BERKELEY -- California (2-0) continued its dominance of non-conference opponents at home (31-3) during the Mike Montgomery era with their victory over Pepperdine (0-2), 79-62, Tuesday night at Haas Pavilion.
Junior wing Allen Crabbe continued right where he left off from on Sunday, scoring the first points of the game on an easy jumper from the top of the key. His next shot -- a long three-point attempt from four feet beyond the arc, circled the rim and fell out. His second miss came on his next attempt -- a twisting layup from the baseline. Crabbe would go on to miss five straight attempts after his first deuce to begin the game, but the Bears had another weapon in their arsenal.
Cal turned to guard Justin Cobbs for offensive firepower in the first half, and the 6-foot-3 junior obliged by putting the Bears on his back, scoring 14 of Cal's first 20 points by hitting six of his first seven shots, including two from beyond the arc.
After a well-timed outlet pass from sophomore wing Ricky Kreklow -- playing his first game as a Bear after sitting out a year as a transfer from Missouri and then having a screw placed in his fifth metatarsal to repair a stress reaction on Oct. 8 -- led to a Crabbe trey to finish the first half, Crabbe took the reins right back from Cobbs to finish with a career-high 33 points (10-of-18, 4-for-7 3PT, 9-9 FT), three assists and six rebounds, while Cobbs finished with 23 points (10-15, 3-4 3PT), five rebounds and a game-high five assists on the night.
"Obviously, Crabbe is a pro," said Waves head coach Marty Wilson. "He will be making a lot of money next year, sorry for Cal fans, but he is going to be making a lot of money. He has great poise, he shoots the ball as well as anybody I have seen. Cobbs hurt us in a way we didn't expect, especially early in the first half. Shooting threes, he got into a rhythm. It's a great duo between the two guys, and they can hurt you in a number of ways."
The Bears shot 44.8 percent from the floor (30-for-67), and 50 percent from beyond the three-point line (8-for-16), while the Waves shot 45.5 percent from the floor (25-for-55) and 40 percent from long distance (6-for--15).
After the Bears went up by 10, 27-17, with 8:13 remaining in the first half, Pepperdine went on a four-point run that took 4:41 of play to decrease the Bears' lead to 27-21 with 3:56 left. During the excruciating four-plus minutes, both teams committed fouls, turnovers, and inexplicably missed shots that would normally be automatic makes.
The pace picked up over the last four minutes in favor of Cal.
The Waves, who did not hold a lead during the game, continued to close in on the Bears' advantage -- getting to within three, 29-26, with a Lorne Jackson three-point make at the 2:15 mark of the first half.
Those would be the last points Pepperdine would score in the opening half.
After starting the night cold, Crabbe began to heat up as the first half came to a close. On an assist from junior big man Richard Solomon, Crabbe got a dunk to break the 4-0 Pepperdine run. A minute later, Kreklow snagged a rebound and ran the break by passing to Crabbe, who stopped short of the arc and launched his third three-point attempt for the score to put the Bears up by eight with 46 seconds before the half.
"Ironically, I thought that the pass that Kreklow made to him got him going," Montgomery said. "It was nothing more than good basketball. He drove right at the guy and came to a two-foot stop and delivered right on time. Allen got a rhythm shot and dropped it and scored five right before the buzzer. It's important for us to move the ball. I thought that, at times, we were trying to make home-run passes. That's just not what is going to make us successful. It's the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the pass that scores the ball that we want. When we made multiple passes, we were much more efficient on offense."
As the clock wound down, Crabbe passed on a shot and instead helped Cobbs to add to his game-leading 18 points for the half with an electrifying dunk just before the buzzer.
At the break, the Bears, for the second time, held their largest lead against the Waves -- 36-26.
For Pepperdine, two players scored in double digits -- the senior, Jackson, with 10 points (4-10, 2-7 3PT) and true freshman forward Stacy Davis with 13 (5-8, 3-5 FT).
The pace quickened to begin the second half with the Waves taking a slight advantage in the action. The Waves outpaced the Bears 9-7 over the first three minutes and got to within five points before Cobbs again stepped in and sank another three-point bucket to keep Cal up 43-35 at the 16:57 mark. Guard Brandon Smith found an open Cobbs on the left perimeter and after the swift pass, the junior hit nothing but net.
The Waves would never again threaten, nor would they ever get any closer than the eight-point disadvantage. The Bears would eventually take the lead into double figures and maintain it after the 12:36 mark the rest of the way. Cal reached their largest lead - 20 points with 5:45 remaining - on the strength of a 9-0 run that began with two free throws by Crabbe, and culminated with an easy layup by Cobbs.
Garbage time ensued.
-- Kreklow got his first action as a Bear. The sophomore flashed a bit of former Bear, Jorge Gutierrez diving for balls and playing with grit. He finished the ight with three points (1-4 3PT), four rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 17 minutes of play.
"We pushed the doc in order to try to get him some minutes," Montgomery said of Kreklow. "He's practiced. We certainly could have waited until the next game, but we felt like we wanted to try to give him some limited minutes just to get him on the court and see what that was going to feel like."
-- Crabbe's career-high of 33 points bested his previous high of 30 points from his freshman year -- against Washington State Jan. 11, 2011.