Ebene Magazine – Damage Control: Bears win first Utah road win of the season

Ebene Magazine - Damage Control: Bears win first Utah road win of the season

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On March 7, 2019, Cal recorded a real street win over rival Stanford. On February 19, 2020, outside of Berkeley, the bears scored another win against the Washington State Cougars. With more than 20 road losses scattered between those two victories, the Bears have yet to achieve consistent success in uncharted territory. But on Saturday night, Cal head coach Mark Fox’s team resisted that pattern of failure.

The Bears played in Salt Lake City against a Utes squad that had just won a win over Stanford and took a 72- 63 win – her first win outside of Berkeley and the second conference win of the season.

Cal hadn’t won Utah on the road since 2013 – five in a row since then. Last season the Bears took the Utes into overtime and emerged victorious, but the game was played at Berkeley. A 5-2 record at home and a 6-0 record on the road this season confirmed the idea that performances at the Haas Pavilion were at odds with away games.

And given Blue and Gold’s recent battles against Utah and on the streets, the fight started as expected on Saturday night. Cal fell back early 20: 9 and shot only 33% off the field in the first half. Despite a 12-point deficit at halftime, Cal reduced Utah’s lead to just one lead in the middle of the second half.

After senior striker Grant Anticevich caught fire with three direct field goals, the Bears turned that deficit into one 10 point advantage. With just over six and a half minutes in the ball game, Cal finally found his step.

Anticevich finished the race with 14 points and 60% shooting, which was a more than welcome achievement as the outstanding junior guard Matt Bradley was absent. Perhaps more importantly, it signaled Anticevich’s return to form after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in mid-December. He and junior striker Andre Kelly cleared deep as they hit 16 rebounds.

Jarred Hyder, sophomore transfer guard and recently added to the line-up, had a solid, upward performance with 11 points for his efforts could. And while Utes junior striker Timmy Allen alone scored 24 points, Utah wasn’t as solid as the Bears, who had four players in double digits, as opposed to the two Utes.

Of course, having Cal Bradley since then hasn’t helped January 2nd missed due to an ankle injury. There’s no doubt that his presence in Saturday’s win would have strengthened the Bears with a fifth double-digit goalscorer, but blue and gold are finding a new rhythm.

In other words, apart from Cal’s recent road loss, Fox’s team is leaving deal well with the void Bradley left. But if consecutive seasons of 1-10 road records have proven something to fans of blue and gold, the pendulum will swing in their favor at least once a year. Perhaps the stars just aligned on Saturday.

More likely, however, is that Cal will find a new chemistry, a new confidence in his ability to put together a team effort – an effort that didn’t rely on Bradley, one of the top scorers in the Pac-12 before he was injured.

After the Bears return to Berkeley for a home game against UCLA and USC, fans will find out if their Utah performance was just another annual win or if the road didn’t more discouraged.

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