California Tops UC Riverside In Season Opener, 78-61

Nov. 12, 2004

AP Sports Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. - Reserve David Paris had career-highs of 16 points and eight rebounds in California's 78-61 win over UC Riverside in the firstround of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Thursday night in the season openerfor both teams.

Paris, a 6-foot-8 junior, had scored seven points three times and had acareer scoring average of 1.6 points entering this season. He shot 5-of-7 fromthe floor, 6-for-6 at the free throw line, passed for four assists, and was abright spot inside for the Golden Bears with injured star Leon Powe on thesideline in street clothes.

Cal struggled to control the boards, but made up for it with a strongperimeter game, aggressive play in the paint and an up-tempo offense. The Bearsnever trailed and jumped out to a huge lead early.

Freshman Eric Vierneisel had 12 points, making all four of his 3-pointtries.

The Bears, who started three freshmen and a sophomore most of last season,got at least eight points from five other players and hope to have enoughscorers to make up for Powe's absence.

Powe had reconstructive surgery on his left knee in September and isexpected to miss the entire season. The Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last seasonand the conference's leading rebounder, he led the Bears with 15.1 points and9.5 rebounds per game.

Larry Cunningham had 18 points to lead UC Riverside, which lost startingcenter Klaus Schille to his fifth foul with 15:49 left after getting eightpoints and five rebounds.

Vili Morton, the Highlanders' lone returning starter, had 10 points and 14rebounds. UC Riverside is picked to finish last in the Big West Conference bythe coaches and media and has had its share of problems on the road, going 3-13away from home last season.

Cal will play Friday night against Saint Mary's, a 67-58 winner over Belmontearlier Thursday, with a chance to advance to the tournament semifinals nextweek at Madison Square Garden in New York.

There are three other regions for the 16-team field - in Syracuse, N.Y.;Birmingham, Ala.; and Memphis, Tenn.

UC Riverside will play the early consolation game Friday against Belmont.

Cal shot 45 percent in the first half and broke open the game with a 19-4run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Vierneisel. The Bears built a 39-17halftime lead despite getting outrebounded 23-17.

This was the Bears' earliest season opener in school history. They began the2000-01 season on Nov. 13, 2000, against Mississippi State in the PreseasonNIT.