Feb. 11, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Jerome Randle quickly brushed aside his bad game at Washington last month, determined to make up for it with a big performance back home.
And boy did he.
Randle scored 21 of his 33 points in the first half, Jamal Boykin added 20 points and 11 rebounds and first-place California kept hold of its top spot in the Pac-10 with a commanding 93-81 victory over Washington on Thursday night.
"Hopefully we can keep it going. I smell a championship but there are a lot of other things we have to do," Randle said. "I'm excited about it but you just can't get too excited because, as you can see, this Pac-10 is kind of crazy."
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points to lead the Huskies (16-8, 6-6 Pac-10), who fell to 0-7 on the road and greatly hurt their NCAA tournament hopes. They will likely need to win the Pac-10 tournament next month to earn an NCAA berth.
"Prior to tonight, we didn't need anyone else's help," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Now we need somebody else's help."
Randle shot 12 for 19 and helped the Golden Bears (16-8, 8-4) avenge an embarrassing 84-69 defeat at the hands of the Huskies on Jan. 16 in Seattle, which ended Cal's three-game winning streak in the rivalry.
Randle was off that game, going scoreless in the first half and finishing 2 for 9 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range for a season-low five points and a season-worst eight turnovers.
"I had this game on my schedule. I know that wasn't the way I play down in Seattle," Randle said. "I was not 100 percent. I just let it go. We lost the game but I knew what I was going to produce out here in Berkeley. I just wanted to lead my team and be aggressive."
On Thursday, he made a strong case for Pac-10 Player of the Year honors _ thoroughly outplaying Washington star Quincy Pondexter, who wound up with 17 points but was slow to find his rhythm. His jumper with 4:32 to play got Washington within 10 but that was the closest the Huskies got the rest of the way. Venoy Overton added 15 points for Washington.
Pondexter wasn't surprised by Randle's inspired outing.
"He probably had a little bit of added motivation because of how he played against us last time," Pondexter said. "When he's on, he's tough to guard because he can shoot from just about anywhere on the floor."
The Bears, picked to win the Pac-10 after a third-place finish last year, bounced back from consecutive losses at Arizona and Southern California to beat UCLA last Saturday. Cal is trying to capture its first conference title since 1960 in Mike Montgomery's second season as coach.
"We did (separate ourselves) from one team, and that's going to be the nature of this thing," Montgomery said. "A win for Washington here is huge from them because it brings them back and puts them in the driver's seat. We have to take care of our home court. It's to the point now, game by game, we have to be prepared to play. We can't have any slip-ups. It's not that we're not going to lose but not because we weren't ready to play. This was a big win for us, especially because of the way they handled us up there."
Washington, which entered the game in a five-way tie for second place in the conference, hung tough for much of the first half but couldn't keep it up in having its four-game winning streak snapped. The Huskies haven't won at Haas Pavilion since March 1, 2008, and have just two victories in their last 10 trips to Berkeley.
"Outrebounding them was huge," Montgomery said. "They go hard to the offensive glass. I thought Boykin was great."
The Bears had an answer nearly every time Washington made a big play. After Thomas made a three-point play and then a 3-pointer the next time down with 6:45 left, pulling his team within 74-65, Randle answered with a 3 and a layin on consecutive Cal possessions. Randle went down hard under the basket with 5:38 to play and was down for several minutes before briefly heading to the bench to be examined.
Romar pulled a frustrated Thomas after he turned the ball over going for a layin with 13:59 remaining with Washington down by 16, 63-47. He sat for 4 minutes, 40 seconds.
Cal now must close out the season with a strong finish. The Bears play five of their final seven league games in the Bay Area, including at archrival Stanford on March 6.
Cal made 8 of its initial 11 shots, including Randle's behind-the-back move at the 3-point line to bust by Thomas for a driving layin to start a 15-2 run after Quincy Pondexter's three-point play at 13:45.
The Bears ended the half with a 14-7 spurt to build a 48-34 lead at the break, shooting 51.4 percent.
Cal is 10-0 when shooting 50 percent or higher. The Bears led the Pac-10 in field-goal percentage coming in at a 47.2-percent clip.