Cal Sweeps the State of Washington

Patrick Christopher AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

Following Thursday's emotionally draining victory over #9 Washington State Cougars, the Cal Bears lethargic first half against the Washington Huskies on a cold Saturday evening in Seattle left them trailing at 28-33. But they burst out of Braun's locker-room to dominate the second half to push out to a lead at 70-61 with 4 minutes left - and sustained that to the end, finally winning 79-75.

At halftime Braun admonished the Bears: "I explained to our guys at half (that)... even with giving up offensive rebounds (14), even taking some ill advised shots, being impatient, and not defending like we would like, we are still here (so) let's clean it up the second half, let's have a Cal second half."

The game began slowly, and with 13 minutes gone in the first half, Cal trained by 6 at 16-22. The Huskies had launched an aggressive high-energy offense that put the Bears back on their heels, but fortunately this particular gang of Huskies added their own special meaning to the 1971 movie The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, succeeding on just 39% of their shots from the floor and 7% from deep.

Ryan Anderson carried his team in the first half, scoring 13 of Cal's 28 points and reeling in 10 of their 17 rebounds. DeVon Hardin remained home with a viral infection, so Anderson, Kamp, Vierneisel (and Jordan Wilkes too with solid if few minutes in the second half) had to carry the heavy lumber in the paint on defense.

Fortunately, the Huskies had a poor - even inept - night at the foul line as well, hitting just 44.4% of their attempts (Cal hit 87.5%). Only their three-point shooting (for the game) was worse at 25.9% (Cal hit 43.5%), with the Huskies just barely exceeding the Washington State Cougars' 25.0% from deep last Thursday.

AP Photo/Joe Nicholson
Jon Brockman

6'-7" 255 lb Husky forward Jon Brockman was a load, scoring repeatedly for the Huskies in the paint where the Huskies got 42 of their 75 points on the night. Brockman got in foul trouble in the second half defending Anderson and Harper Kamp and had to sit with 4 fouls and 16 minutes left in the game.

His absence contributed to a 24-10 burst by the Bears in the nine minutes after the 13-minute mark. In that period Jamal Boykin took personal command of the boards, hauling in 4 rebounds in just two minutes of play to help fuel the run.

In the first half the Bears scored 28 points; with 5 minutes left in the second half the Bears had already poured in 40 more.

AP Photo/Joe Nicholson
Ryan on the move

Defensive rebounding in the second half contributed mightily to the win. In the first half Washington got 14 offensive rebounds; in the second half they got only 3.

With 4:42 left in the game, Patrick Christopher made the sweetest shot of the game, excelling in pure artistry the three-pointer he made 4 minutes later that clinched the game. Driving into the middle of the lane and encountering defensive pressure, he rose above the crowd with a jump-hook from about 15 feet out that settled quietly into the hoop; he was fouled on the shot and made the free-throw to put Cal ahead 67-59.

The Huskies weren't toast, not quite yet. They battled back with 5 straight points, aided by three consecutive Cal turnovers, until Jerome Randle staunched the bleeding with a mid-range jumper from the key.

In one bizarre moment, perhaps fueled by a sense of desperation to get back in the game, a Washington player (Ryan Appleby?... the video replay was unclear) bull-rushed Eric Vierneisel under the Cal basket, knocked him out of bounds, and took him bodily two rows deep into the stands. Play on the court was already headed the other direction so no referee saw the blatant (probably cause for ejection) event and it went uncalled.

Jerome Randle fouled out with 1:20 remaining, removing Cal's primary ball-handler for the last critical 80 seconds. Eric Vierneisel substituted for him and brought good defense to the floor, but Cal had trouble distributing the ball from there on and too often were left on the perimeter looking vainly for a shot.

Then, with 40 seconds left, Patrick Christopher nailed the basket from three-land that sealed the win. After first making an inside move, then stepping back, Christopher rose to float the ball in an arc - that barely touched the net - and Cal led by 75-72, a lead they would not relinquish.

AP Photo/Joe Nicholson
Braun Gets Serious

After the game, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said, "Patrick's an interesting scorer, some guys are shooters, some guys are scorers. Scorers make shots -- maybe it's a three, maybe it's a running hook, maybe it's an offensive rebound, he's one of those players. We instructed our guys how to defend him and he went left and pulled up for a three. He had a lot of guts to take that shot. We obviously felt we had to guard Ryan Anderson with Christopher being their second option; he certainly hit a nice shot."

Cal radio announcer Todd McKim said the shot was "sensational" and "gutsy", also noting that Christopher had added several stops on defense and some critical free throws to the effort. It was in fact a gutsy shot, the kind near game end that if missed could equally well result in a loss for the Bears - but he put it down. Christopher was 1 for 3 from deep for the night; the one he got really counted.

Four successful clutch-time free throws by Patrick Christopher and Eric Vierneisel closed out the scoring.

Husky forward Artem Wallace put up career numbers. For a player who has been averaging 2.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 4 turnovers in his (average) 11 minutes per game, his 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 turnover in 33 minutes on Saturday have to be recorded in the stat-column called miraculous.

Ryan Anderson's game has to put him in contention for Pac-10 player of the week. His 33 points and 17 rebounds (and 40 minutes) on Saturday were outstanding; that matched with a 27 point, 9 rebound performance against Washington State on Thursday add up to a stellar weekend, and the key reason why the Bears came away with sweep of the state. Oh, yes, and 11 of 11 from the foul line.

With the win, the Bears climb from 8th to 7th in the conference, virtually tied with Arizona State; the Oregon teams will visit Haas next.


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