Brion Whitley scored seven of his team-high 18 points in a 17-5 game-opening burst Friday night that allowed visiting Southern to extend California’s winless men’s basketball season with a 74-66 victory in Berkeley, Calif., in the opening round of the Emerald Coast Classic.
Devin Askew went for a game-high 21 points for the Golden Bears (0-4), who despite the loss will advance to the tournament semifinals next Friday in Niceville, Fla., against TCU.
The Jaguars (1-3), who got a key 13-point, nine-assist contribution from P.J. Byrd, will move on to face Loyola-Maryland in the consolation bracket of an event that will play its final two rounds on the campus of Northwest Florida State.
Cal, which had gotten off to slow starts in each of its previous three defeats, did it again against Southern, which got 3-pointers from Whitley, Byrd and Bryson Etienne in the early flurry.
The Jaguars went on to lead by as many as 16 before halftime, and retained a 52-37 advantage following a Terrell Williams Jr. 3-pointer with 12:24 remaining before the Golden Bears, as has been their early season custom, rallied.
Askew bombed in a 3-pointer at the 2:54 mark to get Cal within 64-57, and the Golden Bears had an opportunity to get closer following a Sam Alajiki block. But a Joel Brown turnover led to two Byrd free throws with 1:38 left, and the hosts got no closer than six after that.
Whitley drained 7 of 14 attempts overall and hit four of his eight 3-point tries for Southern, which shot 52.2 percent overall on 3-pointers while outscoring Cal 36-27 from beyond the arc.
Etienne finished with 10 points and backup Dre’Shawn Allen chipped in with 13, including 3-for-3 shooting on 3-pointers, helping the visitors keep Cal at arm’s length.
Alajiki had 10 points off the bench and Lars Thiemann had 15 for the Golden Bears, who lost despite a 19-14 edge in free throw points and 30-24 advantage in rebounds.
Cal’s Marsalis Roberson was the game’s leading rebounder with eight.
–Field Level Media