Bryson Scores 23 but Gauchos Fall at No. 14 Cal, 85-67

Michael Bryson scored 23 points in his season debut Monday at Cal.  (Photo by Shane Roper)
Michael Bryson scored 23 points in his season debut Monday at Cal. (Photo by Shane Roper)

BERKELEY, Calif. – Michael Bryson scored 23 points in his season debut Monday night but it wasn't enough as UC Santa Barbara fell at No. 14 Cal, 85-67. 

Bryson missed the Gauchos (1-1) opener at Nebraska-Omaha on Friday as he served a one-game suspension for playing in a non-sanctioned summer league game. On Monday, he made 8-of-18 field goal attempts, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. He was happy to be back, but not completely satisfied. 

"It was good to be on the court playing with my teammates again," Bryson said. "But it would have been a lot more satisfying to come away with a win." 

UCSB missed its first six shots from the field and struggled with its shooting for much of the first half. The Golden Bears (2-0) ended the half on a 9-0 run to turn a 10-point game into a 47-28 lead.

The Gauchos crept back into the game over the first 6:21 of the second half and when Bryson made a long three-pointer from the right side the lead was down to 12, 56-44. 

But Cal's ability to penetrate and score or get to the free throw line proved too much to overcome an a 13-3 run, capped by a thunderous slam dunk by Jaylen Brown, extended the advantage to 69-47 and Santa Barbara never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.

"I didn't think we handled their length very well," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "But that is a very good basketball team. They're versatile, can score inside-and-out, and they make it very difficult to score inside." 

The Golden Bears finished with five players scoring in double-figures, led by point guard Tyrone Wallace with 24. Brown added 17 and Jordan Mathews had 16. They also outrebounded the Gauchos by a 38-30 margin and made 29-of-38 free throw attempts compared to UCSB's 12-of-22.

"They are so good at dribble-penetration and pounding the ball inside," Williams said. "When you do that you're going to shoot a lot of free throws." 

John Green had 12 points and a team-high five rebounds for the Gauchos. Sam Beeler added six points, all in the second half, and four rebounds. 

UCSB will play its second of five Pac 12 opponents on Saturday when it plays Oregon State in its first home game of the season. The Gauchos and Beavers will tip-off at 2:00 p.m. at the Thunderdome.