BERKELEY - California junior David Kravish produced his third double-double in four games to lead the Golden Bears past the UC Irvine Anteaters 73-56 Monday evening in Haas Pavilion.
Kravish matched a career-high 19 points and added 10 boards. The forward has notched 65 points in the last four games.
Sophomore guard Tyrone Wallace also produced a standout effort, notching eight points while matching a career-high 11 rebounds, and senior Richard Solomon drew a pretty big assignment in his first game back in California's lineup after suffering a scratched cornea last week in the Maui Invitational.
Playing against the tallest player in the country -- UC Irvine's 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye -- turned out to be quite an adventure for Solomon. Good thing the Golden Bears' 6-10 forward was wearing protective goggles.
Solomon scored 13 points and out-rebounded his much taller counterpart.
"Couple of elbows here and there from the big dude," Solomon said when asked about his injured eye. "He was a giant. I didn't see anything but his chest the whole game. He's huge."
Ndiaye was definitely the biggest attraction at Haas Pavilion.
Nearly a dozen NBA scouts, along with Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers, were on hand to see Ndiaye.
They didn't get to see much of him.
Ndiaye played sparingly in the first half after picking up two early fouls in an 18-second span. He started the second half and scored on a pair of dunks before fouling out with more than seven minutes left.
"There's no question about it, he's a big dude," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "I thought he got into our heads a little bit just because guys were trying to figure out what they liked to do."
Kravish didn't seem too bothered by Irvine's man in the middle. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds while going 9 of 15 from the floor. Most of his points came on mid-range jumpers in the second half, which helped offset the presence of Ndiaye when he was in the game.
Freshman Jabari Bird added 14 points for the Bears (6-2).
Cal snapped a two-game losing streak despite a slow night from leading scorer senior Justin Cobbs. Cobbs had nine assists but scored just three points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Chris McNealy scored 13 points for Irvine while Luke Nelson had 12. The Anteaters (5-4) lost for only the second time in seven games.
"We got down early and we didn't handle that very well," said Irvine coach Russell Turner, who spent five seasons coaching under Montgomery when both were at Stanford. "In sports or life, when you get punched in the face or something bad happens to you, you have to figure out how to respond. I don't think we did that today."
Kravish took advantage of Irvine's soft zone defense. He scored 10 of Cal's first 12 points in the second half and added a dunk of his own to push the Bears' lead to 57-40.
Bird, the Bears' highly touted freshman, also had an emphatic dunk when he split a pair of Irvine defenders at the top of the key then drove the lane, just moments before Kravish's.
It was a good bounce-back win for Cal after it lost to No. 7 Syracuse and Dayton in the Maui Invitational.
"We kind of knew when Ndiaye was in the game that he was going to sit back in the zone and we could go to the mid-range jumper," Kravish said. "They just kept giving me the ball and I was making (shots)."
The victory also moved Montgomery one step closer to tying John Wooden for 27th list for career coaching wins list. Montgomery has 663.
Most of the attention was on Ndiaye, who went into the game with 29 blocked shots.
He missed his first shot then picked up two fouls in a span of 18 seconds before heading to the bench for the final 16 minutes of the first half.
Irvine could have used Ndiaye's towering presence inside. The Anteaters shot just 21 percent from the floor and had only two assists before halftime.
With Ndiaye out, Cal controlled the boards and the tempo. The Bears got seven points apiece from Bird and Solomon to take a 35-19 lead into halftime.
It wasn't much different in the second half.
Ndiaye blocked a layup attempt by Bird and scored on a dunk to pull Irvine within 43-29 but went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul. He checked back in briefly before fouling out with 7:29 remaining.
The Bears led comfortably throughout the second half, allowing Montgomery to empty his bench.