LAHAINA, Hawaii – Despite 18 points from senior guard Justin Cobbs and 17 from freshman guard Jabari Bard, the California men's basketball team dropped its first decision of the season with a 92-81 setback to No. 7/8 Syracuse in the semifinal round of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center on Tuesday.
The loss marks Cal's (5-1) first of the season, and first defeat since dropping a 66-60 decision to Syracuse in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on March 23, 2013 in San Jose, Calif.
The Bears will play Dayton in the third-place game of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on ESPN2.
The Bears played without Richard Solomon, one of their senior starters and top rebounder at 11.4 rpg., because of a right corneral abrasion. Solomon had started Cal's previous 22 contests.
Tyler Ennis scored 28 points and led two key second-half runs that carried the Orange past the Bears.
Syracuse scored 51 points in the second half, shooting 55 percent and making five of seven 3-point attempts. Ennis had 17 points and Trevor Cooney scored 20 of his 23 after the break.
Jerami Grant finished with 19 points while C.J. Fair had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Ennis hit a layup during a nine-point run started by Grant's putback dunk. The spurt lasted more than two minutes and gave Syracuse (6-0) its first double-digit lead with less than eight minutes left.
Cobbs scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as the Bears and Orange traded leads. The game was close until midway through the second half, with 10 ties and 12 lead changes.
Cal tied it at 41 going into halftime when Tyrone Wallace hit two free throws after being fouled on a rebound by Ennis.
David Kravish, who finished with 15 points, then hit a layup to start the second half, but Ennis responded with his own layup 30 seconds later.
Cobbs gave Cal a four-point run to tie the game at 54. He made a nifty pass in traffic to set up Jordan Mathews for a dunk, then stole the ball from Cooney on the next possession and scampered for a dunk.
Grant responded with a jumper and Syracuse led the rest of the game.
Cobbs now has at least five assists in all six games this season. Four Golden Bears scored in double-digits, with freshman Jordan Mathews notching a career-high 12 points.