No. 20 California 80, Denver 59
Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs were roommates on their recent
road trip to Kansas City for the CBE Classic. They hardly spoke
after No. 20 California’s surprising 39-point blowout loss to
21st-ranked Missouri in the championship.
The Golden Bears were stunned and embarrassed to be beaten that
badly. They flew home the next day and regrouped.
Crabbe found his shooting touch again to score 15 points and
matched his career high with 10 rebounds and Cal defeated Denver
80-59 on Saturday to stay unbeaten at home in Haas Pavilion.
”We all were just frustrated and couldn’t believe it
happened,” Cobbs said of the 92-53 loss on Tuesday. ”The next
day, it felt like something was wrong, we kind of got embarrassed
out there. Wednesday, we got back and got a day off to think about
Crabbe, last season’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, shot 6 for 9
with three 3-pointers and helped the Golden Bears (5-1) overcome a
slow start against the Pioneers (4-1).
Chris Udofia scored nine points to lead Denver, which was
outmuscled inside in losing the rebounding battle 33-20 and outshot
from the perimeter. The Pioneers struggled offensively on the heels
of an impressive win over Bay Area team Saint Mary’s on Wednesday
night in Colorado.
”I watched those guys beat Saint Mary’s and that scared me,”
Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. ”I think we kind of gave in
(against Missouri). I think truthfully, Missouri’s better than we
are. We probably should have felt pretty bad about that and we
wanted to get back on the floor.”
Cobbs added a career-best 22 points on 7-of-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 Montgomery’s four-season tenure. The Bears are in a stretch
with six of seven games in Berkeley.
”It could have hurt our confidence. This was very necessary for
us at this point,” Montgomery said of the rout by Mizzou. ”You’ve
got Allen and Justin 13 for 18 – that’s pretty good stuff.”
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. ”That’s where it all started. 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
Denver has nine returning players and four starters back from a
team that placed third in the Sun Belt Conference last season.
Leading scorer Brian Stafford, who came in averaging 17.0 points
per game, was held to six points on 3-for-5 shooting, while
second-leading scorer Udofia – with a 15.3 average – was 3 of 11
and 1 for 6 on 3s to go with six assists.
”On both ends of the court we didn’t really respond the right
way,” Stafford said. ”We didn’t guard their stuff the way we
practiced it. Offensively, we started trying to do things on our
own instead of playing as a team.”
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 Brian
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.
”We had kind of a bad taste in our mouth after we took that
loss to Missouri,” Crabbe said. ”We just took it as it’s early in
the season. We just took it as we’ve still got a lot of things to
work on, put it behind us.”
Cal forward Richard Solomon sustained an abrasion on his right
eye, the same one he hurt during the team’s Scandinavian tour. He
said his eye was blurry and hoped it would heal so he can play
Monday against McNeese State.