Gutierrez Sparks Comeback in Bears' Win Over Cougars

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Washington State 70
Cal 86


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Patrick Christopher entered Saturday's post-game press conference, sat down and immediately put his arm around Jorge Gutierrez.

"Jorge's my hero," Christopher said.

Gutierrez, after all, had catapulted the Cal men's basketball team to a come-from-behind 86-70 victory over Washington State at Haas Pavilion, complementing his usual defensive intensity with a career-high scoring effort.

His energy was a catalyst in a win that gave the Bears (17-8, 9-4 in the Pac-10) a season sweep of the Cougars and, perhaps more importantly, kept them in first place in the conference standings.

Gutierrez, who is still recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss five Pac-10 games, has worked his way into the starting lineup for the last three. If he's a spark off the bench, point guard Jerome Randle said, why not have him from tipoff?

"This is what he does every day," Randle said. "He's a tough competitor, and he changed the game."

Randle scored a team-high 24 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting, Christopher had 19 and forward Jamal Boykin added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears, but their second-half comeback seemed largely due to the efforts of Gutierrez. The sophomore guard had a personal-best 15 points to go along with six assists, four rebounds and four steals in 34 minutes.

"I just enjoy being on the court with my teammates, playing hard," he said.

His activity seemed contagious. Cal hounded Washington State (15-10, 5-8) on defense after break, forcing its opponent into 37-percent shooting from the field after the Cougars made 65.4 percent of their attempts in the first half.

Sophomore guard Klay Thompson poured in 23 points in the first half but scored five after halftime, missing all three of his shots from beyond the arc after going 5-of-5 before the break.

"He made his first shot, but it was almost as if nobody was guarding him," Christopher said. "With a shooter like that, you have to contest all of his shots. Once we were able to key in on him, locate him and chase him off screens ... we did a better job of containing him."

The Bears, who took their first lead of the second half on Jerome Randle's three-pointer with 10:35 remaining, closed the game on a 15-0 run.

"We did?" coach Mike Montgomery asked. "I like that."

For the record, they did indeed. Washington State didn't score after Nikola Koprivica's offensive rebound and putback with 4:03 left in the game.

The Bears trailed at halftime, 45-34, unable to avenge an early 12-2 run by Washington State, but they outscored Ken Bone's squad by 27 points in the second half. They shot 22 of their 24 free throws after the break, a sign that they responded well to Randle's mid-game ultimatum.

"I just wanted everyone to know if we came out the same as the first half, we would lose," Randle said.

Thanks to Gutierrez, they didn't do either.

Tags: CAL MEN'S BASKETBALL, WASHINGTON STATE, JORGE GUTIERREZ, CAL, PAC-10 BASKETBALL, MIKE MONTGOMERY


Contact Jeff Goodman at [email protected]



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