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Cal win NIT first round over Utah Valley
By Greg Bridges

Cal CobbsBerleley, Calif.  3/21/14 -- The California Golden Bears opened play in the 2014 National Invitational Tournament with a solid 77-64 victory over the Utah Valley Wolverines despite missing the impact of one of their most consistent players, 6ʼ10” senior forward Richard Solomon, who was ruled out of tonightʼs game with a concussion.

Filling the void created by Solomonʼs absence long armed 6ʼ9” junior forward David Kravish established a commanding presence for the Golden Bears (20-13), finishing the night with 5 intimidating blocks and 10 rebounds to go along with a team high 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting. After scoring Calʼs 2nd basket of the night Kravish sent the message that there would be no layups as he fouled Utah Valleyʼs Holton Hunsaker while attempting to block the 6-foot guardʼs shot on a drive to the basket.

Utah Valley (20-12), winners of the Western Athletic Conferenceʼs regular season title, stayed close throughout most of the first half, thanks to the inside - outside senior duo center Ben Arid and guard Holton Hunsaker who combined for 21 of the Wolverines 34 first half points.

Hunsakerʼs game-high 22 points included 5 made 3 pointers, while he also added 4 assists. Arid finished the night with 19 points and 9 rebounds.

The teams exchanged leads briefly before Cal began to pull away when a Kravish layup that gave the Golden Bears a 25-23 lead. Buckets by freshman reserve guard Sam Singer, Kravish, and sophomore 6ʼ5” swingman Tyrone Wallace extended Calʼs lead to 7 points which would soon become a 43-32 gong into the locker room.

While stretching their lead to as much as 18 points in the second half, the Bears received welcome contributions from 6ʼ6” freshman Jabari Bird who was inserted into the starting lineup with the absence of Solomon, adding 11 points on 50% shooting from the floor. The seldom-used senior reserve Jeff Powers pitched in 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench.

The 77-64 win advanced the Bears to the second round of the NIT where theyʼll face number 3 seed Arkansas Razorbacks Monday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. The Bears and the Razorbacks last faced off in Novemberʼs Maui Classic where the Bears staked an 85-77 win.

Notes:  
Cal Golden Bears defeated Utah Valley to Advance To 2nd Round of the NIT. Cal has advanced to the post season in each of Mike Montgomeryʼs six seasons as head coach.
The Utah Valley Wolverines were making their 1st appearance in the NIT, and just their 2nd appearance in post season play. They played in the CIT in 2012.

 

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