Johnson scores 33 points, but Cal too much for Wolf Pack
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) ” Jerome Randle had 23 points and tied a season high with eight assists, Patrick Christopher scored 16 points and California overcame a sloppy offensive performance in the first half to beat Nevada 75-66 on Saturday afternoon.
Jamal Boykin and Theo Robertson added 10 points apiece for the Bears (8-2), who won despite missing 13 of their first 19 shots and failing to score off an offensive rebound in the first half.
Nevada’s Armon Johnson scored 27 of his career-high 33 points in the second half, including 13 in the final 2:26, but the Wolf Pack (6-5) couldn’t get much else going late in their first road game since Dec. 2. Nevada had won three straight going in but haven’t won at Berkeley since the 1983-84 season.
Randle, Cal’s leading scorer, had a 3-pointer midway through the second half to cap a 13-4 run and give the Bears a 44-38 lead. But Nevada stayed close behind Johnson and Luke Babbitt, who had 10 of his 14 points in the second half including a short hook shot that pulled the Wolf Pack within 54-51 with 4:12 remaining.
Christopher, Randle and Robertson made consecutive 3-pointers for Cal and Christopher scored on a dunk off a long pass from Randle to make it 65-51.
Johnson, who shattered his previous career-high of 23 points set against Colorado State earlier this season, tried to get Nevada back in it but Randle scored nine points down the stretch, including four free throws with 33 seconds left ” two on a technical against Wolf Pack coach Mark Fox ” to seal the win for the Bears.
California shot just 36 percent in the first half when starters Robertson and center Jordan Wilkes went scoreless. The Bears got open looks and easy drives through the lane but couldn’t finish. They were also limited to two offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, which magnified their scoring problems.
The Wolf Pack weren’t any better, going 7-for-22 in the first 14 minutes of the first half.
Christopher scored on a reverse under the basket then added a pair of free throws with 53 seconds left to give the Bears a 29-25 halftime lead.
Cal missed five of its first six shots in the second half while Johnson scored seven straight points for Nevada to give the Wolf Pack a 32-29 lead before the Bears got their offense going.