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Cal Basketball: For 2nd Day in a Row, A Loss for the Bears' Men, A Victory for Women

The Cal men are 0-7 after falling to Clemson; the Bears' women topped Montana.

Cal’s ongoing offensive shortcomings led to the Bears’ seventh loss without a victory this season, a 67-59 defeat at the hands of Clemson in the consolation game of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida on Saturday.

Cal shot under 40 percent from the field, was just 3 for 20 from the 3-point line and never led while losing for the second day in a row. The Bears were beaten 58-49 by TCU in Friday’s game.

“We’re very disappointed with the loss and very disappointed in the start to our season,” coach Mark Fox said afterward, “but I’ll say this about our group today: they played their second game in 20 hours with 4-5 guys out, and to play an ACC team (and) to battle like we did . . . it was a six-point game with 30 seconds left. They gave us a great effort.”

Cal (0-7) is off to the worst start in program history and plays next on Wednesday at home against USC (4-3) in its Pac-12 opener. The Bears then trek to Tucson for a matchup next Sunday vs. No. 14 Arizona (6-0).

The Bears continue to play without three guards sidelined by injury: top returning scorer Jalen Celestine and newcomer DeJuan Clayton, neither of whom has played in a game yet, and returning backup Jarred Hyder, who is out for the season.

Still, the Bears have struggled offensively all season, shooting 40.8 percent from the field and 29.2 percent on 3-pointers. They are averaging 16 turnovers per game and have been held under 60 points four times, including their past three outings.

“I didn’t figure we would shoot well with being fatigued but we played super hard,” Fox said. “I told our players that the coaches takes responsibility for this start, that’s 1,000 percent on the coach. Our players are getting better, but it starts on the coach.”

Junior guard Devin Askew, a transfer who played one season each at Kentucky and Texas, scored 18 points to lead the Bears but shot 5 for 17 from the field. Center Lars Thiemann added 25 points on 6-for-7 shooting and had five rebounds and three blocked shots.

Forward Kuany Kuany scored 11 points, thanks to going 7 for 8 at the free throw line. The Bears converted 18 of 20 foul shots.

“We have to get to the free throw line. We know that scoring is a challenge for us. We are a good free-throw shooting team and I thought that in the first half kept us in it,” Fox said of the Bears trailing just 31-28 at the break.

But Clemson (5-2) outscored the Bears 17-6 over the first 8 minutes of the half. At that point, Cal was shooting 28 percent and had more turnovers (9) than field goals (8).

“It was a very poor start to the second half and then we rebooted a little bit,” Fox said. “But we have to avoid those spurts.”

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Cal’s bench continues to provide very little support. Four reserved combined to play 44 minutes, scoring just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

The Bears are among just seven Division I teams still without a victory.

Cal women win fourth in a row, beat Montana

Kemery Martin scored a game-high 18 points and the Golden Bears held Montana to 23.3-percent shooting in a 65-44 victory at the LMU Thanksgiving Tournament in Los Angeles.

The victory was the fourth in a row for the Bears (5-1), who are off until next Saturday when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in opening round of their four-team Raising the B.A.R. Invitational.

Cal jumped out to a 20-9 first-quarter lead, holding the Grizzlies to 2 for 14 shooting. By the end of three periods, the Bears were in command, leading 53-30.

Martin added eight rebounds and three assists to her stat line but coach Charmin Smith was most pleased with her ability to stretch the defense. She made four 3-pointers and has netted at least three in three of the past four games.

“I’m so glad the shots are falling for Kemery,” said Smith after the sophomore transfer from Utah scored 16 points the day before. “She’s a really good offensive weapon and it’s great to see her getting into a rhythm. I think that’s one of the best things that came out of this weekend. Kemery getting going offensively.”

Jayda Curry shot just 6 for 20 but scored 14 points and became the second-fastest player in program history to reach 500 career points, getting there in 29 games.  WNBA first-round draft pick Kristine Anigwe did it in 25 games.

“Jayda might be the most prolific scorer that we’ve had when you think about guards,” Smith said. “Kristine is a different type of player and she was so dominant on the block. Jayda is doing it in a different way and I’m not surprised. I actually think she could have gotten there a bit sooner, but we are happy for her.”

The Cal women already have three road and neutral-site victories this season, matching their total from a year ago.

Cover photo of Cal center Lars Thiemann by CK Hicks, KLC fotos

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo