Cal Men's Basketball Defeats Pacific, 68-56
Nov. 15, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Jerome Randle scored 24 points with four 3-pointers and California ushered in the Mike Montgomery coaching era with a hard-fought victory, holding off Pacific 68-56 on Saturday night in the season opener for both schools.
Patrick Christopher added 18 points for the rebuilding Golden Bears, picked to finish eighth in the Pac-10 in Montgomery's first season.
Cal fans packed Haas Pavilion for the Bears' first game under Montgomery, who returned to the college coaching ranks after two years doing television work on the heels of two losing seasons coaching the NBA's Golden State Warriors. That was after 18 successful seasons at Cal's biggest rival - Stanford.
Montgomery, who sported a dark suit and bright blue tie for his debut in Berkeley, paced the sidelines by his bench with arms crossed for much of the game. He has acknowledged there's no way he will turn around the program over night, but 7,850 people turned out to see how he's doing so far.
James Doran's 3-pointer for Pacific with 10:59 remaining cut Cal's lead to 48-39 and the Tigers stayed within striking distance until the end. Lavar Neufville and Doran each scored 10 points as the lone players in double figures for 21st-year coach Bob Thomason's Pacific team during a game in which both teams struggled to get in sync offensively.
Tigers senior and leading scorer Anthony Brown didn't get his first points until scoring with 17:08 remaining. He finished with eight and now has 952 career points, looking to become the 25th player in Pacific school history to reach the 1,000 mark. The Tigers were picked by the coaches and media to finish third in the Big West Conference this season.
Theo Robertson returned to the court after a year on the sidelines recovering from hip surgery and added 10 points and four rebounds for a Cal team that reached the second round of the NIT last season after a ninth-place conference finish. The Bears lost Pac-10 scoring leader Ryan Anderson early to the NBA and big man DeVon Hardin also is gone.
The inexperience in the paint showed when Cal gave up key rebounds on the defensive end that allowed Pacific second, third and fourth opportunities on some possessions.
Cal leads the series 24-2 and has won the last eight meetings with Pacific. This marked the first matchup since 1999, when the Bears won in the first game played in renovated Haas Pavilion.
Robertson's back-to-back 3-pointers late in first half gave Cal its biggest lead of 14 points and the Bears held a 36-20 edge at the break. Cal shot 6-for-9 from long range in the opening 20 minutes to Pacific's 2-of-12 on 3s.