BERKELEY, Calif. — After getting a steal in the backcourt and scoring an easy bucket, something Portland State did numerous times throughout the night, Brandon Hollins walked toward the visitor’s bench and emphatically celebrated.
The Vikings are definitely enjoying themselves these days. With another win over a power conference school, it’s easy to see why too.
Holland Woods had 12 points and a season-high 13 assists and Portland State beat California 106-81 on Thursday night in the final nonconference game for both teams.
Bryce Canda scored 23 points to lead six Vikings players in double figures. Deontae North added 20 points including 14 in the second half, Michael Mayhew scored 15 points on a career high-tying five 3-pointers and Hollins had 12 points and six rebounds.
“It felt good, Pac-12 versus Big Sky,” Hollins said. “It’s a lot of people asleep so it’s like, wake them up. Why not wake them up physically and mentally? That’s been our motto the whole year.”
The Vikings (10-3) had never won 10 games before Christmas until their blowout of California at Haas Pavilion.
That added to an already impressive nonconference slate for Portland State. The Vikings also have wins over Utah State, Stanford, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara this season.
Not bad for a team that has spent all but three games on the road this season.
“They’ve really bought into the new guy and they’ve dove into the system,” first-year Portland State coach Barret Peery said. “They play their hearts out for us. We had great contributions from so many guys tonight.”
As has been the case all season, Peery’s team used its smothering pressure defense to set the tone. Portland State forced Cal into a season-high 26 turnovers that led to 40 points.
The Vikings also held a 26-6 advantage in assists.
“It just felt like everything was going for us,” Hollins said.
It was the second game between the two schools and the first since 1997.
Don Coleman scored 19 points and Marcus Lee had 15 points and nine rebounds for California (6-7). The Golden Bears had won three straight but fell behind early and trailed all game.
California’s frustrations boiled over late in the first half when Nick Hamilton was called for a technical foul after shoving Hollins in the face during a break in play.
“Just very disappointed in our effort tonight,” Bears coach Wyking Jones said. “Us digging a hole and not fighting to get out of it, I thought we had matured enough and grew enough to get past that. Once we get into a hole, our guys get sped up.”
Portland State’s 10-3 record is their best nonconference mark in school history. “It’s a credit to our guys and how they’ve bought in and how they’ve sold out to play hard and just get after it,” Peery said. “Almost every night you pull out a stat sheet, different guys are contributing, different guys are plugging in.”
Portland State: A perfect final tune-up before beginning the Big Sky Conference schedule next week. The Vikings ran their defense flawlessly and capitalized on almost every mistake the Bears made, as evidenced by their 31 points off turnovers in the first half. The formula offensively was a simple one, too. They got the ball low to 7-foot-1 center Ryan Edwards early and balanced that with crisp shooting from the perimeter throughout the game. Edwards also had seven blocked shots. . Traylin Farris missed his seventh game with an ankle injury.
California: Whatever progress the Bears made during their three-game winning streak was wiped away after another lopsided loss at home. Cal never solved Portland State’s press and rarely looked comfortable on offense. With conference starting, things won’t get any easier for Jones and his crew.
Portland State: The Vikings play their Big Sky Conference opener at Sacramento State on Dec. 30.
California: Opens the Pac-12 schedule against Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 30.