November 27, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Jabari Bird needed a faster tempo. California needed a faster tempo. The Bears turned to their defense to set the tune and things started rolling from there.

Bird scored a season-high 18 points, Tyrone Wallace added 16 points and eight rebounds and California defeated Cal Poly 72-52 on Wednesday.

''They had a good game plan to slow the pace down,'' Bird said. ''We started pressuring them more and forced them to take shots they didn't want to take.''

Jordan Mathews added 17 points for the Bears (4-1), who were coming off a loss to No. 10 Texas in the 2K Classic championship game in New York last week. Mathews has reached double figures in scoring in all five games this season.

''They took us out of our rhythm in the first half,'' Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''We did a great job of playing disciplined defense, especially in the second half. We took the advantage when we were able to make plays in transition.''

Brian Bennett scored a season-high 16 points to lead the Mustangs (2-2), who had their modest two-game win streak snapped. David Nwaba scored 14 and was 8 of 12 from the line.

The Mustangs drew within 40-37 following a pair of Nwaba free throws with 12:37 remaining to play.

The Bears extended their lead to 52-41 when Christian Behrens slammed home an offensive rebound four minutes later.

''It was a good moment,'' Behrens said. ''I positioned myself in the right place.''

Cal maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

Cal went on a 9-1 run midway through the first run to break a 14-all tie and gain some breathing room. The Bears eventually led by 10 before taking a 31-24 lead into halftime.

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TIP INS

Cal Poly opened a stretch of games in which it will play nine of 10 on the road. The Mustangs are one win shy of 250 as a Division I program. Cal Poly has not won a non-conference game on the road since downing UCLA on Nov. 25, 2012. The Mustangs entered the game as the national leader in fewest turnovers (6.3) per game.

California's David Kravish blocked a shot in the first half, his 188th career block. That leaves him 19 short of the school's all-time record, currently held by Michael Stewart with 207.

STAT ODDITY

Cal Poly junior forward Joel Awich entered play as a 32 percent shooter from the field and a 14 percent shooter from long range. Against the Bears, he was 1 of 11 from the field, with the only basket coming on his only 3-point attempt. He finished the game with an overall 23 percent shooting average from the field and as a 25 percent 3-point shooter.

UP NEXT

Cal Poly returns to the Bay Area for a game at St. Mary's in Moraga on Saturday.

California travels to Fresno State for a game on Sunday.

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