Cal’s 73-64 loss to Oregon State Saturday afternoon in Corvallis, Oregon, was a tough one for the Bears to swallow.
Not only did the Bears let a 12-point, second-half lead get away, but they lost Matt Bradley in the first half when he injured his left ankle. Bradley’s absence was critical, because Oregon State (5-3, 1-1 Pac-12) outscored Cal 52-35 after Bradley left the game with 3:31 left in the first half.
This is not the same ankle Bradley injured earlier this season that kept him out of two games, and Cal coach Mark Fox believes this injury is “significant” and is likely to sideline Bradley for a few games.
“That is not a re-injury of his previous injury, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing, because his other one wasn’t back to 100 percent,” Fox said. “[This injury] is pretty significant, I believe. I don’t think we’ll have Matt for some time.”
Bradley came into the game as the Pac-12’s leading scorer, averaging 19.4 points per game. He had just five points Saturday.
The loss dropped Cal to 5-6 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-12. The Bears are 0-5 on the road this season and 2-25 in their last 27 games away from home.
“It was a disappointing loss for a couple of reasons,” Fox said. “One, the result of the game, but the loss of Matt Bradley, you know, in the first half was obviously a huge factor in the game.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Oregon State, but we really had a difficult time without Matt. Even though we played without him a week ago, it’s little harder against Pac-12 competition. That being said, if we make our free throws, we win the game. So disappointed in our performance at the free-throw line, and obviously in the second half we didn’t play nearly as well as we need to play to win on the road.”
Cal was 14-for-28 from the foul line for the game, including 1-for-4 in the final two minutes when it was a two-point game.
“You have to be able to go to the line and make a free throw; it’s as simple as that,” Fox said.
It looked like the Bears would get their first conference win and first road win when they took a 12-point lead with 18:21 left in the game. But after shooting 65 percent in the first half, the Bears’ offense stalled in the second half, when they shot just 39.1 percent.
Oregon State tied the game on a Maurice Caloo three-pointer with 6:51 remaining, went ahead on an Ethan Thompson bucket with 6:20 to go, and ended a 10-0 run with a Caloo three-pointer at the 5:21 mark to put the Beavers ahead by five.
Cal rallied to tie the game at 63-63 with 3:22 left, but Thompson regained the lead for the Beavers on a bucket with 2:30 to go.
Cal’s Lars Thiemann had a chance to tie the game with two free-throw attempts with 1:48 left and the Bears down by two. But he missed both foul shots and finished the game 3-for-11 from the foul line. It ruined an otherwise solid game for the 7-footer, who had seven points and nine rebounds.
Jarred Hyder, Andre Kelly and Kuany Kuany led the Bears in scoring with 12 points apiece. Thompson had 16 for the Beavers.
Oregon State’s game against Stanford, scheduled for this past Thursday, was postponed due to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the Beavers’ program. It has since been rescheduled for Monday.
The postponement of Thursday’s Oregon State game led to suspicions that Cal’s game against the Beavers would also be postponed, but the game was played as scheduled Saturday.
The Beavers had defeated Cal 71-63 back on Nov. 25 in the season opener for both teams, although that game did not count in the Pac-12 standings.
This one did.
Cal forward Grant Anticevich missed his fourth straight game after having an appendectomy on Dec. 19. It is unclear when he will return. And with Bradley out until further notice, the Bears have some issues.
“It’s almost a little bit of a reinvention,” Fox said. “It’s a challenge at both ends.”
Oregon State was without all three of its assistant coaches as well as starter Roman Silva due to virus-related issues, although Silva averages just 9.4 minutes a game.
Cal held a 36-26 lead at halftime, but it wasn’t all good news for the Bears, who shot 65 percent in the first half.
With 3:31 left in the half, Bradley landed on the foot of an Oregon State defender and and twisted his left ankle. He spent the rest of the game in a boot and on crutches near the Cal bench. He had missed two games with an injury to the other ankle before returning for Thursday’s game against Oregon.
Hyder led the Bears with eight points in the first half, as the Bears got scoring from eight players over the first 20 minutes.
Oregon State shot 39.1 percent in the first half, but sixth man Jarod Lucas kept the Beavers in the game by making three-three-pointers.
Cover photo of Matt Bradley by Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports