The California Golden Bears moved to 3-1 on the young season with an 83-76 win over Northeastern in the championhip game of the annual Golden Bear Classic. Sophomore DeVon Hardin was tremendous for the Bears, posting his third straight double-double. He was named the GBC MVP for his performance in the two-day tournament.
One day after overwhelming Northern Colorado by 24 points, Cal found themselves in a fierce battle with the previously undefeated Huskies for the GBC crown. The Bears scored the final seven points of the first half to take a 35-34 lead.
In the second half, Cal used an early push from junior point guard Ayinde Ubaka to take a five point lead. A native of nearby Oakland, Ubaka has blossomed during his 3rd season in Berkeley. Along with posting a career-high 21 points, Ubaka had 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.
"I worked hard in the offseason to get heathly, it has translated onto the court," Ubaka stated. "If you are not confident, you are going to mess up. That was how I was freshman year. I was hesistant, I wasn't sure of myself."
Hardin was even better. With senior forward Rod Benson out with soreness in his heel and sophomore Leon Powe still out one more game, Hardin came up with his third straight monster performance. After posting 23 points and 14 rebounds in tonight's win, Hardin has now posted 58 points and 34 rebounds in Cal's third consecutive home win.
"Focus, that's the biggest difference between this year and last for me," stated the enormously athletic Hardin. "One thing coach told me the other day is that I'm not a freshman no more and I have to step my game up. My knowledge of the court is a lot better, I'm playing with a lot more confidence. My skill level overall is much better than last year. Ayinde talked to me every night telling me that I'm better
than Leon (jokingly)."
Northeastern's extremely talented senior point guard Jose Juan Barea kept the Huskies clawing all night. Barea dished another 9 assists against the Bears while also dropping in 26 points. A night after swatting 10 blocked shots, NU sophomore center Shawn James tossed aside another 6 blocks against the Bears. He also scored 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Senior Huskies shooting guard Aaron Davis added 15 points.
Cal senior shooting guard Richard Midgley scored 14 points for the Bears while sophomore wing Omar Wilkes also had double-figures with 10 points.
"Barea hit some offly tough shots, but Ayinde kept digging in," said Coach Braun, seeing his team win back-to-back GBC titles. "Devon is gaining confidence, he's becoming more aggresive. He's working hard for position. He's taking his time now. Our team showed a lot of fiath in DeVon and we called his number a lot tonight."
I'm proud of our effort tonight," concluded Coach Braun. "It was a pretty good basketball game. If I wasn't a coach I would've enjoyed it more."
A.W Prince is the senior writer and publisher of BearTerritory.net. He pens a west coast basketball article entitled "The Weekly Spin" for all Bay Area basketball programs, plus numerous other recruiting features on some of the most talented and highly sought after student-athletes in the country. Along with the "The Weekly Spin", Prince has made radio appearances with Rivals Radio and Bay Area college basketball pre-game, halftime, and post-game in-season shows.