The Cowboys used a late run holding Cal without a field goal in the final four minutes of the game, but it wasn’t enough as the Pokes fell on the road to the Golden Bears 71-61 on Friday evening in Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. The Pokes fall to 3-2 on the season with the Bears improving to 3-1. The Golden Bears have now won 22-straight games at home.
“We played on our heels in the first half and you can’t do that against a tough and gritty team like Cal,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “We were more assertive and played better in transition in the second half. It showed growth, as we need to stick to the process.”
Sophomore guard Justin James poured in a career-high 28 points. It marked the fourth-straight game he has scored in double-figures. It was also his first 20 point scoring game of his career. Junior forward Hayden Dalton added 10 points for his third game in double-figures this season. Junior forward Alan Herndon added 11 points for his second straight-games in double-figures. He also led the Pokes with nine rebounds.
“Justin (James) is a tremendous talent,” Edwards said. “He has the ability to go and get his own shot. He is a kid that is coming into his own and having a great sophomore season.”
The Pokes shot 37 percent from the field going 20-of-54. UW shot 44 percent from the field in the second half to spark the comeback. Wyoming was held to 17 percent from the three point line going 4-of-23. The Golden Bears shot 46 percent from the field going 24-of-52 and the shot 33 percent on 5-of-15 shooting from behind the arc.
Cal held the advantage on the boards grabbing 38 rebounds to the Cowboys 32. Cal was averaging 48 rebounds per game coming into the contest. The Pokes were excellent in capitalizing on Cal’s 20 turnovers scoring 24 points.
Edwards commented on keeping the Golden Bears off the boards in the game. “It was an emphasis for us tonight to be solid on the boards,” Edwards said. Alan (Herndon) did a great job on their big guys. The scrappiness of Hayden (Dalton) also help us tonight.”
Cal got off to a fast start in the second half hitting 4-of-5 field goals to open the stanza to take a 47-29 lead on the Cowboys. James scored seven-straight points midway through the half that sparked a 12-2 Cowboy run to trim the Cal lead to 56-46.
The Cowboys hit 5-of-7 shots from the field to cut the Cal lead to nine at 63-54 with 4:25 left in the second frame. The Pokes cut the lead at 65-58 on a dunk by Herndon. James added to the run with a jumper to pull UW with five points at 65-60. But the Golden Bears hit free throw shots in the final minute to earn the win.
The Pokes struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the opening minutes of the contest, as California jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The Cowboys got their first point of the game on a free throw from James.
James gave the Cowboys a spark off the bench, as he scored five more points for the Pokes on a steal and layup followed by a three that cut into the Cal lead to make it a 14-6 contest. The Cowboys pulled within six at 14-8 on a jumper by junior guard Alexander Aka Gorski, but a 9-0 run extended the Cal lead to 23-8.
The Pokes held the Golden Bears without a field goal for nearly six minutes and cut the Cal lead to 28-22 in the final minutes of the opening frame. Cal closed the half on a 10-4 run to take a 38-26 lead into the break.
Charlie Moore led the Golden Bears in scoring with 18 points. Ivan Rabb, one of the top big men in the country recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cowboys return home to host regional rival Denver on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. That contest opens a six game homestand for UW.