Powe's Return Fuels Big Win Over Spartans, 70-52
Nov. 30, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Leon Powe sure looked like his old self in his season debut.
Powe matched his career high with 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a long-awaited comeback, leading California past San Jose State 70-52 Wednesday night in his first action in 629 days following knee surgery.
Powe scored the Golden Bears' first 10 points and shot 11-for-18 as Cal (4-1) won its fourth in a row for the team's longest winning streak since also getting four straight victories in February 2003.
Powe, the Pac-10 freshman of the year and league rebounding leader two seasons ago, played for the first time since March 11, 2004, in the Pac-10 tournament. He spent all of last season recovering from left knee surgery, then missed the first four games this year with a stress fracture in his right foot.
Julian Richardson had nine points to lead San Jose State, which played without leading scorer Demetrius Brown because of a bacterial infection only a day he went 1-for-11 in a last-second 47-46 loss to Santa Clara that ended the Spartans' three-game winning streak.
Powe, one of the conference's premier players and considered among the top power forwards in the country, didn't miss until taking a 3-pointer from the top of the arc at 14 minutes. He received a warm ovation when announced before the game.
Powe wasted no time giving the crowd more to cheer about, hitting an 8-footer 19 seconds into the game and making his first dunk with 3:46 before halftime, then another two-handed slam less than 2 minutes later. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Powe averaged 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds as a freshman, also blocking 17 shots, making 19 steals and getting 19 assists.
Richard Midgley added 17 points and five assists for the Bears, making 4-of-8 3-pointers, and Cal forced the sloppy Spartans (3-3) into 21 turnovers. The Bears improved to 18-3 all-time against San Jose State and this marked the schools' first meeting in six years, since Cal won 67-52 on Dec. 7, 1999.
The Spartans pulled within 45-41 on a basket by Menelik Barbary with 11:37 to play but Cal answered with a 20-4 run.
The Bears, in a stretch with six straight home games, are unbeaten since a season-opening 67-65 loss at Eastern Michigan on Nov. 18.
Powe is still working to find his timing on defense and got beat several times in the paint early. He appeared to get tired late in the game, too.
The Bears were without freshman center Jordan Wilkes, who sprained his right ankle during Tuesday's practice and was wearing a walking boot on the bench in street clothes.
San Jose State hasn't beaten a Pac-10 team on the road since Dec. 9, 1986 against Southern California. and it's been since 1990 that they've won against the conference in any venue.