Bears Drop Season-Opener To UC San Diego
BERKELEY – Jordan Shepherd tied his career-high with 27 points in his Cal debut and senior Andre Kelly had 17 points and 12 rebounds, but the Cal men's basketball team dropped its season-opener 80-67 to UC San Diego on Tuesday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.
Junior guard Joel Brown added 10 points for the Bears, who opened up an early 12-point lead but couldn't sustain it.
Shepherd, a graduate transfer from Charlotte, drained four 3-pointers and added four rebounds to match his best scoring effort as a collegian. He also had 27 points against Valparaiso in 2019.
"I don't think we played to our strengths or our identity at all," Kelly said. "We just have to be sharper. It was the first time with this group together. We'll bounce back. We'll respond the right way."
Jarred Hyder's two free throws with 12:53 remaining in the first half gave Cal an 18-6 lead and the Bears still led 31-22 with 4:05 to go before the intermission. But a 7-0 run by the Tritons put them back in it, and it took Shepherd's 3-pointer with four seconds left to put the Bears up 37-33 heading into the break.
Shepherd's 3-pointer with 13:22 to play gave Cal its last lead at 48-47. UCSD followed with a 11-0 run and never trailed by less than seven points the rest of the way.
"I'm very disappointed in our team's play today," Cal head coach Mark Fox said. "Obviously, I didn't have them ready to go. Give (UC San Diego) credit – they outplayed us. It's my responsibility to get it cleaned up and make sure this doesn't define our season."
The Bears will next travel to UNLV for their first road game of the season Saturday at 5 p.m. The contest will air on Stadium.