Coming off playing a solid first half against Washington on Saturday, Cal head coach Wyking Jones begged his players this week to put together consecutive good halves against Colorado.
The Bears apparently skewed the message.
They played an awful first half and couldn’t make up the difference with a solid second half Thursday night at Haas Pavilion, losing 68-59, extending their skid to eight games.
“Those ones always hurt, especially because we’re trying to get our first win in Pac-12 play,” said Cal sophomore forward Justice Sueing, who had 13 points to share team-high scoring honors with Paris Austin. “It’s 40 minutes. We’ve got to go out and play a full 40 minutes and leave it all out on the floor. We don’t have that margin of error where we can lay back. Those little spurts when we’re not focused, they really come back to hurt us at the end of the game.”
In two of its past three games, Cal (5-14, 0-7 Pac-12) has missed some of its best chances to break a conference losing skid that dates to Feb. 3 against Oregon State. The Bears lost 82-59 on Jan. 17 to Washington State, which was projected to finish in the conference cellar, and added Thursday’s nine-point loss to Colorado (11-7, 2-4), which had beaten only the Cougars in conference play.
Colorado hadn’t won a road game since beating New Mexico on Dec. 11 and hadn’t won in Berkeley since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. The Buffaloes got a boost from sophomore point guard McKinley Wright, who returned from a shoulder injury and put his fingerprints all over the game.
Wright had eight points, four rebounds and four assists, and orchestrated an offense that picked apart Cal’s defense with an equal mix of scoring at the rim and driving and kicking to wide-open 3-point shooters. Colorado had three players in double-digit scoring, including Tyler Bey (17 points, 14 rebounds) as it shot 50 percent and dished out 18 assists on 25 field goals.
For Cal, players not named Sueing and Austin shot 10-for-32 (31.3 percent).
It was a continued regression for the Cal offense, which had averaged 67 points on 38.7 percent shooting and committed 1.5 turnovers for each assist during the first seven games of the skid.
The Bears led for only 40 seconds and by as many as just three points.
Colorado hit its third 3-pointer in the game’s opening five minutes to ignite an 11-1 run. Cal went without a field goal for nearly seven minutes during the stretch, and the Buffaloes extended their lead to 21-11 on a Lucas Siewert jumper with 8:46 remaining in the half
A Sueing layup finally snapped the Bears’ string of standing around and missing jumpers at the 6:25 mark of the first half, but they made only one field goal during the next 6½ minutes as Colorado bumped its advantage to 32-17.
On its seventh attempt, Cal finally made a 3-pointer three minutes into the second half when Matt Bradley connected from the wing. By then, the Bears were chasing a 16-point deficit (it had been as much as 18), and Wright hadn’t even taken a shot.
“It all comes down to being consistent and giving that same effort and fight for 40 minutes,” Jones said. “… We have our spurts, but it comes down to being able to put it all together for two halves.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Colorado-extends-Cal-men-s-losing-skid-to-eight-13560524.php.