“Let’s wait until Thursday,” the Huskies coach said earlier this week. “If we come out Thursday and we have no energy, then we can bring in psychologists (and) psychiatrists.”
The Huskies faced California wearing their black alternate jerseys on the road for the first time and even had former Huskies Jon Brockman and Artem Wallace in the Haas Pavilion stands for a bit of good luck.
But no amount of lucky charms was going to stop Cal senior guard Jerome Randle, Cheap Jerseys from china who tormented UW with bull’s eye marksmanship and deft dribbling in 93 81 defeat that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.
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They’re winless in seven away games this season and they haven’t won a true road game since Feb. 21, 2009.
“I thought we came back in the second half and fought back,” Romar said. “I don’t think we quit at all.”
The Huskies didn’t quit, but they came out flat in the first half in front of 9,839 and a nationally televised ESPN2 audience.
Cal, which controlled the game from the start, led by as many as 19 (48 29) in the first half and carried a 48 34 advantage into halftime.
“We did a good job early on,” senior Quincy Pondexter said. “It wasn’t the regular road loss. Cal is a great team.”
Washington closed to 50 39 early in the second half and cut Cal’s lead to 74 65 with 6:47 left.
But the Bears pulled away on the next two possessions thanks to Randle, who scored a game high 33 points.
After Isaiah Thomas drained a three pointer to pull UW within nine, Cal reserve Jorge Gutierrez knocked Venoy Overton into Thomas, which left Randle open for a three.
On Cal’s next possession, Randle sank a layup on an assist from Gutierrez, and the Huskies never seriously threatened again.
“I knew what I was going to come out and do in this game,” Randle said. “I didn’t know if my scoring was going to be up to par, but I knew I was going to be aggressive.”
The Huskies threw everything they had at Randle. They started with Thomas, who held Randle to a season low five points and forced eight turnovers in the teams’ previous meeting, an 84 69 UW victory last month.
When Thomas couldn’t slow Randle, Washington turned to defensive aces Justin Holiday and Overton, but they too were no match for Randle, who converted 12 of 19 field goal attempts, including three three pointers.
“What happened in Seattle for him is something that rarely happens,” Romar said. “If you look around this league and you look at Jerome Randle the last two years, this isn’t the first night he’s done something like this.”
Jamal Boykin added 20 points and 11 rebounds for California. Patrick Christopher added 11 points and Gutierrez 10.
Thomas led Washington with 24 points and six rebounds. Pondexter added 18, Overton 15 and Matthew Bryan Amaning 13.
With a victory, Washington (16 8, 6 6 Pac 10) would have forced a first place tie with the Bears; instead, it falls two games behind Cal (16 8, 8 4) with six regular season games remaining.
The Huskies next play Saturday at Stanford.
Washington’s chance of repeating as conference champion requires the Bears to stumble in the final third of the Pac 10 season.
“We’re going to need some help now,” Romar said. “Prior to tonight’s game we didn’t need anyone’s help. Someone else is going to have to knock off people that are ahead of us.”