BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Even as his team has raced out to its best start in four years, California coach Mark Fox has been critical of his team’s defense. Against Prairie View A&M, it was the Golden Bears offense that caught Fox’s ire.
For good reason. The Bears had 22 turnovers and went seven minutes without scoring in the second half before holding on at the end.
“We were poorly coached and I thought we played poorly. Two wrongs make a wrong,” Fox said after Cal beat Prairie View A&M 54-50 on Monday night. “We were fortunate to escape with a win but we have to play better basketball than we played today.”
The Bears start is their best since winning their first four in 2015-16, and it has come in Fox’s first season in Berkeley.
But Cal’s mistake-filled game against Prairie View A&M was evidence that there is still a long, long way to go.
“Things weren’t really going our way, a lot of charge calls, a lot of just careless plays, said Cal’s Matt Bradley, who scored eight of his 16 points late in the second half. “Nothing was going our way offensively, defensively but we stuck it out. We’re 4-0. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Bradley scored eight of his 16 points late in the second half to help the Bears (4-0) remain unbeaten in Fox’s first season.
Grant Anticevich added 13 points and six rebounds for the Bears. Anticevich’s 3-pointer put Cal ahead 52-48 with 2:40 remaining.
Chancellor Ellis scored for Prairie View A&M to make it 52-50 but the Panthers missed numerous chances down the stretch. Ellis missed a 3-point shot and Dajuan Madden was called for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen with 8.3 seconds remaining.
“Because we had been so good offensively we felt like we could just shoot our way to victory,” Fox said. “You have to do more things than just shoot jumpers to win. I felt like that was our mentality offensively and that’s not how you win. I felt we had a little bit of an immature approach offensively.”
Ellis and Faite Williams scored 12 points apiece for Prairie View A&M (1-4).
The Panthers went nearly nine minutes without scoring in the second half. Darius Williams broke up an inbounds pass and made a buzzer-beating shot just before halftime to end the drought.
Prairie View A&M: The Panthers are essentially in the midst of an 11-game road trip so a lack of focus from time to time is understandable. But in spite of shooting 38%, they were close at the end. The key moving forward will be learning how to finish, something that was a problem against Texas as well.
California: After what happened the past two seasons the Bears will take wins whatever way they can get them. Still, this will be one that will cause Fox some heartburn as he studies the film. They’ve got to clean things up quick, too, with Duke up next.
Prairie View A&M: Play Georgia State in a game being held at California State Baptist on Friday.
California: The Golden Bears play No. 2 Duke in Madison Square Garden in the 2K Empire Classic semifinals on Thursday.
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