Ducks fall prey to Bear trap
BERKELEY – Ernie Kent counted this one among Oregon’s worst offensive performances ever. At least that he can recall, and he’s been in Eugene for 13 seasons now.
California jumped on the Ducks early, then the starters got to rest for much of the second half.
Patrick Christopher scored all 21 of his points in the first half as Cal quickly took a commanding lead, and the Golden Bears beat Oregon for the third straight time with an 89-57 victory Thursday night.
“I thought we had an excellent opportunity to take control of the game early because I did not think they were ready to play,” Kent said. “We kind of gave them life. We had stops, we had great scoring opportunities, and when we didn’t score they got to rolling and then their energy came and then their confidence came.”
Christopher scored 14 straight points for his team late in the first half, knocking down both of his 3-point tries. His big night helped Cal (12-6, 4-2 Pac-10) stay in first place in the conference along with idle Arizona State.
Theo Robertson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for Cal, which bounced back from an embarrassing 15-point loss at Washington last Saturday.
“Especially after a big loss we needed this one today,” said Cal’s Jamal Boykin, who added 10 points. “I would like to think the way we played dictated their energy being a little lower. I did think it was going to be a little tougher tonight, especially because they beat Washington, who we got blown out by.”
Jeremy Jacob scored 13 points and Michael Dunigan added nine points and 10 rebounds for the cold-shooting Ducks (10-8, 2-4), who went 1 for 18 from 3-point range in their fourth straight loss.
This matched Cal’s largest margin of victory in the series along with a 78-46 win on Dec. 29, 1962, in Portland.
“That’s more like how we have to play. I thought that we came out with energy. I thought defensively we followed the game plan fairly well,” Cal’s coach Mike Montgomery said. “We were aggressive tonight. We were the team that was on our toes and as a result we got them back on their heels a little bit. It happens. It happened to us Saturday.
“If we can sustain this type of energy, emotion, aggressiveness, we’ll be fine.”
Christopher played only 29 minutes and none of the starters went more than that. That will be helpful considering tip-off for Saturday’s game against Oregon State is at 11 a.m.
Oregon managed six blocks against the Bears, but was outrebounded 42-36 and couldn’t overcome its 38-percent shooting. Leading scorer Tajuan Porter, who came in averaging 12.8 points per game, was held to six points and went 3 of 9 from the floor. He missed all five of his 3-point tries.
“These guys are going to be sick when they look at the number of open 2-footers they missed,” Kent said of his team. “The game was lost for us on the offensive end of the floor because you’ve got to score.”
The Bears were picked to win the conference after placing third last season – five spots higher than they were picked to finish – and getting 22 victories in Montgomery’s first year in Berkeley.
Oregon’s first three losses during this skid came on its home floor at McArthur Court – to rival Oregon State and the Arizona schools last week – and the Ducks won their first two Pac-10 road games.
Cal has won three in a row in the series after sweeping the two meetings last season. Before that, the Ducks swept the previous year’s regular-season matchups.
Christopher’s 14 straight points put the Bears up 31-19 with 3:57 left in the first half and he scored 16 of his team’s 18 during that stretch, helping Cal to a 48-21 lead at the break. Christopher had as many points alone as the entire Oregon team did at halftime.
The Ducks missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the opening half.
The Bears used a 9-0 run to build a 15-6 lead, holding the Ducks scoreless for 5:08 midway through the opening half. But Cal then went cold and had a long drought before Christopher’s solo run.
Oregon hasn’t won at Haas Pavilion since Feb. 9, 2008.