March 6, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Patrick Christopher scored 23 points to help California win the outright Pac-10 title with a 71-61 victory over Stanford on Saturday.
Jamal Boykin added 13 points for the Golden Bears (21-9, 13-5), who swept the season series from their Bay area rivals for the first time since 1992-93 by winning at Maples Pavilion for just the second time in 17 trips.
Landry Fields had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cardinal (13-17, 7-11), who lost their final four home games of the regular season. Stanford will finish tied for eighth place in the Pac-10 and needs an Oregon victory against Washington State later Saturday to avoid Wednesday's play-in game in the conference tournament.
Cal clinched at least a share of its first conference title in 50 years and the top seed in the Pac-10 tournament by beating Arizona State last weekend in a game capped by a raucous net-cutting celebration at Haas Pavilion.
The Bears were adamant about not wanting to share the title. When Arizona State finished its regular season with a 56-46 victory over UCLA that ended just before tipoff at Maples Pavilion, Cal knew it needed a win against its rivals to finish alone in first.
Stanford trailed by 12 points in the first half but fought back to tie the game at 44-44 early in the second on a dunk by Jack Trotter. The Cardinal never took the lead in the second half.
A three-point play by Theo Robertson sparked a 9-2 run that but Cal back in front. Christopher, playing in his school-record 129th game, hit three straight baskets to help the Bears maintain the lead, but Stanford cut it to 62-59 on a floater by Fields with 3:14 to go.
Boykin then scored on a putback to make it a five-point game. After a steal by Christopher, he hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put Cal on top 67-59 with 1:37 to go. That started the celebration from the small but vocal contingent of Bears fans who made the drive to Stanford.
Making matters worse for Stanford fans is the fact that the Cardinal's former coach led Cal to the title. Mike Montgomery won four conference championships in 18 seasons on The Farm before leaving for the NBA in 2004. He returned to the college game last season and quickly built Cal into a champion.
Cal enters the conference tournament on its first four-game winning streak of the season.
An intriguing subplot to the game was the competition between Fields and Cal point guard Jerome Randle for the conference player of the year award. Fields got the best of Randle this game, with Randle being held to 11 points on 2-for-10 shooting. But Cal's outright title might be enough to give Randle the award.
Cal took nearly three minutes to get on the scoreboard but then scored nine straight points. The Bears extended their lead to 34-22 on a basket by Boykin with 4:12 remaining in the half. But Stanford scored the final eight points, including six by Fields, to cut it to 34-30 at the break.
The Bears will play the winner of Wednesday's play-in game between Washington State and Oregon on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m.