Cal Drops Tour Finale At Leverkusen
LEVERKUSEN, Germany – Senior center Lars Thiemann scored 14 points against his former team, but California fell short in its final preseason foreign tour exhibition with an 85-59 loss to Bayer Giants Leverkusen on Saturday at Ostermann Arena.
An early 11-0 deficit put the Golden Bears in a hole that they were never able to get out of as Leverkusen raced out to a 26-10 advantage by the end of the first quarter. Thiemann and freshman Grant Newell (11 points) led Cal in scoring while Devin Askew added nine points and a team-high four assists. Four Bears – Joel Brown, Kuany Kuany, ND Okafor and Sam Alajiki – grabbed four rebounds apiece as Cal tied Leverkusen on the boards, 33-33.
"We played like a team that's been on the road for about 10 days," Cal head coach Mark Fox said. "We got (physically out-played) by an older group and learned some great lessons. I thought it was a game that was really good for us; (Leverkusen is) bigger, they're older. We have to learn how to play against big, physical teams and we didn't play as well tonight as we need to play in situations like this. It's a great day to learn that lesson."
A 6-0 run by the Bears – two free throws apiece by Thiemann and Monty Bowser, along with a layup by Thiemann – pulled them within 15, 40-25, late in the second quarter. Leverkusen led 46-26 at halftime and pulled away for good with a 24-point third quarter.
Five different Bears knocked down a 3-pointer, including two apiece by Alajiki and Newell. Cal was collectively 14-for-20 at the free throw line.
The Bears finished 1-1 in their preseason foreign tour with a 30-point victory (92-62) coming against Spirou Basket in Charleroi, Belgium two days ago. Their tour-opening contest against the Chinese National Team in Noisy-le-Grand, France was canceled.
"I thought the trip was great for us," Fox said about his team's 10-day foreign tour. "It enabled so many guys to play (and for) us to play different combinations. We put more value in everyone getting opportunities than we did into the cohesiveness of who's on the court. We needed experiences, we needed the new guys to get lots of minutes – we got all of that. There's so much that we're excited about from the trip, even though we didn't play well tonight. There's a lot of great things that we'll take home from this trip."
Thiemann, a native of nearby Krefeld, was a member of the Giants' "Pro-B" championship squad in 2018-19 prior to joining Cal ahead of the 2019-20 collegiate season. Saturday's exhibition saw Thiemann play in front of his immediate family as well as nearly three dozen friends and extended family members.
Cal returns to Berkeley from Europe on Monday, Aug. 22.
Cal: 10-16-11-22 – 59
Leverkusen: 26-20-24-15 – 85
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