Haas Pavilion was ignited with the throngs of fans who showed up before tipoff for California’s home opener against the Pepperdine Waves, and they were in for a show. New freshman Joel Brown got his first start of the season, having replaced Paris Austin in the Bears’ opening lineup, and was the first scorer of tonight’s game. Matt Bradley helped the Bears out early, by drawing and capitalizing off a couple of fouls and breaking a 3.5 minute Bears scoring drought with a tying three-pointer. The Bears and the Waves remained close for much of the first half, but Cal’s 9-0 scoring run thanks in part to Austin, Jacobi Gordon, and Andre Kelley helped to overcome a deficit and usher in a sparing lead that allowed the Bears to stay afloat through some poor defensive efforts. Bradley committed a flagrant foul against Pepperdine’s Skylar Chavez with 6 minutes to play; the end of the half saw Kareem South lead the Bears in scoring with 9 points, Grant Anticevich with 6 rebounds, and Pepperdine with a 37-35 lead.
The Bears continued to trail the Waves in the opening minutes of the half until some dexterous ball-handling by Kelly and a three from South got things going with a marginal Cal lead. There still seemed to be some holes in the Bears’ defense, but they certainly seemed like a more athletic team and were able to chase down balls and deliver to the basket. Despite close calls with the shot clock, a pair of threes by Bradley accented a 17-0 run which propelled the Bears to a 14 point lead midway through the half. Overconfidence and bold three-point shooting on Pepperdine’s part may have contributed to their poor second half shooting percentage, but the Waves vainly tried to chip away at the growing California lead. Ultimately, the strong second half performance by the Bears proved to be enough, as Cal outdid Pepperdine 87-71. Bradley scored an impressive 25 points with Austin, Kelly, and South also in double figures; Anticevich and Kelly finished with 10 rebounds apiece.