It took something pretty special Saturday afternoon to overshadow Ryan Anderson's 33-point, 17-rebound performance, which moved him into first place on Cal's all-time sophomore scoring list and matched his career-high for boards.
With the game tied 72-72 with 25.3 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Patrick Christopher provided that special moment.
Coming out of a timeout, Christopher jabbed forward and then hit a step-back three-pointer over Justin Holiday, and Cal hit four free throws sandwiched around a Justin Dentmon three-pointer to pull out a 79-75 squeaker over Washington, in front of 9,404 at Bank of America Arena.
"It was a beautiful thing," said Christopher, who scored 20 points and was doused by a bottle of water by his teammates after the game. "I'm all wet right now, but it feels good."
Cal (13-7, 4-5) got a road sweep over the Washington schools for the first time since 2003 and for only the third time in the last 15 years. With back-to-back wins, the Bears moved from ninth place to a tie for sixth and have a chance to move into the top half of the conference standings with a homestand this week against Pac-10 doormat Oregon State and Oregon.
That's a far cry from where Cal stood at this point last week, when it had lost five of six and had trouble closing out games. Six of the seven Bears' losses, including four of the losses during the slide, came in games in which they were within two points in the final three minutes.
This week, they found ways to secure back-to-back victories in distinctly different types of games. After playing one of its best games of the season in a 69-64 win over No. 9 Washington State on Thursday, Cal managed to overcome a lackluster first half and blowing a nine-point, second-half lead to stave off Washington (12-10, 3-6) on Saturday.
The Bears shot 38.5 percent in the first half and allowed 14 offensive rebounds in falling behind by seven. They responded in the second half, outrebounding Washington 24-11 to grab a 70-61 lead only to watch the Huskies go on an 11-2 run to tie it 72-72 with 1:20 remaining.
"There are a lot of teams playing imperfect basketball, but you have to believe in yourself and make some plays when the game is on the line," coach Ben Braun said. "Our guys did that in a tough environment and against really tough pressure defense."
Anderson, who registered his ninth double-double of the season by halftime, scored 15 consecutive Cal points during a 4 1/2-minute, second-half stretch. He started the scoring flurry with a three-pointer that cut Washington's lead to 51-49 with 12:49 remaining and ended it with a putback that gave the Bears a 61-56 lead with 8:15 left.
"There are some moments in the game when you feel like everything is going to go in," said Anderson, who moved past Brian Hendrick and Leon Powe on the sophomore scoring list with 982 points. "We were losing and I felt like I needed to step up a little bit."
Anderson's 33-point performance was his fourth 30-point outburst of the season. Only Ed Gray, who had 30-plus six times in 1997, and Lamond Murray, who did it five times in 1994, have posted those numbers more often in a Cal season.
Ryan Appleby, who had 19 points after starting out 1-of-10, hit two three-pointers and converted a layup off a steal during an 11-2 run that tied it 72-72.
Cal point guard Jerome Randle had three turnovers during a four-possession stretch that aided Washington's run, but he also scored the Bears' only basket and finished with 16 points, four assists and three steals.
"With Jerome, he's never at a lack for trying to make a play for a team," Braun said. "He got himself in trouble on a couple of occasions, but he also showed some poise and hit some big shots when the team was struggling. He has some room to improve, but I like the direction he is going."
Cal may like it when center DeVon Hardin, who missed the trip with a viral infection, is back in the lineup. Washington's Artem Wallace had 17 points and 10 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. He had six points and 10 rebounds in his six previous games combined.
"I think our guys can take something from this and come back with some confidence and spirit," said Braun, whose team overcame blizzard-like weather, flight delays and a heat-less shootaround, on top of missing Hardin. "We had all kinds of things, but the little things didn't seem to bother them. That's really encouraging."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!