BERKELEY, Calif. — Jerome Randle scored 24 points and California rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Washington State 86-70 Saturday and remain in first place in the Pac-10.
The Golden Bears (17-8, 9-4) swept a weekend series for just the second time this season to maintain their lead in the conference and move a step closer to their first Pac-10 title in 50 years.
After rolling past Washington 93-81 on Thursday night, Cal had a much more difficult time against the Cougars (15-10, 5-8), falling behind by double digits early before rallying. The Bears scored the final 15 points to break open a close game.
Patrick Christopher had 19 points and played stellar defense on Klay Thompson in the second half. Jamal Boykin added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Jorge Gutierrez scored 15 for the Bears.
Thompson scored 23 of his 28 points in the first half for the Cougars. The high-scoring son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson beat Cal in all sorts of ways in the first half. He hit five 3-pointers, scored on putbacks, drives and post moves. But Christopher provided the answer in the second half, holding Thompson to 2-for-7 shooting from the field.
Cal trailed by 11 points at halftime but scored the first eight points of the second half and then took its first lead since the opening minutes on 3-pointer by Randle midway through the half, part of a 10-0 run. The game stayed close from there with neither team taking more than a three-point lead until less than 3 minutes remained.
Boykin hit a pair of free throws to make it 73-70. Christopher then scored on a layup following a turnover by Thompson. Thompson then badly missed a 3-pointer, and Gutierrez was fouled after the rebound. Washington State coach Ken Bone also got a technical foul, and Cal made 3-of-4 free throws to go up 78-70 with 2:43 to go to put Cal in control.
Thompson started fast for the Cougars, scoring eight points during a 17-4 run that put them ahead early. He then scored eight points in a row, capped by a 25-footer for his fifth 3-pointer of the opening half, to give Washington 32-21 lead with less than 8 minutes left in the half.
Randle’s fourth 3-pointer of the half got the lead down to four with just over 5 minutes left, but Cal scored only two more points the rest of the half and trailed 45-34 at the break. The Bears missed nine of their final 10 shots in the half and turned the ball over four times in the closing 5 minutes.