Cal Bears Remain Inconsistent, but Pick Up Win vs. Wyoming

Feb 21, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Ivan Rabb (1) chases down the ball against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. The Golden Bears won 80-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Ivan Rabb (1) chases down the ball against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. The Golden Bears won 80-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

Thanksgiving may have been Thursday, but the Cal Bears continued the feast on Friday by picking up a win against the Wyoming Cowboys, led by Charlie Moore.

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Coming off a very bad loss on Monday to the San Diego State Aztecs, the Cal Bears travelled from Sacramento back to Berkeley. The Wyoming Cowboys joined them at Haas Pavilion, also coming off their first loss of the season.

The Bears put another different starting five on the floor. Ivan Rabb was in the starting lineup for the first time this season, joining guard Charlie Moore and Grant Mullins, wingman Stephen Domingo, and center Kameron Rooks.

Both teams got off to a slow start, and the only points three minutes into the game were courtesy of a Rabb lay-in. Freshman sensation Moore followed with a mid-range jumper, forcing a Wyoming timeout very early in the game. The early-game run continued with Mullins’ sweet stroke sinking a three home.

Wyoming finally cracked the scoreboard with 14:09 to play in the first half on a free throw by Justin James. They wouldn’t make a field goal until seven minutes and 20 seconds into the game, as James completed a steal and lay-up. They were unsuccessful on nine straight shot attempts and had turned the ball over four times before that shot.

A sloppy start from Cal kept Wyoming somewhat close in the early going. They also turned the ball over four times in the first nine minutes, allowing Wyoming to stay within single digits.

After a timeout, the Bears went on an nine-point run and opened up the lead to as wide as 14 in the first half. But things soon reversed.

The Bears’ offense became somewhat stagnant, while Wyoming’s ball movement improved and allowed for much easier finishes. That 14-point lead was slashed down to six before the break. Cal couldn’t respond when Wyoming’s defense clamped down, settling for a lot of poor shots and contested drives.

Cal got their rhythm back, and Moore was a big beneficiary. The diminutive guard finished off a strong half by draining a long three just before the break. After 20 minutes, Cal took a 12-point lead into the locker room, led by Moore’s dozen points.

The Bears came out hot in the second half, opening on a 11-3 run to get the lead up to 20, their biggest of the night to that point. The hot start didn’t last and the Cowboys got right back into the game. After falling behind by as many as 22, Wyoming went on a 16-4 run to cut it back to 10.

The Cowboys continued to chip away and chip away a little more, and as the clock ticked under one minute, the Bears’ lead was a minuscule five points. Cal locked down on the defensive side, and two free throws each from Moore, Mullins, and Roger Moute a Bidias put the lead back into the double digits. At the end of 40 minutes, Cal escaped with a 71-61 victory.

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Both teams had a hand in their own fate. Sloppy play from Cal allowed Wyoming to get back into the game, and sloppy play from Wyoming kept them just out of arm’s reach of the lead. Cal turned the ball over 20 and committed 22 personal fouls. They shot 46.2 percent from the floor, but had a lot of empty possessions that kept them from pulling away and staying ahead.

Wyoming didn’t take great care of the ball either, turning it over 15 times themselves. Their shooting was rather poor at 37 percent, but they were awful from long range. The Cowboys made just four of their 23 three-point attempts for a 17.4 percent mark. They also left plenty of points at the free throw line, shooting just 65.4 percent (17-26).

Moore continued his early season freshman heroics with another strong performance. He led the way for the Bears with 18 points while also dishing out six assists and grabbing three steals. He only recorded one turnover. Moore shot 55.6 percent from the floor, and was perfect on seven free throw attempts.

Rabb complied his second straight double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Mullins chipped in 14 points, and Moute a Bidias matched his career-high with 12 points. Kingsley Okoroh only had two points and one rebound, but he was a force down low. He recorded five blocks to set a new career-high.

On the Wyoming side, James had a very nice night in the Bay Area. The sophomore scored a career-high 28 points off the bench, making him the game’s leading scorer. He was 9-14 from the floor, 3-4 from three-point range, and 7-9 from the stripe.

Cal moves to 3-1, but they have still yet to put together a full game of good basketball. At times, they look like one of the best teams in the country and can throttle opponents. In the blink of an eye, they can turn into a bumbling mess that looks disinterested in finding good looks on the offensive end. This inconsistency is something that will certainly need to be fixed, but it remains early in the year. There is time (for now).

Next: Bears Come Out Flat, Never Recover in Loss

The Bears have a quick turnaround, as they will be back on the court on Sunday night. Southeast Louisiana will come to Haas Pavilion, looking to snap Cal’s 22-game winning streak in the friendly confines of home. The Lions are 4-2 on the year, but 1-2 away from home. These two teams haven’t played each other before.