BERKELEY -- On the heels of the end to finals week, California (6-3) faced its toughest basketball test Saturday evening at Haas Pavilion, as host to No. 13 Creighton (10-1). While the Bears may have gotten an ‘A’ for effort, the result was a failing grade as they logged their third-straight defeat, falling 74-64, as junior wing Allen Crabbe shot a season-worst 6-for-26 from the floor.
After going nearly two years without a non-conference loss at home, Cal has now lost the last two in Haas Pavilion -- both to ranked teams.
Justin Cobbs (8-for-17 FG, 1-for-3 3PT, 1-for-1 FT) led the Bears with 18 points and Crabbe (6-for-26 FG, 0-for-8 3PT, 2-for-2 FT) chipped in 14 points in the losing effort, but he missed his first 12 shots of the game, not getting on the board until there were 16:55 left in the second half. Cobbs and Crabbe were the only two players to score in double-figures for the Bears.
Sophomore forward David Kravish led all players with 13 boards on the night and received some help on the glass from freshman guard Tyrone Wallace, who pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds of his own to go with eight points.
For Creighton, All-American candidate Doug McDermott led all scorers with 34 points (10-17 FG, 4-7 3PT, 10-10 FT), and nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds. Teammate Gregory Echenique, (10 points, 4-6 FG, 2-4 FT), didn’t score as many points as McDermott, but he did get the double-double with 11 rebounds.
Cal got off to a slow start as the Bluejays opened the game on an 8-0 run. The Bears missed their first eight attempts from the field before Cobbs dished to Kravish for the layup and their first points of the game with 16:16 remaining in the first half.
Neither team did little in the way of scoring in the first nine minutes of the contest, with Creighton leading 11-5 at the 11-minute mark, but the opening half ended with a flurry of points. At the break, the Bluejays held a five-point advantage, 34-29, with both teams still fighting for control of the game.
The two teams combined to shoot 24-for-68 (35.3 percent) from the field, with each making 12 baskets apiece. Creighton, (12-31 FG, 3-11 3PT, 7-10 FT), held a slight efficiency advantage over the Bears, (12-37 FG, 2-8 3PT, 3-6 FT), making 38.7 percent of their shots compared to 32.4 percent for the home team.
Cobbs had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the opening period for the Bears, but it was McDermott that imposed his will with 18 points and three rebounds to pace the action.
Going into the break, head coach Mike Montgomery would have to figure out how to keep his team from getting in further foul trouble. Kravish, Wallace and junior center Richard Solomon went into the locker room with two fouls apiece and guard Ricky Kreklow -- who was not expected to play until just before gametime -- led all players with three personal fouls of his own.
The disparity of calls and non-calls in favor of Creighton eventually led to frustration on the Cal bench and throughout Haas Pavilion. The physicality with which the Bluejays played had fans yelling at officials for calls and the Bears players pleading their case to no avail.
The second half began much like the first half, with neither team able to put any points on the board for the first three minutes of the period.
Crabbe opened the scoring with a soft runner from the paint to bring Cal to within three, 34-31, with 16:55 to go, finally getting a make from the field to give him four points.
Less than two minutes later, the Bluejays extended their lead with a 10-2 run to make the score 44-33 with just 15:02 remaining. The 11-point advantage was the largest of the game to that point, but the Bears wouldn’t back down.
Kravish and Wallace each scored three, and Crabbe made another bucket from the paint to give Cal an 8-0 run and tighten the game to a 44-41 Creighton advantage with 13:21 to play.
With 11:32 left, McDermott began a 9-0 run with the first of three three-point baskets by the Bluejays, as Creighton followed up a 3-for-11 first-half three-point shooting performance with a 5-for-11 second half. Guards Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat followed McDermott’s lead with two more treys -- forcing Montgomery to call a timeout to regroup his team, and giving the Bluejays a 12-point lead, 55-43, with 10:11 left on the clock.
The Creighton lead would extend to 14 points before Cobbs drove the lane for a layup and one – his first points of the second half. Cobbs’ play made the score 57-46 with 8:30 to go.
Down 67-59 with just 1:42 to play, Cobbs again came up big with a three-point bucket to provide hope for the upset, but a minute later, without another point scored and the Bluejays going to the charity stripe after a contested rebound, that hope began to slip away.
With 30.5 seconds remaining, the first of a one-and-one by Manigat put the Bluejays up 68-62. The Creighton guard missed the second attempt and Cobbs drove the lane for a layup to bring the deficit to four points with 23 second to go.
On the play, Cobbs came down hard and hit his head at the base of the goal post -- forcing him to leave the game for good.
Two phantom calls after the score led to fans booing the officials vehemently as they watched their team’s chances slip away. The second of the two calls was a technical foul on Solomon that gave him his fifth of the game and put him on the bench with just eight seconds remaining.
Solomon was the third Cal player to foul out on a phantom call. With 1:54 remaining, Kreklow was called for a foul while standing alone behind the three-point arc. Wallace fouled out with 30 seconds remaining in the game.