LOS ANGELES — The dirty work had been done. Cal's first victory over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion in four years was assured when point guard Jerome Randle spotted teammate Patrick Christopher slashing to the basket.
He threw an alley-oop pass toward the rim and Christopher dunked it, putting the exclamation point on a 72-58 victory that keeps the Golden Bears in first place in the Pac-10.
"It was kind of like stars in my eyes," Randle said. "I had the layup, but it felt better seeing him flush the ball like that."
Christopher, who grew up in Los Angeles and never had beaten the Bruins here, said he and Randle haven't often teammed up for that play this season.
"We're saving it for the end, and the time is now," he said. "It definitely felt good, but it felt even better to get the win."
The margin of victory was Cal's biggest over UCLA at Pauley since a 104-82 rout fueled by Jason Kidd in 1993, and the outcome was critical for the Bears (15-8, 7-4), who had lost two in a row, including a disheartening 63-60 decision at USC two days earlier.
Things didn't start well. UCLA (11-12, 6-5) jumped out to a 22-8 lead, prompting a series of lineup changes by Cal coach Mike Montgomery.
"Obviously, had something good not happened pretty soon, it could have gotten ugly," Montgomery said. "All of a sudden we made a play — I think Jerome hit a 3. Then it was like, 'We're OK.' We started playing defense and the rhythm of the game changed."
After a dunk by UCLA freshman Tyler Honeycutt made it 24-11, Cal outscored the Bruins 26-6 the rest of the half, punctuated by an 11-0 run to close the period. The Bears moved the ball, shot it well and knocked the Bruins off their rhythm after they made 10 of 11 shots during one early stretch.
Christopher, Theo Robertson and Randle hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the half, and Robertson fed Jamal Boykin for a layup with three seconds left that made it 37-30. The Bruins got within 55-50 with 8 minutes to go, but Cal attacked the middle of their zone, answering with a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 12 points.
The contributions came from everyone.
"I felt like everybody did a little bit more of what they're capable of," Montgomery said. "I thought Jerome did a marvelous job of running the team. He really was in charge, he was patient, hit the open guy, hit shots when he had the opportunity, never really panicked."
Randle finished with 14 points and seven assists, while Christopher and Robertson each scored 20 for the Bears, who shot nearly 55 percent for the game. Jorge Gutierrez, Omondi Amoke and, especially, junior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison provided grit.
"That's my job, to be that guy who brings energy, to be an enforcer," said Sanders-Frison, who had six points and six rebounds and allowed the Bears to display a rare physical personality.
"Ferocious," Christopher called him, adding that Gutierrez and Amoke were equally important. "The glitz and glamour of scoring is all good. Those kind of players win championships."
NEXT GAME: Thursday, vs. Washington,