Cal got a faster start in its second basketball game of the season, and that was just about all the Golden Bears needed.
Too much for Northwest University, an NAIA program from the Seattle area, the Bears led 29-7 after 13 minutes and breezed to an 86-61 victory on Thursday at Corvallis, Ore.
The victory closed a two-game set at Gill Coliseum, following a non-conference loss to Pac-12 rival Oregon State on Wednesday.
The Bears (1-1) open their home schedule Monday at 4:30 p.m. against Nicholls State.
This game was never in doubt — even before it began — and the Eagles started so poorly there was not a moment’s drama. Northwest, playing a Division I opponent for just the second time ever, missed 16 of its first 19 shot attempts.
Cal led 41-21 at halftime and by as many as 37 points late in the game.
One night after falling behind early against the Beavers, Cal coach Mark Fox saw this game as a necessary step after a long offseason made longer by complications in a COVID-19 environment.
“When you don’t play five-on-five for 8 1/2 months, there’s going to be significant rust,” he said. “We’ve got to get used to screening people. We have to get to get used to rebounding against people. Shooting vs. defense. Passing vs. defense. Guarding all the situations defensively.
"I think there’s going to be probably lots of sloppy play until kids get comfortable again. For us, we wanted to knock off a little more rust and we wanted to defend a little better than we did in the first half last night, and I thought we made a little bit of progress.”
Twelve players scored for the Bears, led by 14 points from Ryan Betley, 11 each by Matt Bradley and Andre Kelly, and 10 apiece by Makale Foreman and Joel Brown.
The game again suggested that grad transfer guards Betley, from Penn, and Foreman, from Stony Brook, will help Cal from the perimeter. Betley was 3-for-6 from the 3-point arc, Foreman 2-for-6. The rest of the Bears made just 1 of 8 attempts from deep.
Through two games, Betley and Foreman are a combined 10-for-25 (40 percent) from beyond the arc, and their teammates are 2-for-20 (10 percent).
“Ryan and McKale can obviously shoot it,” Fox said. “That’s a welcome addition.”
Cal out rebounded Northwest 54-33 as Betley grabbed nine and Bradley seven. Foreman, who got his first Cal start, had six assists and Brown had five.
Fox changed his lineup for Game 2, going with Betley, Foreman, Bradley, Kuany Kuany and D.J. Thorpe.
Fox said it was a matter of maintaining a competitive edge.
“Ultimately, as we change the trajectory of this program, we also have to also change the competitive maturity and competitive endurance within the team,” he said. “I think we started the game with much better effort tonight, defensive intensity. It’s going to take us a while to find any kind of rotation.”
Fox reaction to Jarred Hyder waiver decision
In his first public response, Fox expressed disappointment at the NCAA’s decision last week to deny Fresno State transfer Jarred Hyder’s petition for an eligibility waiver.
“I don’t have a full explanation yet on why Jarred’s waiver was denied,” Fox said. “Obviously, I was extremely disappointed in that ruling because the percentage of people who are getting it is extremely high.
“We’re going to dig into it, keep investigating what the reason was. There’s no question I was disappointed.”
Division I basketball players who transfer typically must sit out a year before being eligible to play. But the NCAA this year has fairly regularly approved waivers allowing transfers immediate eligibility, which left Fox a bit perplexed.
Asked if he was confident before the decision that the sophomore point guard would be permitted to play this season, Fox said, “I guess because I’m surprised he didn’t get it I was confident he (would).”
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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