Dec. 29, 2009
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Patrick Christopher scored 19 of his season-high 25 points in the first half and California built a comfortable early lead on the way to a 87-66 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday night to win the Golden Bear Classic for a third straight year.
Jerome Randle added 23 points with six 3-pointers and Theo Robertson scored 10 in the Golden Bears' final tuneup before opening Pac-10 play at home Saturday against rival Stanford. Cal (8-4) is picked to win the conference after placing third last season--five spots higher than it was picked to finish--and getting 22 victories in coach Mike Montgomery's first year in Berkeley.
Orlando Johnson scored 17 points and Greg Somogyi added 12 to lead UC Santa Barbara (5-5), which ended a four-game losing streak by beating Furman in the first round Monday night, but was overmatched in all phases by the host Bears.
Markhuri Sanders-Frison pulled down four rebounds in the opening three minutes and also had a blocked shot and two assists early. He finished with 10 boards as the Bears held a commanding 45-25 rebounding advantage.
Christopher made eight of his first 12 shots and wound up 11-for-17 with five rebounds in just 26 minutes. He scored nine points during a 17-5 first-half run that gave Cal a 21-point lead at 38-17.
Randle knocked down 6 of 8 3-pointers and Cal shot 9 of 17 from long range. The Bears converted two four-point plays in the first half, taking a 49-32 lead at the break.
After Santa Barbara opened the game with a 3 for a quick lead, Cal answered with a 14-0 run and made 13 of its first 19 shots. The Gauchos went 4:10 between their first and second baskets.
UCSB brothers Chris and Will Brew accounted for 11 straight points for the Gauchos late in the first half.
The Bears have won their tournament 12 of the last 17 times. Randle was coming off back-to-back MVP awards in the event, but gave way to Christopher in this one.
Cal shot a season-best 56.9 percent in beating Utah Valley 85-51 in the opening round Monday night and followed that up with an impressive 55.7-percent clip.
The Bears have won four of their last five, losing only at top-ranked Kansas 84-69 on Dec. 22 during that stretch.
That should give them some momentum heading into Pac-10 play. Cal was 13th in the AP preseason poll but fell out of the rankings following losses to Syracuse and Ohio State in New York on Nov. 19-20.