PULLMAN – Well, that’s one way to quiet a crowd.
Hit 13 of your first 16 shots. Bury six of your first seven 3-pointers. Run, run, and run some more.
That’s exactly what California did Thursday night, lighting up its rocket-quick transition game in the first 8 minutes, running out to a 20-point lead and repelling two concerted Washington State runs to defeat the Cougars 93-88 in front of 8,277 at Beasley Coliseum.
It was the most points WSU has given up in seven years.
“The first eight minutes, that’s where the game was won or lost,” WSU coach Ken Bone said, before taking the blame. “I didn’t have our guys ready to go.”
And the Bears were ready, maybe more than they have since Mike Montgomery took over as coach last season.
“We’ve never came out attacking a team like that since I’ve been here,” said California senior guard Jerome Randle, who led everyone with 39 points, hitting 7 of 12 3-pointers and making every shot Cal needed as WSU tried to crawl back.
“You can’t give him space,” said Marcus Capers, who chased the 5-foot-10 Randle around all night. “And I felt like I gave him too much space at the beginning of the game.”
Randle earned it by pushing the ball.
“We contested their shots and (were) able to rebound and get out in transition,” said Randle, who also had nine assists and five rebounds. “We’re at our best when we’re in transition. I don’t think there is anyone who can stop us in transition.”
Certainly not the Cougars.
“At the beginning of the game, we were running and they were sprinting,” Capers said.
After the Bears, who lead the Pacific-10 Conference by themselves with a 3-1 mark (11-5 overall), had jumped out 28-8, the Cougars finally increased their energy level.
With freshman point guard Reggie Moore – who finished with a career-high 25 points, hit 9 of 10 free throws and added five assists – doing the heavy lifting, WSU cut the Bears’ lead to 41-37 at the half.
The last 12 minutes before intermission, the Cougars hit 13 of 16 shots.
That didn’t faze Cal and its four seniors a bit. The Bears went out to a 73-58 lead in the second half with 8:29 left.
WSU (12-5, 2-3) clawed back, getting within six with 34.3 seconds left and Xavier Thames at the line. But the freshman, just inserted into the lineup, missed the front end, Moore missed a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound, and Cal hit five of its last six free throws to hold on.
“A road win is huge in this league,” said Montgomery, blaming the tight finish on fatigue.
The Bears were a little short on the bench, with usual starter Markhuri Sanders-Frison out with back spasms.
Without the 6-8, 275-pound post, Cal started small, giving sophomore Omondi Amoke, a 6-7 wing, the start.
But it’s was the seniors’ night. Besides Randle, Patrick Christopher had 21 points, Jamal Boykin added 16 and Theo Robertson another 13.
WSU’s Klay Thompson again had trouble shooting, hitting 6 of 16 tries.
He fnished with 18 points.
California 93, WSU 88
Percentages: FG .517, FT .800. 3-Point Goals: 11-20, .550 (Randle 7-12, Robertson 3-5, Christopher 1-1, Seeley 0-1, Knezevic 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 2 (Robertson, Zhang). Turnovers: 12 (Randle 3, Seeley 2, Boykin, Amoke, Robertson, Knezevic, Zhang). Steals: 7 (Zhang 2, Randle 2, Boykin, Christopher, Seeley).
Percentages: FG .516, FT .824. 3-Point Goals: 8-23, .348 (Koprivica 3-6, Moore 2-5, Thompson 2-10, Lodwick 1-1, Thames, 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 4 (Casto, Lodwick, Thompson, Watson). Turnovers: 14 (Casto 4, Thompson 4, Watson 2, Capers 2, Koprivicia, Moore). Steals: 6 (Capers 2, Moore 2, Casto, Koprivica). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime–Cal 41, WSU 37. A–8,277.