Christopher Regains Stroke as Bears Put Away Cougars

Christopher, Randle Score 20 Apiece in Win

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He's back.

Six, four and three -- those were Bears guard Patrick Christopher's last three scoring outputs up until Saturday night.

But tonight against Washington State, the junior poured in 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, putting an emphatic end to his recent struggles as Cal (18-6, 7-4 in the Pac-10) added yet another season sweep to its resume with a 71-63 win over the Cougars (12-11, 4-7) at Haas Pavilion.

"He was alright," guard Jerome Randle joked. "I expect that out of (Christopher), so I'm not surprised at all that he came out and had a big game. Should be looking forward to him having more big games."

Christopher's two made free throws gave the Bears a 67-60 lead with 2:04 left, and forward Theo Robertson's pull-up jumper with 23 seconds remaining eliminated any likelihood of a Washington State comeback.

While Christopher decidedly downplayed questions regarding his big night -- "I think that's just part of my game and me, not forcing anything," he said -- Cal coach Mike Montgomery answered as bluntly as usual on the matter.

"Well, he just needed to make a shot," Montgomery said. "We got a good look for him early, he made it and I think that helped his confidence.

"Pat said all the right things, but I know deep down he was hurting ... It was nice to see Pat bounce back and have a good game."

Randle had quite the efficient outing himself, matching Christopher's game-high with 20 points; the point guard took just nine shots from the field in 38 minutes of action, making six, and was perfect from the stripe going 4-for-4.

The junior had three assists to three turnovers, but Montgomery didn't seem to have too many bones to pick with Randle's performance.

"I thought Jerome's 20 points on nine shots, that was impressive," he said. "His floor game is improving."

As a team, the Bears improved as the evening went on. After the Cougars grabbed a 14-5 lead following tip-off, Cal subbed in backups Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez and Omondi Amoke before busting a 20-2 run, during which Washington State failed to score for over six minutes of play.

The Bears would then need a couple more runs to put away the pesky Cougars -- down 33-30 at the half, Cal opened the second half strong on a 9-0 run, and with 2:53 left in 60-60 tie, the Bears went on a 7-0 run to seal its victory.

"Their big-time players made big-time plays," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said.

Bennett wasn't without his usual weapons, however, as guard Taylor Rochestie paced the Cougars with 19 points, six assists and five boards in playing all 40 minutes.

Freshman Klay Thompson, who missed minutes mainly due to foul trouble, finished with 15 points and a few big three-pointers down the stretch. Leading up to the aforementioned 60-60 tie, the guard scored eight straight points for Washington State as he evaded Christopher around multiple screens.

"He's good," Montgomery said of Thompson. "He can really shoot the ball. He's got a great looking stroke and he's putting it down the floor to shoot."

Though Washington State shot 56.3 percent as a team, it couldn't overcome the fact that the Bears attempted 16 free throws, making 13, while the Cougars went just 1-for-1.

"That was frustrating," Bennett said of the free-throw differential. "Not discouraging, but frustrating."


Contact Andrew Kim at [email protected]

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