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Cal men hold off UC Davis

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BERKELEY — It’s not often Mark Fox will be OK with his team blowing a big double-digit lead like Cal did against UC Davis. And for the record, it’s not something he wants to get used to, either.

That the Golden Bears made plays down the stretch to win made it a lot easier for Fox to handle.

Paris Austin scored seven of his 12 points over the final 5½ minutes and Cal held off UC Davis 72-66 on Tuesday night.

Matt Bradley scored 19 points, Kareem South had 14 and Grant Anticevich 13 for the Bears (5-2).

“I’m really glad the game got to that point because it was important for us to play in a close game,” Fox said. “We got more out of the finish of that game than we would have had we kept the double-figure lead the whole time, although I wish we would have kept the double-figure lead the whole time.”

Cal led by as much as 18 but went cold in the second half, lost the lead then had to hold off pesky UC Davis in the final moments.

Ezra Manjon’s jumer pulled the Aggies (2-6) within 68-63 with 25 seconds left. After South made one of two free throws for Cal, Elijah Pepper’s 3-pointer for Davis with 13.5 seconds cut the gap to 69-66.

Austin was fouled with 2.2 seconds left and made one of two free throws to seal the win, improving the Bears to 33-0 in the series between the two Northern California schools.

“We probably let them get back in the game.” Anticevich said. “They were hitting a lot of shots and playing hard at the start of the second half. It took a while for us to get going again.”

The uneven win for Cal came after consecutive losses to No. 1 Duke and Texas at the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Manjon had 21 point for UC Davis. Stefan Gonzalez added 15 points and matched his career-high of five 3-pointers. The Aggies have lost five straight.

The Bears had nine turnovers in the first half but made up for it with steady shooting from the perimeter. Cal made five of its first eight 3-pointers and shot better than 65 percent overall in the first half.

Bradley made a pair of 3s sandwiched around one from Anticevich, and South added back-to-back buckets to make it 34-16. Davis closed within 36-25 at halftime on Manjon’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

BIG PICTURE

UC Davis: The Aggies gave the Bears all they could handle and that’s an encouraging sign for a team in the middle of a long road trip. Manjon and Gonzalez form a nice duo on the outside, but UC Davis needs more from leading scorer Matt Neufeld on the inside.

Cal: The Bears seemed headed for a blowout win in the first game back at Haas Pavilion before things got shaky at the end. That’s been a constant theme for Cal so far, and something that Fox will need to address.

ODDS AND ENDS

UC Davis made eight 3-pointers in the second half and had 11 for the game ... The Bears have won seven straight home games dating to last season ... Neufeld shot 3 of 10 and had four rebounds going against Cal’s 7-foot center Lars Thiemann ... The Aggies managed only nine points off 15 turnovers by the Bears.

UP NEXT

UC Davis: The Aggies play at Utah on Friday.

Cal: The Golden Bears play at San Francisco on Dec. 4. Cal has won nine of the last 12 games between the two teams.

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