March 5, 2009
TUCSON--It was a close battle from end to end, with nine ties in the second half, but it ended with California at the free throw line after using an outside shooting attack to regain and keep the lead, and down Arizona, 83-77, Thursday night in McKale Center.
A crowd of 14,729, including former coach Lute Olson in a courtside seat on the night he was honored in a halftime ceremony for his 24 years of keeping Arizona at the top of the game, left in disappointment.
Arizona dropped to 18-12 overall and 8-9 in Pac-10 play, jeopardizing its chances of continuing the program's nation-best streak of 24 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament. Cal improved to 22-8 and 11-6.
Cal, the league's best shooting squad from beyond the arc at 44 percent, showed why with a 16-for-30 effort led by guard Jerome Randle with 31 points, 24 of those on threes. He was backed by 24 points from Theo Robertson, who nailed four three-pointers, and Patrick Christopher with 12 points. Cal hit 46 percent from the field but 53 percent from beyond the arc. Randle hit eight of 11 treys.
Chase Budinger dropped in a season-high 28 points and Jordan Hill posted his 17th double-double of the year with 24 points and 13 rebounds for UA, which also had double-figures scoring from Jamelle Horne and Nic Wise and with 13 and 10, respectively.
A 9-0 run helped California turn a deficit into a five-point lead eight minutes into the second half.
A Jamelle Horne three-pointer at 16:22 put Arizona up by three, but a pair of UA turnovers in the next minute and a trio of Cal three-pointers by Theo Robertson, Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle pushed the Bears ahead, 50-45.
Jordan Hill's jumper kept the Cats close, and Chase Budinger capped a second-chance possession with a bucket to bring UA within one, 50-49, by the second media timeout at 11:12. Hill worked himself to the line and put Arizona back on top, 51-50.
The lead changed hands a few times with Hill trading buckets with Cal's shooters, and Budinger dropped in a bank shot to tie the game at 57-all with just under eight minutes left. Randle bombed one from way outside, and Budinger answered for a 60-60 knot.
Randle's three at the 5:31 mark put Cal up by three, 65-62. Hill made the second of two free throws to trim it to a one-possession game. UA had a chance to tie, but Nic Wise was called for an offensive foul. Cal worked the shot clock twice, with an offensive rebound, and Randle knocked down a wide-open three to put Cal up by five, 68-63, at a timeout at the 3:23 mark.
Budinger made a traditional three-point play at the 2:30 mark to cut the lead to two, 68-66, but Randle beat the shot clock for a trey and a 71-66 lead inside the 2-minute mark. After a fifth foul disqualified Wise on a charge, Patrick Christopher dropped in another shot from beyond the arc for a definitive lead, 74-66.
The Cats climbed to within three points three times at 76-73, 78-75, and 80-77 but the trading of points didn't help. First Christopher and then Robertson each dropped in a pair of free throws for Cal to make it a two-possession game each time, the last with 14 seconds left. Budinger dunked and Cal's Randle made one of two bonus shots for a 81-77 lead with nine seconds remaining. ...
The early minutes were give and take on both ends, and it lasted throughout the first half, with Arizona emerging with a four-point edge, 38-34.
Jerome Randle made two of his first three shots to pace Cal to a 7-5 lead by the first media timeout at 15:42. One was a catch-and-shoot three-pointer and the other a transition floater.
But Jordan Hill got his second bucket moments later to knot the score, and Nic Wise drained a three for his fifth point. Just as quickly Call's Jamal Boykin popped a jumper, but Hill knocked down a jumper in transition for a 12-9 UA edge at the 12:30 mark.
Jamelle Horne's rebounding helped UA. He had four at that point. A pair of his free throws pushed the lead to five, which held until the next timeout at 11:18. Chase Budinger was fouled going to the hoop and dropped in two more for a 16-9 edge.
Hill fed Horne for a dunk and UA led by nine, but Cal's Jorge Gutierrez got free underneath for a layup off a Harper Kamp assist. But Horne answered with another dunk off a Wise pass. Budinger's three a minute later put UA up 23-11.
Cal kept pace with a Theo Robertson three-pointer, but Hill made one of two free throws to keep the lead at double digits, 24-14. Randle, however, rattled in a three on the break to trim the lead to seven, which held until the 6:44 media timeout.
Cal stuck another basket by Robertson to make it a five-point game and cap a 8-1 run in just over two minutes. Hill answered for UA with a jump hook, but Robertson naield a three to make it 28-22 Arizona. Budinger made an old-fashioned three-point play to push it back to seven, 29-22, at the 5:30 mark.
Kyle Fogg drove for a step-back jumper to kick UA's lead back to nine, 31-22. But Nikola Knezevic dropped in a trey to keep the Bears within six with under four minutes left in the half.
Wise spun for a layup on a break after a Cal turnover and UA was back up by eight. Another Golden Bears' miscue gave UA a chance and Budinger made them pay with a three from the corner to push Arizona up by 11 points, 36-25, with under two minutes left.
Patrick Christopher made one bonus shot to trim it to 10, and UA turned it over with the Bears cashing in from the line, with two from Randle to slice the lead to eight. Knezevic bombed another liner from beyond the arc a few moments later and it was back to a five-point game, 36-31.
Budinger made a pair from the line for UA, and Cal worked for the last shot, including a called time out by Cal coach Mike Montgomery with 16 seconds left. Robertson dropped in a bomb to make it Arizona 38-34.