Denver loses 1st game, 80-59 to No. 20 California
Denver’s Brian Stafford had 40 family and friends sitting in the
stands at Haas Pavilion in a rare Northern California appearance
for the Pioneers’ leading scorer.
Neither he nor his teammates gave them much to cheer about
following opening introductions.
Stafford, who grew up 20 minutes east in Walnut Creek, was held
to six points, well below his average, and Denver didn’t have a
single player in double digits during an 80-59 loss to No. 20
California on Saturday.
The Pioneers’ first loss of the season came on the heels of
their impressive win over Saint Mary’s three nights earlier in
”They’re a good team and they just jumped on us from the
beginning,” said Stafford, who took only five shots in 27 minutes.
”On both ends of the court we didn’t really respond the right way.
Offensively, we started trying to do things on our own instead of
playing as a team.”
Chris Udofia scored nine points to lead Denver (4-1), which was
outmuscled inside in losing the rebounding battle 33-20 and outshot
from the perimeter.
The Pioneers’ main problem against the bigger, quicker and
stronger Bears came on defense. Cal shot 52 percent from the floor,
made 9 of 14 3-pointers and went 19 for 22 at the free-throw
Denver, off to the program’s best start since winning seven
straight to begin the 1996-97 season, never round a rhythm while
facing a ranked opponent for the first time since losing to No. 10
Gonzaga on Nov. 24, 2003. The Pioneers haven’t beaten a ranked team
since a 96-74 victory over Utah State on Feb. 15, 1971.
”The defensive end for us was very poor,” Denver coach Joe
Scott said. ”They were the aggressor, they were fast, they were
strong. We were the reactor and then that transferred down to the
other end and it sort of stayed the same on offense.”
Allen Crabbe scored 15 points and matched his career high with
10 rebounds to help Cal stay unbeaten at home this season in Haas
Crabbe, last season’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, shot 6 for 9
with three 3-pointers and helped the Bears (5-1) overcome a slow
start against the Pioneers. Cal bounced back from a 92-53 defeat to
No. 21 Missouri in the CBE Classic championship game Tuesday night
in Kansas City, Mo.
”Coach was telling us that we shouldn’t take this team lightly
since they just came off that big win against Saint Mary’s,”
Crabbe said. ”They’re a pretty smart team. We just focused on the
Justin Cobbs added a career-best 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting
and made all four of his 3-point tries for the Bears. Harper Kamp
had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists for Cal, which
improved to 5-0 on its home floor and 24-3 in nonconference games
at Haas during coach Mike Montgomery’s four-year tenure. The Bears
are in a stretch with six of seven games in Berkeley.
Denver has nine returning players and four starters back from a
team that placed third in the Sun Belt Conference last season.
Stafford, who came in averaging 17.0 points per game, is the top
returner and continued to creep up the school’s career scoring
chart despite his off night.
”We only had one day to prepare for their stuff and that’s kind
of tough against a good team, especially when they come out and
play like they did tonight,” Stafford said. ”We know we can play
a lot better than we did.”
Udofia – Denver’s second-leading scorer with a 15.3 average –
was 3 of 11 and 1 for 6 on 3s to go with six assists.
Cal star Jorge Gutierrez picked up two first-half fouls and
played only six minutes before returning after halftime. Cobbs
filled in nicely, knocking down two 3-pointers during an 11-3
Gutierrez finished with 11 points and made all eight of his
free-throw tries as the Bears more than doubled the Pioneers in
trips to the line. Cal shot 64.3 percent from 3-point range, going
9 for 14 – an area Montgomery has said needs improvement. The Bears
had made only 25 total before Saturday.
Cal missed its first six field-goal tries and began 3 for 10,
but Denver also missed its initial six attempts before Stafford’s
layin at the 14-minute mark. Both teams were sloppy early, though
Cal crashed the offensive glass to create second and third
opportunities. The Bears wound up with only 13 turnovers, an
improvement after committing a season-high 21 in the loss to
Missouri. They had 78 through their first five games.
Cal has won all three meetings between the schools, which hadn’t
played since the 1967-68 season.