California sent a hard message to the Washington Huskies tonight – a couple of messages, really.
Most significantly, the Golden Bears routed the defending Pacific-10 Conference champions, 93-81, moving two games ahead in the league standings.
“We’re going to need some help now,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Prior to tonight's game, we didn’t need anyone’s help. Now, we’ll need someone’s help. Someone else is going to have to knock off some people that are ahead of us.”
A potentially important game-within-the-game also went Cal’s way as Pac-10 player of the year candidate Jerome Randle made a statement of his own, leading the Bears with 33 points.
Meanwhile, UW’s contender for the honor – Quincy Pondexter – managed 17 points – but only three in the first half when the Golden Bears separated from the Huskies.
Randle’s game could hardly have been more different from the previous UW game, when he scored a season-low five points in Seattle.
“He did a tremendous job,” Pondexter said. “I know he probably had a little bit of added motivation because of how he played against us the first time.”
And the games could have hardly been more different either, as Washington beat the Bears by 15 points in Seattle before losing by 12 at Haas Pavilion.
That, of course, brings up the topic that everyone must have tired of by now: Washington’s road woes. However, the numbers continue to pileup as the Huskies (16-8 overall, 6-6 Pac-10) fell to 0-7 away from home. And three of those losses came against teams that UW solidly defeated at home.
Tonight, the Huskies hung close for a few minutes, answered one early run by Cal (16-8, 8-4) with one of their own, and then got put away for good as Randle mixed NBA-length 3-pointers with lightning cross-over dribble drives.Washington was led by Isaiah Thomas, who scored 24 points.
The Huskies conclude this two-game road trap at 5 p.m. Saturday against Stanford.7:29/2nd
15:47/2nd Cal, 58-43. They've switched Justin Holiday onto Randle. We'll see. Pondexter has a couple of early-second-half buckets and is up to seven on the night.
Halftime: Cal up, 48-34. Jerome Randle has 21 points; player-of-the-year rival Quincy Pondexter has three. Cal dominatnig the boards, 25-12.
Isaiah Thomas leading UW with 11 points. However, he picked up his third foul late in the half.
3:56/1st Cal, 41-27, and UW is on the ropes again. We don't have full stats here, but Bears are getting a lot of offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
7:23/1st Cal seemed on the verge of blowing it open, working the lead to 12 points and with Randle just on fire. However, the Huskies have answered with a little run, including an Isaiah Thomas trey, and for now it's Cal 29-22.
11:54/1st Cal, 20-15. Even game early, but Cal feels like its making a move now, and the crowds into it. Jerome Randle, who had five points in the first meeting, already has nine tonight ... including a drive that lost Venoy Overton about as fully as I've ever seen.
Tipoff: As expected, Huskies going with their usual lineup: Thomas, Gaddy, Pondexter, Holiday and Breshers. Cal going with Gutierrez (who didn't play in the previous UW game due to injury), Randle (who Isaiah Thomas pretty well snuffed in the last game), Boykin, Christopher and Robertson.
Pregame: For all of the superstition kind of stuff mentioned in my UW-at-Cal game preview today, at least one seems to have come true. The Huskies are wearing their black uniforms for the second time.
They worked well the first time -- that home blowout win over Washington State.
The Huskies and Bears tip off at 6 p.m. tonight, on ESPN2. A win moves the Huskies into a tie for first place in the Pac-10. A loss puts them two games back and keeps all the road-woes discussions alive for at least a couple of more days... till their visit to Stanford at 5 p.m. Saturday.