Having outclassed the Arkansas Razorbacks and stay competitive in a losing effort against the #8 Syracuse Orange, the California Golden Bears found themselves playing for third place in the Maui Invitational against the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday afternoon. Having to play yet another game without Richard Solomon, who suffered a right corneal abrasion against the Razorbacks, the Bears struggled without the big man’s presence, both in the paint and in terms of depth losing emphatically to Dayton 82-64.
Cal’s first half was perhaps the most torturous 20 minutes of basketball that the team has endured so far this season. The Flyers drove to the paint often, outmuscled the Bears seemingly on every possession, and even produced a 14-0 scoring run that sealed Cal’s first half ineptitude. What made matters worse and the disparity greater, was Cal’s uncanny inability to make anything unless the surname was Kravish or Cobbs. Justin Cobbs had 12 points and David Kravish had 8 respectively in the first half, respectively. Cal’s bench only produced 3 points from Jordan Mathews, wheras Dayton’s bench knocked down 26. Cal’s gritty guards, Tyrone Wallace and Jabari Bird were especially tepid throughout the game, shooting a combined 4-12 from the field.
Ricky Kreklow opened up Cal’s half in dubious fashion, picking up two quick fouls, but his errant ways were quickly forgotten by a red hot Justin Cobbs who came out of the locker room flying, knocking down six consecutive buckets since the restart and single handedly providing the Bears with a source of inspiration and a glimmer of a comeback.
Unfortunately Cobb’s efforts were quickly dashed by an 11-0 run from the Fylers, emphasized by a devastating slam from Dayton’s Kyle Davis. The freshman’s dunk was made possible by a lane that was wide enough for five morbidly obese adults on rascal scooters to sludge through. And the Bears were almost as slow and sluggish in this game like that scooter gang, turning the ball over 13 times, missing high percentage shots (23-57 from the field)
The Bears also had 21 fouls in this game, some of which prompted head Mike Montgomery to give the referees and earful, particularly on the hand check. Regardless of these grievances, Cal was simply manhandled in the paint, failed on second chance buckets, and did not match the Flyers’ intensity nor their mentality.
Dayton had four players in double figures, their forward Devin Oliver, was fantastic scoring 21 points and bringing down 7 boards.
Essentially, the Bears only relied on two scoring options tonight. David Kravish who had a strong tournment, followed up his 19 and 15 point performances with a 12 points and 14 rebounds in a losing effort.
Senior guard, Justin Cobbs was outstanding against the Flyers, scoring a career high 31 points before fouling out of the game. Had Justin Cobbs not deliver, we would have seen nearly half of Cal’s points evaporate.
Like Syracuse, Dayton is a tough team to play against without Richard Solomon because of their ability to wear down teams in the paint. And it was evident after 40 minutes of basketball that the Fylers bench was exceptional, down teams with their depth, scoring 52 points. Conversely, Cal’s bench was put into question today and failed to answer the call. Jordan Mathews was the sole proprietor on Cal’s bench with 8 points, a statistic that is utterly unacceptable for Montgomery’s side.
Cal began the season 5-0 and now are on a two game losing streak. After hanging with nationally ranked Syracuse until ultimately losing by 11, Cal were flat out dominated in 40 minutes by a rampant Dayton team.
The Golden Bears scored in bunches in their first two matches, tallying a combined 166 points, but seemed to lose that energy in their third and final consecutive game. After the Thanksgiving holiday, Montgomery’s Bears will host UC Irvine and ought to win comfortably despite losing two in three days.
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