BERKELEY, Calif. — No matter what Arkansas did Monday night, nothing seemed to work on offense.
The Razorbacks fell into a big hole in the first half and couldn’t complete a comeback en route to a 75-64 loss to California in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament.
California (21-13) advances to the NIT quarterfinals to play No. 1 SMU in Dallas on Wednesday night. The winner will move on to the NIT’s Final Four in New York City on April 1-3. Arkansas ended its season with 22 wins, the most victories in three years under coach Mike Anderson.
Guard Jabari Bird led California with 19 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore guard Tyrone Wallace had 16 points and junior forward David Kravish added 13. Califonia shot 55.3 percent, which was its highest field goal percentage since Jan. 18.
The Razorbacks didn’t enjoy the same success despite getting several open looks from the perimeter against Cal’s zone. Arkansas missed 14 straight during a stretch that lasted 8 minutes, 32 seconds. In the first half, Arkansas missed 30 shots, and only converted 1 of 12 from the 3-point line, digging itself into a lopsided deficit.
Meanwhile, Cal added to its lead by getting the ball inside, mostly to Kravish, who finished the first half with nine points and five rebounds.
Cal led 31-8 with 5:08 left before halftime after Bird drove the middle of the lane on a fast break, made a layup and was fouled by Arkansas senior guard Fred Gulley.
But the momentum changed a few seconds later when Gulley got the ball in the right corner, drove the baseline and dunked on-handed over Cal guard Jeff Powers. Game officials initially called a charge against Gulley, but later overturned it to a block against Powers, giving Gulley the chance to complete the 3-point play.
Arkansas went on to end the first half on a 15-7 run and pull within 15 at the break.
In the second half, Arkansas closed within eight points when Ky Madden hit a jumper in the lane with 3:58 left in the game. But that was the closest it got for the Razorbacks, who finished the game shooting 25 of 78 (32 percent).
Madden led the way for Arkansas with 15 points and five rebounds while both Bobby Portis and Alandise Harris had 12.