BERKELEY -- Three players scored in double figures, and 12 of the 14 players who suited up saw action as California (8-3) easily defeated visiting Prairie View A&M (5-7) 85-53 at Haas Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
“We played with some enthusiasm and got people involved,” said head coach Mike Montgomery after the game. “We did a pretty good job defensively – once we figured out what they were trying to do – we were decent. And I thought that was a plus.”
Allen Crabbe led all scorers with 23 points (8-11 FG, 3-4 3PT, 4-5 FT), and was followed by Richard Solomon’s 18 points (7-11 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT), and Justin Cobbs’s 14 points (5-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-6 FT). The three combined for 54 of Cal’s total on the day.
While those three players scored more than all of the Panthers combined, it took a total of 12 Bears on this day to get the victory. Of the 12 who played, 11 scored at least one point and Jeff Powers, who scored his first points of the season, was the fourth leading scorer for the Bears with nine points (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT).
“It’s definitely good for us to have other people [on the court] and to show the coaches that they can actually produce for us,” said Crabbe of all of the players who contributed Saturday.
For the Panthers, guard Jourdan DeMuynck was the only player to reach a double-digit scoring total – scoring 11 points (4-12 FG, 0-2 3PT, 3-4 FT) on the day.
The Bears outrebounded the Panthers 45-25 and were led by Solomon’s nine boards, six on the offensive side, with Crabbe contributing with seven – six defensive.
While the rebound totals were of a positive note, the 17 turnovers in the game was the most troubling about the win. Three of Cal’s five starters – all guards (Cobbs, Crabbe, and Tyrone Wallace) – accounted for nine of the team’s turnovers.
The Bears got a wake-up call after three and a half minutes of play, down by five, 9-4. After starting the game out of sync, Solomon and freshman Tyrone Wallace fueled the revival with three points apiece in less than 30 seconds.
Solomon, fouled under the rim, got his layup and capitalized with the and-one bucket from the charity stripe. Wallace, who has been hesitant to shoot the three, found himself open on the perimeter and sank the long bomb to put Cal up 10-9 with 16:15 left in the opening period.
The two scoring plays fueled a 18-2 run that turned the tables in a big way on their SWAC opponent. By the time the run had ended, the Bears led the Panthers 22-11, with 12:10 left before the half.
Prairie View A&M ended the run with their fourth three-point score of the half, but the Bears remained in control and kept a healthy lead the rest of the way. The Bears would eventually open up their largest lead of the opening period – a 17-point advantage
To start the second half, Montgomery put his starting lineup on the floor, and they not only held the lead, but eventually extended it. Cal’s largest lead of the game came with 1:31 remaining, where they led Prairie View A&M by 32, 81-49.
Towards the end of the first half, things began to get a little chippy between the two squads when Brandon Smith passed to Cobbs, and guard Montrael Scott continued to shove him long after the pass. The shove, which earned a personal foul for Scott appeared to be out of anger.
Cobbs, who had the ball, had a few choice words for Scott, and Prairie View A&M forward Deondre Chapman came to Scott’s defense. While Cobbs and Chapman were having words, the official had the last say by giving the two heated players technical for their efforts.
Three Bears scored in double figures during the first half. Crabbe led all scorers with 14 points, (5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-3 FT), followed by Solomon with 12, (4-6 FG, 4-4 FT), and Cobbs with 10, (3-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-5 FT).
Cal has one game left on the schedule before starting Pac-12 play. Montgomery wouldn’t say if the Bears were ready for conference play, but said that he expects that they’ll compete to be at the top of the conference.
“Ready or not, here we come. It doesn’t make any difference [if we are ready] because we have to play regardless,” said Montgomery. “I thought about calling up the league and saying we weren’t quite ready, and ask if we could postpone this thing a little bit, but I didn’t get much of a response.”
“We’re probably middle of the pack right now and we’re going to have to improve in some areas. We certainly have the ability to finish toward the top and that’s our goal.”
-- Ricky Kreklow was held out of the lineup due to a lingering ankle injury that has plagued him most of the season. Montgomery stated that he had made the decision on Friday so that he would get extra rest going into the Christmas break. “He came off the last game and was pretty sore,” said Montgomery. “But with Christmas coming up, we’ve got three days, and we’re better off trying to get to where it really feels good so he can go out there and go 100 percent, and try to get some good reps.”
-- Solomon’s 18 points was a career high for the junior post player. His previous high was 14 points – which he accomplished on three different occasions.
-- Crabbe is now ranked 28th all-time on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,154 points in his career. He passed Harper Kamp (1,133 points) and Butch Hays (1,145 points) on the list.
-- Crabbe also recorded three steals during the game, tying his career high.
-- Montgomery said that Smith’s head injury during the game was ‘probably’ a concussion. Tests will be run to determine the extent of the injury.
-- Cal has one more non-conference game. The final game is at home against Harvard at 5:00 p.m. PST.