7:00 PM ET, February 15, 2003
Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, California
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Richard Midgley's coaches, teammates and opponents all agree: The freshman point guard from England has a calm beyond his years or class standing.His clutch 3-pointer Saturday was just another example -- and it provided the final lead change in another tumultuous victory for California. Midgley scored 15 points and hit the decisive 3-pointer with 1:39 left as Cal (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) survived nine lead changes in the second half of a 58-53 victory over Washington. Joe Shipp had 16 points and seven rebounds, and Amit Tamir made a jumper in the lane with 51 seconds left as Cal (18-4, 11-2 Pac-10) stayed one game behind top-ranked Arizona in the conference race with its 17th straight home victory. Not many of the wins in the two-year streak were tougher than this one, which didn't feel safe until Midgley corralled a loose ball off Shipp's missed free throw with 5.8 seconds left. On an afternoon when the Golden Bears' transition defense and overall poise looked marginal, Midgley covered his teammates in many ways. "I don't care if they say he's 19,'' Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He plays like he's 24. They better check his birth certificate. He's very poised, very mature.'' The Bears won despite a subpar game from one of their top three scorers. Brian Wethers had just seven points, and he failed to join Shipp and Tamir in double figures for the first time in 19 games. Instead, Midgley raised his play, capping an outstanding game with two free throws in the final seconds. His emergence as a starter has been a boost to Cal's fortunes during the Pac-10 season. "I asked our players if we could find ways to get him a few shots,'' Cal coach Ben Braun said. "He had two shots that were right on the money. He hit two clutch free throws. With (Washington's) small lineup, he had to give us a big game.'' Cal had its lowest-scoring performance in a conference victory in 40 years, but Tamir scored 11 points as the Golden Bears won their fourth straight game. Neither team led by more than three points during the final seven minutes until Midgley followed his third 3-pointer with the clinching free throws. "These teams' records don't show how good they are,'' said Midgley, who attended high school in Modesto, Calif. "Washington is a real strong side. They're more talented than their record indicates. We knew this wouldn't be the easy game that some people thought.'' Nate Robinson and Curtis Allen scored 12 points apiece for the Huskies (8-14, 3-10), who lost their fourth straight. Washington trailed 55-53 when Will Conroy dribbled the ball out of bounds near the Huskies' bench with 14 seconds left. Cal is likely to maintain its place in the national rankings leading to next week's trip to Southern California to face the Pac-10's Los Angeles schools. A rematch with Arizona, which beat the Golden Bears 95-80 two weeks ago, will be Feb. 27 in Berkeley. "Well, I like the results of both games,'' Braun said. "We made plays down the stretch of both games that winning teams have to make. It just takes us a little longer to get there than we might like. There's certainly some areas we need to correct. We're not up to our standards in certain areas.'' In front of just its second sellout crowd at Haas Pavilion this season, Cal ended the game on an 8-1 run. Two nights earlier, the Bears scored the final nine points in a tough victory over Washington State. Washington has lost all six of its conference road games. Doug Wrenn, the Huskies' leading scorer, was held to six points on just seven shots in 30 minutes of constant pressure from a Cal defense clearly focused on him. "Those guys are experienced, and I think that was the edge they had,'' Romar said. "Hopefully, we'll eventually be able to say that about our guys.'' The Huskies were more athletic than Cal, breaking downcourt for layups and hustling for every loose ball. But the Golden Bears made the most of their open shots in the second half, and Washington couldn't get a field goal in the final 2:01. "It's draining to keep losing these games, especially since we're so close every time,'' Allen said.