitors ahead 53-52 with minutes to go, the possibility was tantalizingly close. While virtually no one shot well, I took notice of McCree’s 11 rebounds and center Joniah White’s 2 blocks off the bench. This was far from Cal’s best effort, but Qiydar Davis suffered a first-half leg injury and Tech battled hard nonetheless.
Such a Night
Such a night
It's such a night
Sweet confusion under the moonlight
Nobody wants to win ugly, but it beats losing in the same fashion. For instance, Grant Mullins shot 86% on free throws in his Columbia career but missed his only three against the Bulldogs. Despite his forgettable performance, he drilled a massive three-pointer in overtime to put the Bears up 61-59. Okoroh was an absolute bright spot, exceeding expectations by going 4-6 from the field and snatching 5 offensive rebounds for a total of 12 overall. He showed good vision in handing out 4 assists and kept up a jaw-dropping level of rim protection with 5 blocks. Don’t look now, but that’s already 18 for the season. Cal’s home streak sits at 24, but it was again given a stern test by a surprising opponent.