Cal Basketball: Bears Held to Lowest Point Total in 32 Years in Loss to UCLA

Matt Bradley (20) led Cal in scoring with 17 points.Photo by Richard Mackson - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Cal has struggled to score points this season, and Sunday's 50-40 loss to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion was the most notable example.

The 40 points were a season low for the Bears (8-10, 2-3 Pac-12), whose previous low was 52 points. In fact, it was Cal's lowest scoring total in 32 years, since it lost to Washington State 59-37 on Jan. 14, 1988.

Against UCLA on Sunday, the Bears were shooting less than 30 percent from the field until the closing minutes, finishing at 30.4 percent from the floor while making just 3-of-17 from three-point range.

"I thought UCLA's defense was very good," Cal coach Mark Fox said. "We had a hard time scoring the ball. When you're not making threes, you have to be able manufacture points from the plays. We weren't good enough in the paint and we didn't get to the foul line, so we had a hard time scoring, and credit UCLA's defense."

The Bears were still in the game in the second half and even had a one-point lead with 16:55 left in the game. But the Bears then went 11 minutes without scoring a point. By the time Cal scored again UCLA (9-9, 2-3) had scored 14 straight points to take control of the game.'

"We got to make some shots," Fox said. "You got to put the ball in the basket. We didn't shoot it well. We got to make some shots."

The Bears did not attempt a free throw until just 4:35 remained in the second half. Cal also remained winless away from home, losing all eight games not played in Haas Pavilion.

Matt Bradley led the Bears in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 2-for-9 on three-pointers.

"I thought it was pretty rough," Bradley said in assessing his performance. "I wish I had come more ready to play. I feel like my preparation wasn't really there. 

"I missed a lot of rebounds I should have got that cost us.  I should have been more aggressive at the rim. I should have looked to my teammates a little more when my shot wasn't falling. I could have played a lot better defense. Just all-around [I could have played] a way better game. All fixable, which I'm not too made about. But, yeah, definitely could do better."

Chris Smith led UCLA with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. UCLA shot just 41.3 percent and was just 4-of-16 from behind the three-point line.

Typically, when you hold an opponent to 50 points, you have a good chance to win. But this was not Cal's day.

Pregame: UCLA came into Sunday's game having lost three in a row, leaving the Bruins with an 8-9 record, including 1-3 in the Pac-12. Cal entered Sunday's play 8-9 overall and 2-2 in the conference, and the Bears were still looking for their first win away from home following Thursday's 32-point loss at USC.

But Pauley Pavilion is not the scary place for visiting teams that it once was. Before facing Cal, UCLA had lost four games at Pauley Pavilion this season, and that included losses to Hofstra and Cal State Fullerton.

The Bruins are 149th in the NCAA's NET rankings as of Sunday morning, which puts them last among Pac-12 teams and one spot behind Cal, which is 148th.

Cal starting lineup: Matt Bradley, Kareem South, Lars Thiemann, Joel Brown, Grant Anticevich

Game action

15:51 first quarter: UCLA takes an early 4-3 lead as Cal starts 1-for-5 from the field. The Bears' only score was a Matt Bradley three-pointer. UCLA 4, Cal 3.

10:35 first half: Cal made just two of its first 12 shots, but the Bears are still close. Jalen Hill has nine points for UCLA. UCLA 11, Cal 7.

7:58 first half: The Bears are now 4-for-17 from the field, but UCLA can't break away as both teams struggle to score. UCLA 16, Cal 9.

6:40 first half: UCLA and Cal continue to slog it out offensively. UCLA 18, Cal 11.

3:12 first half: Cal has just 15 point but the Bears are in the game. Bradley has nine points for Cal. Hill has 11 points for UCLA. UCLA 20, Cal 15

Halftime: People who want to criticize Pac-12 basketball can cite this first half as an example of the conference's shortcomings. Cal shot 32.3 percent from the field, made 1 of 8 three-point shots, did not attempt a single free throw and scored just 21 points in the first 20 minutes, but the Bears trail by just a point. Bradley has nine points for Cal and Hill has 11 for the Bruins. UCLA 22, Cal 21.

15:27 second half: Cal takes leads of 23-22 and 25-24, but a three-point play (the old-fashioned way) by Chris Smith puts the Bruins back in front. UCLA 27, Cal 25.

11:35 second half: Cal is now 1-for-13 on three-point shots for the game, and the Bruins are making a little run. UCLA 33, Cal 25.

7:49 second half: Cal has scored just four points in the second half so far, missing 14 of 16 shots. A three-point shot by UCLA's Smith gave the Bruins a double-digit lead, and they continue to extend the margin. UCLA 38, Cal 25.

6:51 second half: Cal has gone more than 10 minutes without scoring. UCLA 38, Cal 25.

3:44 second half: Cal attempted its first free throw of the game with 4:35 left in the second half. UCLA 41, Cal 30.

Final: UCLA 50, Cal 40