Cal battles past Reno 63-56
RENO, Nev. (AP) Cal guard Tyrone Wallace was acutely aware of the halftime stats.
His Bears were down six points at Nevada. And his team was shooting just 25 percent from the field.
''I just continued to be aggressive,'' Wallace said. ''I just missed some easy shots at the rim that I usually make. My team needed me, with us down six at the half, only shooting 25 percent from the field. I knew my team needed me to take it to the next level, so I tried to go out there and defend and score.''
He did just that, scoring 26 points after intermission and netting 29 overall in a 63-56 win over Nevada on Sunday. Wallace, the Bears' point guard, scored nearly half of his team's points and made 11-of-20 shots. He added eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
''He did a great job putting pressure on the defense,'' Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''He made some big 3s, got to the free throw line, penetrated, made timely passes. I thought he played well offensively, got some big rebounds and our team fed off his energy and his ability to pass and make plays.''
Said Nevada coach David Carter: ''Wallace really took over the game. He was the difference.''
Cal (7-1) spread the floor and went to a four-guard lineup in the second half. After shooting 25 percent from the field in the first half, the team connected on 51.5 percent in the second. Cal trailed 30-24 at halftime and 50-46 with 6:05 remaining before the Bears closed the game on a 17-6 run. Wallace's transition dunk with 11.3 seconds left was the game's final score.
''Coach Martin instills fight in us and hard work in us,'' Wallace said. ''We continue to be aggressive, continue to fight. It doesn't matter if you're having a bad day, you continue to shoot if that's what you do, and we were able to get out of here on top.''
David Kravish was the only other Cal player in double figures, tallying 11 points and six rebounds. Christian Behrens had six points and nine rebounds for Cal, which was playing without Jabari Bird (foot).
The Wolf Pack's offensive woes continued. Nevada (2-6), which was seeking its first win over a Pac-12 opponent in two years, lost its sixth-straight game after opening the season 2-0. During its six-game losing streak, the Wolf Pack hasn't scored more than 60 points.
''It's about being consistent,'' Carter said. ''You look at the stat sheet and we have three starters with only one field goal, and two of them you rely on getting three or four.''
Nevada's top two scorers, guards D.J. Fenner and Marqueze Coleman, both went 1-of-8 from the field, combining for eight points in 62 minutes. Center AJ West led the team with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks, but no other Wolf Pack player scored in double figures.
The Wolf Pack shot 33.3 percent from the field, including 25.9 percent in the second half. The team missed its first eight field-goal attempts of the second half and its final six attempts of the game. Nevada, which was 19-of-27 from the free throw line, missed some crucial free throw attempts late.
''We get stops, we get pretty good looks and we come down empty,'' Carter said. ''It's not like the defense is coming down and doing something different to take away our offense. We're settling for shots where we should drive it at times or missing easy ones at times. It comes down to making shots.''
Cal, which is receiving votes in the AP poll, increased its winning streak to four straight games. The last three have come down to the final few minutes, with the Bears making the big plays down the stretch.
''They have a passion for each other and they want to be successful,'' Martin said of his players. ''They do a tremendous job of representing California. They want to win games, and for us those things are great to go through. Of course you'd like to win games by 20 points, but to go through tough things and find a way to win games together, it only helps you grow.''
Cal: Cuonzo Martin, the Bears' first-year coach, is off to the second-best start in program history. Ben Cherrington directed Cal to a 7-0 start in 1916. Martin came to Cal after leading Tennessee to the Sweet 16 last season. The former Purdue star also coached at Missouri State.
Nevada: Forward Kaileb Rodriguez, who transferred out of Cal after his freshman season, played against his former team for the first time. He started and tallied two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. He was 1-of-3 from the field. . Former Wolf Pack point guard Ramon Sessions, now a member of the Sacramento Kings, was in attendance. He led Nevada to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Cal hosts Wyoming on Wednesday.
Nevada hosts Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.