Bears Implode in Haas Debacle





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Last night's Cal-UCLA basketball game boiled down to just a few discrepancies.

Discrepancies in size. Discrepancies in athleticism. Discrepancies in composure. And one pretty major spelling difference.

The difference between N-I-T and N-C-A-A.

The Bears folded down the stretch for the second straight game, blowing a blowout they had going in the first half to fall to the Bruins, 83-62, before 12,172 at Haas Pavilion.

The defeat - along with similarly embarrassing results at Stanford and Washington State in the past two weeks - effectively ended Cal's tenuous NCAA hopes. Conversely, UCLA kept its similarly slim postseason aspirations alive heading into its Saturday matchup with the Cardinal.

"I know our players are frustrated," Bears coach Ben Braun said. "I need to remind them that they are the same team they were early in the game."

That team looked capable of beating anyone in the Pac-10. The team that succeeded it looked like it didn't belong in a major conference.

Cal (15-12, 6-9 in the Pac-10) trailed the Bruins, 6-4, when point guard Shantay Legans hit a three-pointer to give his team the lead. The Bears didn't stop until they had UCLA down, 31-12, with 8:28 remaining in the half.

Cal was penetrating, dishing and dunking at will, prompting Bruins coach Steve Lavin to switch his team's defense from man-to-man to a matchup zone.

"We weren't playing good defense," Lavin said. "We couldn't stop their penetration. That's why we went to a matchup zone, to keep people in front of us and put a hand in their face."

"You usually don't do that when you're down 19, but there hasn't been much usual about this season. It worked pretty well for the last 30 minutes."

Both of those claims were understatements. UCLA (16-11, 7-8) has confounded onlookers with its mix of talent and inconsistency, and the Bruins certainly dominated the final three-fourths of the game.

UCLA proceeded to go on a 18-4 run to close the half after Braun called a timeout with 8:07 left. The Bears had trouble penetrating and setting up their offense against the stingy Bruins zone, and rushed shots only compounded the problem.

"We took some quick shots, and we didn't make them play defense," Braun said. "We allowed them to come back very quickly, (and) the baskets they got down the stretch were very easy."

After some back-and-forth play early in the second half, UCLA broke open the game with a 12-3 run to build a nine-point lead with 9:28 left in the game.

By that time, Cal was panicking, and wasn't able to pull within five points for the rest of the game.

"When people take quick shots, it's a sign they're starting to panic or (trying to) get quick points," Braun said. "I think we were (also) tired - a couple guys took quick shots out of fatigue."

During the Bruins' run, center Dan Gadzuric proved to be a question the Bears could not solve. He grabbed 16 boards - including six offensive boards, which he converted into six second-chance points - and a career-high 22 on 9-of-12 shooting.

Gadzuric was also a monster on defense, blocking four shots and denying Cal any low-post offense in the second half.

"I wasn't pleased with how we contained Dan Gadzuric," Braun said. "That was a bigger key than anything."

Gadzuric helped UCLA control the paint for the final 30 minutes of the game. The Bruins shot 63 percent in the second half to the Bears' 28.6 percent, and finished with a 54.5 percent clip to Cal's 35.9 percent mark. UCLA also outrebounded the Bears, 45-29.

The Bruins got it done from the perimeter too. Freshman sensation Jason Kapono finished with 20 points after going 5-for-7 from behind the arc.

Forward Sean Lampley gave the Bears their only consistent offense in the second half. Ten of his 22 points came after the break, but most of them came outside the paint. Lampley was also held to five rebounds, which was tied for best on his team.

"It's not something I would have imagined could happen to us," the junior said. "I took some quick shots, as well as the team."

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