The California Golden Bears survived a sloppy performance Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion, defeating Louisiana Tech 68-59 in front of a small crowd announced as 8,129. The Bears improved to 5-1 on the season with their 24th straight home win. Tech fell to 3-3.
Ivan Rabb recorded a double-double with a career best 25 points and 13 rebounds. Charlie Moore chipped in with 19 points while frequently looking very much like a freshman. Moore turned it over five times. With Kam Rooks out, Kingsley Okoroh played 40 minutes and contributed nine points and a career high 12 boards.
Following the game, Okoroh said, "Yeah, I was surprised on how much I played. I was a bit tired."
Cal shot 41.3% (26 of 63) for the game, and held the visitors to just 27.3% shooting (18 of 66). Neither team was effective from outside the arc. Cal was 3 of 18, and Louisiana Tech was 4 of 17.
"I thought it would be tough, but I didn't think it would be that tough," said Coach Cuonzo Martin. "I knew they were physical, athletic, strong, they defend you, they speed you up."
Cal was not playing particularly well, but still led by nine points late in the first half. The visiting Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run to finish the half, and it was Cal by 31-29 at the intermission. Cal missed all six of their three-point shots in the opening half. Rabb's 16 points were the primary reason that the Bears went to the locker room with the lead.
Louisiana Tech opened the second half with a hoop to tie the score, and eventually tool a three-point lead when Erik McCree nailed a trey from the left wing with 13:21 to play in the game. Martin called a time-out, and after a Rabb jumper, Cal switched to a 2-3 zone. The zone paid immediate dividends, and a 6-0 run by the Bears regained the advantage.
"It worked because we spent time with it," said Martin. "Maybe that's what it takes for me to play it more, but Ivan got in foul trouble and we had no choice. I thought we did a good job with it."
The Bulldogs went nearly seven minutes without a field goal, and Cal took control. The Bears led 47-42, but the Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run and regained the lead. Moore hit a big three from the right wing to put Cal up 52-50 at the 3:35 mark, but Jacobi Boykins countered with a trey of his own. Moore hit another bomb after an offensive board by Okoroh, and it appeared that the home team might win in regulation.
"We talked as a staff, at some point he'll (Moore) be a freshman," said the coach. "I thought he looked like that, then I looked at the stats and he had 19 points."
The Bulldogs tied it up with a pair of free throws. Sam Singer drove and hit a tough jumper to put Cal up 57-55, but McCree drove and tied it again, forcing overtime when Singer missed a difficult effort in the lane.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the extra session, but then Cal took control. Except for a trey by Grant Mullins that gave them the lead for good, the Bears did their damage from the free throw line. Rabb made five of six at the line, and Moore added three of four.
Cal out-scored the Bulldogs 11-2 in overtime to secure the win. The Bears dominated the inside, with 40 points in the paint to just 20 for Louisiana Tech.
Cal once again played without Jabari Bird, and they clearly missed his shot making in this game. There was no word on when he might return to the lineup.