LOS ANGELES - California came out rushing against a UCLA team eager to keep its slim NCAA tournament hopes alive. Once the Golden Bears settled down, the Bruins were quickly sent packing for the season.
Jerome Randle scored 24 points, and Theo Robertson had 15 of his 20 in the second half when Cal dominated on its way to an 85-72 victory Friday night in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.
“In the second half, we threw the first punch,” Randle said. “We were able to sustain the lead.”
The top-seeded Golden Bears (23-9) advanced to today’s title game, where they’ll play No. 3 Washington at Staples Center.
Patrick Christopher added 16 points for the Bears, seeking their first league tournament title to go with their first outright regular-season championship in 50 years.
Michael Roll scored a career-high 27 points in his final game for fifth-seeded UCLA (14-18), which ended the season with its worst record since 2003-04, coach Ben Howland’s first in Westwood.
“To have a losing record is very, very disappointing with the success we’ve enjoyed the previous five seasons,” said Howland, whose tenure includes three consecutive Final Four appearances. “The key to it all is recruiting. We have three players that are coming in, and I’m going out to recruit at least a couple more. That’s the key.”
Jerime Anderson added 15 points. Freshman Reeves Nelson, who powered UCLA to a quarterfinal upset of Arizona, finished with eight.
Cal made 13 of 14 free throws over the final 5:13, with Randle hitting all six of his attempts.
Randle, the Pac-10 player of the year, surpassed 2001 player of the year Sean Lampley as Cal’s career scoring leader with 1,790 points.
“Sean can stop biting his nails,” Randle said. “He’s been calling me and asking when I’m going to do it and I said, ‘Be patient.’ It’s good I can do that and still win.”
The Bears came out playing defense in the second half, keeping UCLA scoreless on its first three possessions while taking their first lead, 40-39, on a 3-pointer by Robertson.
Robertson, Cal’s career 3-point shooting leader, hit three long-range baskets in the first eight minutes of the second half, when the Bears led 52-44. They shot 71 percent over the final 20 minutes.
UCLA was outscored 17-5 in that stretch and dissolved in a sequence of errors. The Bruins got no closer than seven points over the final six minutes.