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Cal Basketball: Bears Rout Idaho State

Strong defensive effort in second half helps Cal get back to the .500 mark

Cal exerted its dominance early in the second half on its way to a 72-46 victory over Idaho State on Wednesday night at Cal's Haas Pavilion.

The 26-point win was Cal's largest margin of victory since a 31-point win over Cal State Northridge last December.

Cal (5-5) got its record back to the .500 mark, but it did not take command until the second half against the overmatched Bengals. Idaho State (1-8) plays in the Big Sky conference, has lost eight in a row and is winless against Division I opponents this season.

Cal led by just three points at 31-28 with 18:56 left in the game, but the Bears then outscored Idaho State 18-2, including a run of 13 straight points. Idaho State missed 12 consecutive shots from the floor in that run, which ended with Cal holding a 49-30 lead with 11 minutes left.

Idaho State shot just 20 percent (5-for-25) from the floor in the second half and was limited to 28 percent shooting for the game. 

"I really wanted us to play hard on the defensive end, because that has to be part of our fabric as a team," Cal coach Mark Fox said. "And we know as disjointed as our roster has been with injury that offensively it's going to take a while to develop some chemistry. But I really wanted us to play hard defensively, and I thought in the second half we really showed that."

Andre Kelly and Lars Thiemann each had 12 points for Cal, Jordan Shepherd added 11 and Grant Anticevich had 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Thiemann was particularly impressive as he went 4-for-5 from the field and 4-for-5 from the foul line to reach a career high in points.  Granted, many of his points came after the outcome was decided and it remains to be seen whether he can have an impact against better competition. But it was encouraging.

"Lars played really well, but that's what he's capable of," Shepherd said. "When he comes into the game he's always capable of that. We see it every day in practice."

Tarik Cool, Idaho State's leading scorer coming into the game, had eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.

No Cal player scored more than seven points in the first half, but the Bears took a 30-23 lead into halftime.

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Cal shot 40 percent from the field in the first half, and Jalen Celestine, and  Anticevich had seven points apiece to lead the Bears.

The score was tied 22-22 with 2:26 remaining in the opening half before Cal outscored the Bengals 8-1 to end the half. A bucket by Kelly at the 2:04 mark put the Bears ahead 24-22, and a fast-break basket by Joel Brown off an Idaho State turnover increased the lead to four points. 

After Cool made one free throw for Idaho State, Brown sank two free throws with 1:10 left and Celestine tipped in a miss with 34 seconds to go to push the margin to seven points at the break.

Cal then dominated the second half.

NOTES: Makale Foreman and Sam Alajiki were starters for the first time this season on Wednesday. The Bears' starting lineup consisted of Foreman, Alajiki, Jordan Shepherd, Grant Anticevich and Andre Kelly.

Kuany Kuany, who injured his ankle against Utah on Sunday, did not play, and Fox did not know when he would be available.

Cal freshman Marsalis Roberson got his first playing time of the season, playing two minutes in the first half. .Fox said he has had only two full practices after being limited by injuries.

The Bears next play Santa Clara (7-3) in a nonconference game in Berkeley on Saturday evening.

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Cover photo of Andre Kelly by Rob Edwards, KLC Fotos

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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