Bears Use Bench to Smother Aggies

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After a weekend where it looked like the Cal men's basketball team had no scoring options, the Bears returned to Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night to show that they have more scoring threats than once thought.

With career highs of 12 and six points from Bak Bak and Nigel Carter as well as some improved shooting from Gary Franklin, the Bears nicely disseminated their scoring to trump UC Davis 74-62 on Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion. The victory improves Cal's all-time record against UC Davis to 31-0.

The bench pitched in 27 points, far and away its best outing of the season, and the shots finally fell after a weekend of misses.

"The bench saved us tonight," head coach Mike Montgomery said. "Between Bak and Nigel ... (Richard) Solomon came in to have seven points and six boards; those three guys were our better players."

Using a strong second half and some timely perimeter shooting, the Bears were able to separate themselves despite some intermittent scares from a scrappy, fast Davis squad. The Aggies cut Cal's lead to as few as four in the second half, but seemingly everybody pitched in to avoid an the first home loss of the season.

The Aggies played the beginning of the game quickly, pushing the ball up the floor and initially keeping the Cal defenders off balance. Notre Dame transfer Joe Harden, who led all scorers with 27 points, caused problems for the Bears' defense with smooth outside shooting and strong dribble penetration.

"They push it," Montgomery said. "We didn't do a very good job in the first half in particular. They've got four guys that can handle the ball. All four of their guys can push it out. They hit some threes in transition when we were not back."

Davis exposed Cal's struggles with transition defense early in the game, but the Bears tightened up when it mattered, rattling off an 11-0 run midway through the second half to seal the Aggies' fate.

After a miserable time shooting at the Old Spice Classic, Franklin took more disciplined shots and finished four for eight shooting on the night and 13 points. Still sporting a red eye after being poked in the first game against Temple, Franklin admitted he was more comfortable returning home.

"Yesterday I shot 100 free throws and I shot an hour after everybody left," Franklin said. "I was just trying to go back to my mechanics and shoot the way that I had been shooting in high school."

The Bears also received some nice play inside the post from both Bak and Markhuri Sanders-Frison, who combined 11-11 shooting and 22 points.

"Coach told me after Orlando not to be scared to make mistakes because every basketball player makes mistakes," Bak said. "Especially when we were in Orlando I was kind of nervous; I didn't really know what to do. I didn't know how much it was affecting me until Coach informed me about it."

The Bears travel to Ames, Iowa this weekend to take on Iowa State in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Iowa State lost its first game of the season on Wednesday night to last year's Cinderella tournament team, Northern Iowa.


Gabriel Baumgaertner covers men's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]

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