LOS ANGELES — Making nine of your first 10 shots from 3-point range covers a multitude of sins, and the equation worked marvelously for Cal in its 90-74 victory over Oregon in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament Thursday at Staples Center.
The top-seeded Golden Bears (22-9) may need to rebound better and commit fewer fouls tonight when they take on UCLA in the semifinals.
But against the Ducks (16-16), who completed an overtime game just 16 hours earlier against Washington State, shooting 3-pointers was something like batting practice. Nice easy pitches and no defense.
Jerome Randle, in his first game since being named Pac-10 Player of the Year, made all eight of his first-half shots and scored 22 points. He didn't score again, and it didn't matter.
The 5-foot-8 senior gave the Staples crowd a postcard of his explosive skills less than 2 minutes into the game when he sank a 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet, then stole a pass, drove to the basket, wrapped the ball around his back and converted a reverse layup.
"I just have these moments sometimes when it just feels good," Randle said. "When I hit the third shot, I felt like I wasn't going to miss. I was able to take good shots and it was falling."
"Yeah, but you missed two," coach Mike Montgomery teased.
Not that Oregon senior Tajuan Porter noticed.
"He had an unbelievable game," said Porter, who scored 26 points and broke the Pac-10 record for career 3-point baskets. "He's playing at a high level, taking his team and putting them on his back."
Ernie Kent, who may have coached his final game for Oregon, said the Bears did what they wanted even though the Ducks were prepared for it.
"Our strategy was to try to take the 3-point shot away from them. We didn't do a very good job of it," he said. "They just shot the lights out. I thought last year they were one of the best shooting teams in the country, and they're close to that right now.
"They're certainly ready for (NCAA) Tournament play."
The Bears, who won their first regular-season conference title in 50 years, are generally assumed to be safely into the NCAA field, which will be announced Sunday. But Montgomery was relieved to get this victory, because a first-round conference tournament loss potentially "starts all the conversation."
He acknowledged allowing Oregon 19 offensive rebounds and having most of his big men get into foul trouble but couldn't muster any real distress after a game in which the Bears led by as many as 25 points.
He got most of his regulars plenty of rest — Randle sat the final 12 minutes, and Omondi Amoke was the only player on the floor for 30 minutes.
"I told the guys we would do that," Montgomery said of using his bench. "I don't know if I believed it."
Sixth man Jorge Gutierrez, who was questionable to go after spraining his ankle Saturday at Stanford, played 19 minutes and seemed fine.
Patrick Christopher scored 21 points for the Bears, Jamal Boykin had 15 and Amoke had 12 points and nine rebounds, his first double-digit scoring game since Jan. 6.
Aside from Theo Robertson, who had an uncharacteristic 2-for-10 shooting game, the Bears' other starters combined to make 65.9 percent of their attempts.
The Bears know they will get a greater challenge from UCLA. The teams split two regular-season games, with Cal's 72-58 win at Pauley Pavilion last month triggering its current run of eight wins in nine games, including five in a row.
"Certainly anytime you play UCLA in L.A., you're going to have to be ready to go, and we're excited about it," Montgomery said.
For Kent, the one-time Stanford aide and Saint Mary's head coach, this might have been his exit. He reportedly told his players earlier this week he will be fired, although he would not address the subject during his postgame news conference.
"This is not the place," he said.
UCLA 75, Arizona 69: Freshman Reeves Nelson had 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Bruins (14-17) beat the Wildcats (16-15) in a quarterfinal between two powerhouses that once ruled the league but have struggled this season. Wearing protective glasses, Nelson played for the first time after missing four games with a slight retinal tear in his left eye.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Cal 90, Oregon 74
Stanford 70, Arizona St. 61
UCLA 75, Arizona 69
Washington 59, Oregon St. 52
Cal vs. UCLA, 6 p.m.
Stanford vs. Washington, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday: 3 p.m.