Cal Basketball: Bears Crushed by Santa Clara

Jeff Faraudo

A bad week ended for the Cal basketball team with a loss that matches the Bears' biggest margin of defeat ever against Santa Clara.

The Bears (5-4) fell 71-52 at Leavey Center on Saturday afternoon, their fourth defeat in five games after a 4-0 start.

The 19-point losing matches the largest in a century-old series. Santa Clara beat Cal 42-23 back on Jan. 27, 1931.

Santa Clara (9-2) beat Cal for the first time since the 1993-94 season, just three days after USF knocked off the Bears for the first time since 1997-98.

First-year coach Mark Fox, in the video below, says he didn't merely anticipate a rough patch like this but he knew it would happen with a team that won just 8 games each of the past two seasons.

Santa Clara used a 20-4 run to forge a 40-28 halftime and Cal got no closer than 8 points in the second half.

Matt Bradley scored 14 points to lead Cal but shot 4-for-15 and was whistled for a technical foul. Bradley, who led the Pac-12 in 3-point field-goal percentage a year ago, was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

Bradley talks about what the Bears must do to get back on track:

The Bears shot a season-low 28.6 percent from the field and were 3-for-13 from the 3-point arc. Cal also had 17 turnovers and was out rebounded 39-31.

Guglielmo Caruso led Santa Clara with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Santa Clara won despite 20 turnovers.

HERB SENDEK PRAISES FOX: Afterward, Broncos coach Herb Sendek went to lengths to compliment the Bears' first-year coach.

"There's nobody in coaching that I have more respect for than Coach Fox," said Sendek, who is in his fourth season as Broncos coach and has a Division I career record of 467-348. "He's the kind of guy where if you have a son, you want him to play for him because it's going to be about so much more than wins and losses.

"The young men on his team are going to have a constant example of a great role model, an excellent teacher. Not just about Xs and Os in basketball but about life. He does things the right way and he represents so much of what is good about college basketball.

"It's great to have him back on the sideline this year, having this opportunity at Cal. I've always been a big fan and will continue to be so."

PRE-GAME: Three days removed from a road loss to USF, Cal is out of town again this afternoon to play another West Coast Conference opponent.

The Bears (5-3) are facing Santa Clara (8-2) on the road for the first time since the 1992-93 season when they were equipped with the likes of Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray.

Cal is 1-1 vs. WCC teams this season, having beaten Pepperdine 87-71 in its opener before losing 76-64 at San Francisco. The Bears play a fourth WCC foe a week from today at home when they tackle Saint Mary's.

STARTING LINEUP: Coach Mark Fox making two changes in his starting lineup today, going with senior Paris Austin at point guard in place of freshman Joel Brown, and sophomore Andre Kelly at center in place of freshman Lars Thiemann. Otherwise: G Matt Bradley, G Kareem South and F Grant Anticevich.

15:52 1st H: Bears aren't shooting well or rebounding. Cal is 3-for-10 from the field and hasn't been able to keep forward Guglielmo Caruso off the boards. The Santa Clara sophomore has two offensive rebounds and has scored seven points. Santa Clara 9, Cal 7.

8:23 1st H: Cal warming up but Caruso continues to be hot for the Broncos. He has 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 of them at the offensive end. Anticevich has 5 points to lead Cal, which is shooting 33 percent (7-for-21). Santa Clara, 19, Cal 18.

4:52 1st H: Suddenly, the Broncos are in charge. They are on a 12-2 run as Cal has gone more than 3 1/2 minutes without a field goal. Bears shooting 7-for-23 with 6 turnovers. Santa Clara 31 Cal 20. 

2:20 1st H: The Broncos' run is now 20-4. Santa Clara doing what USF did on Tuesday night - scorching the Cal defense from the perimeter. Santa Clara is 4-for-8 on threes and is shooting 55 percent overall. Cal at 32 percent. Santa Clara 39, Cal 22.

HALFTIME: Santa Clara 40, Cal 28. Cal in serious jeopardy of losing to Santa Clara for the first time since the 1993-94 season, when the teams met twice and split. Guglielmo Caruso scored 13 points and the Broncos outrebounded the Bears 22-16 in the opening 20 minutes. Santa Clara made four 3-pointers but also outscored Cal 22-8 in the paint. Cal shot 34.6 percent from the field, was 2-for-7 on threes and just 8-for-12 on free throws. Bradley has 8 points and Anticevich 7 to lead the Bears. 

15:51 2nd H: Cal still shooting a woeful 33 percent, including 2-for-10 by Matt Bradley. Bears don't seem intent on making a serious move. Not yet anyway. Santa Clara 43. Cal 33.

11:58 2nd H: The Broncos are one point shy of equaling their largest lead of the afternoon (39-22). Santa Clara shooting 49 percent, Cal under 32 percent. The Bears are down big despite SCU coughing up 15 turnovers. Santa Clara 53, Cal 37.