MONTY SPEAKS: Montgomery took the mic and thanked the crowd. “Arizona State was great tonight, but these kids just wouldn’t be denied. This is the crowd we need all the time. I hope you had fun.” And today is Montgomery’s birthday.
IT’S OVER: Cal 62, ASU 46. Cal owns at least a piece of its first conference title in 50 years. Students stormed the court and mobbed the players as two machines filled the air with blue and gold confetti. Cal (20-9, 12-5) also has locked up the No. 1 seed for the Pac-10 tournament. And there’s a ladder under the north basket, so the nets are coming down. Randle snipped the first piece, then Boykin, Robertson, Sanders-Frison, Amoke, Gutierrez (to a huge cheer), Knezevic (grabbing the rim, pumping his first and hopping up and down on the ladder and puming his first some more), Brandon Smith, D.J. Seeley, Max Zhang (another favorite), Nigel Carter, Christopher (huge smile), Bak Bak and (with the crowd roaring) Monty, who made the final snips, waved the nets at the crowd and pumped his fist.
THE STATS: Boykin and Christopher each had 14 points and Robertson 13. Cal held ASU to one field goal — 1-for-12 shooting over a span of more than 1o minutes to end the game until a garbage-time basket with 31 seconds left.
3:26 2nd H: Cal leads 59-44 after layups by Boykin off feeds from Robertson and Gutierrez. Cal just gave a team jersey and game ball to official timer John Mahaffey, who has been part of things at Cal since his freshman year as a student — in 1952! Today is his final game. Tallk about your Senior Day.
4:44 2nd H: Cal has its biggest lead of the game — 57-44 — after a Boykin layup off a feed from Robertson. Cal is playing extremely hard on defense and ASU is getting nothing easy. Boykin has 12 points, Christopher 14, Robertson 10. Gutierrez and Amoke both making big contributions.
6:36 2nd H: ASU called timeout after getting possession on a held-ball after Randle lost the handle. Cal leads 53-44.
7:43 2nd H: Cal answered a 3-pointer by Jamelle McMillan with an 8-0 run and leads 52-42. A few minutes ago this place was louder than it’s been all year. Gutierrez right in the middle of things with a couple baskets and a feed to Boykin for a basket on a goaltending call. Also, a three-point play by Robertson on a putback and FT after Amoke kept the ball alive with a tip on the offensive boards. ASU has not scored on its past four possessions.
11:49 2nd H: Looks like this one will be close to the finish. Cal leads 42-39. Christopher has 14 points, and has Cal’s past seven points. Abbott is heating up for ASU with baskets on the Sun Devils’ two most recent possessions, after scoring just four points in the first half. He’s been a Cal-killer in the past, to the Bears need to find him.
15:34 2nd H: Cal’s lead is 38-34 after a 3-pointer by Christopher and a turnover by Boateng. A big blocked shot on Shipp a few minutes ago by Amoke, who also has six points, four rebounds and two assists.
17:13 2nd H: Cal has scored the first six points of the half and leads 35-30 — its biggest lead of the game. Herb Sendek called timeout, probably to try to silence a loud crowd. ASU is 0-for-4 in the half, starting with a blown layup by Glasser on a beautiful backdoor cut and pass from Abbott to open the half. Amoke has two FTs and a putback, and Boykin hit a jumper for the five-point margin.
MORE NUMBERS: Cal is 14-1 at home this season, 30-3 the past two years, but they are just 1-6 this season when trailing at halftime. In their only loss this season at Haas — the 76-76 overtime defeat to UCLA — the Bears led 34-26 at the half. With his seven points, Christopher has topped 1,600 for his career. He currently has 1,603.
ALSO SEEN: Other ex-Bears at Haas include all-time scoring leader Sean Lampley, former player & assistant coach Jon Wheeler and ex-coach Dick Kuchen.
HALFTIME SCORE: ASU 30, Cal 29. Randle scored on a floater in the lane with three seconds left to close the half. That came a minute after he his his first 3-pointer — Randle has seven points, matching the total of Christopher and Robertson. Cal is shooting 12-for-27 (44.4 percent), including 2-for-9 from 3PT. Shipp has 10 to lead ASU, which is shooting 14-for-27 (51.9 percent), including 2-for-12 from 3PT.
2:35 1st H: ASU leads 28-24 and Montgomery just called timeout. The game is being played at the Sun Devils’ pace — very few open-court, transition opportunities for the Bears. Randle is 1-for-5, although he has three assists. Cal shooting 10-for-23, 1-for-7 from 3PT. ASU is 13-for-25, 2-for-11.
7:53 1st H: ASU leads 20-19, but Markhuri Sanders-Frison is going to the FT line for two shots.
9:45 1st H: ASU leads 18-17, but Robertson will go to the FT line after the timeout to try to complete a three-point play after scoring on a hard drive to the basket. Cal is 8-for-18 from the field, just 1-for-7 from 3-PT. ASU is up to 8-for-16 and has gotten a huge lift off the bench from Jerren Shipp — you’ll remember his big brother, ex-Cal star Joe Shipp. Jerren has eight points, including two 3-pointers.
MORE NAMES: Jeff Tedford just greeted Fujita with a big hug.
K.J. IN THE HOUSE: Former Cal star and Sacto mayor Kevin Johnson is here. Also ex-Cal football star and New Orleans Saints LB Scott Fujita.
14:28 1st H: Cal leads 9-8. Bears are shooting 4-for-10, ASU 4-for-9. Both teams relying on the 3-pointer — and neither has found the range yet: Cal 1-for-4, ASU 0-for-5. Christopher — whose godfather Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons is in the house — has five points.
SENIOR STUFF: Big cheers all around for Cal’s five seniors — Jamal Boykin, Patrick Christopher, Nikola Knezevic, Theo Robertson and Jerome Randle — and their families. Knezevic’s parents could not come from Serbia, but Nikola had four friends from his homeland at his side. Now it’s time for business.
IT’S GOT TO BE THE SHOES: Two days after wearing silver Jordan Brand uniforms and shoes for their game against Arizona, the Bears are back in their home whites today. But shoe-freak Christopher is taking it up a notch with glow-in-the-dark gold Nikes. If you’re scoring at home, check ‘em out on CSNBA.
STARTING LINEUPS: Cal will go with Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Omondi Amoke and Jamal Boykin. Mike Montgomery said Friday he would not start reserve guard Nikola Knezevic on Senior Day simply because he’s a senior. ASU will go with Derek Glasser, Ty Abbott, Trent Lockett, Riahrds Kuksiks and Eric Boateng.
COMING ATTACTIONS: Cal’s three Southern California recruits were victorious in CIF Southern Section semifinal games Friday night. In 1AA play, Gary Franklin Jr. scored 18 points and top-seeded Mater Dei HS-Santa Ana beat Rancho Verde 94-58, advancing to Saturday’s title game against Etiwanda. Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon led No.1 seed Price HS-Los Angeles to a 66-54 win over Bishop Amat in the 4AA semis. Price faces Orange Lutheran in the Southern Section final.
RANDLE’S BROTHER: Jamie Adams, younger brother of Jerome Randle, scored 26 points Friday night, leading Hales Franciscan — ranked No. 4 in the Chicago Tribune poll — to a 79-64 win over Leo.
WELCOME: First, the news — Cal tells me every ticket for today’s game against Arizona State has been sold. It will be the first capacity crowd at Haas Pavilion all season, just the second in two years. With barely 30 minutes until tipoff the crowd is slow to arrive, but it will be here.
We’ll be back with starting lineups and a report on Senior Day ceremonies in a few minutes.