The Washington Huskies men's basketball team withstood a surprisingly tough test from the California Bears to win their Pac-10 Conference opener 81-67 Friday afternoon at Edmundson Pavilion.

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The Washington Huskies men’s basketball team withstood a surprisingly tough test from the California Bears to win their Pac-10 Conference opener 81-67 this afternoon at Edmundson Pavilion.


Cal, on the verge of being blown out after falling behind by 16 four differing times in the first half, rallied to take the lead in the second half – the last time at 61-60 with just less than nine minutes left.


But Jamaal Williams hit two free throws, then scored on a nifty move close to the bucket to start a 10-0 run that put the Huskies ahead for good.


Cal missed five straight shots and didn’t score from the field for more than five minutes as UW gradually pulled ahead.


A highlight-reel tip-in by Nate Robinson of a Williams miss and an equally eventful lay-in that turned into a three-point play by Tre Simmons put UW ahead 79-66 with 1:37 left and sealed the deal.


UW led 41-32 at halftime, a margin that would have been greater had not the Bears scored the last seven points of the half, their only real outburst of the game to that point.


Cal, generally picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-10 and playing with just eight healthy scholarship players, then went on a 17-8 run to start the second half and tie the game at 49 with 13:35 left.


Simmons led the Huskies with 18 points. Four other UW players scored in double figures, led by Bobby Jones with 16.


Richard Midgley, Cal’s junior point guard, led the Bears with 18 points.


The game was tied 11-11 before UW went on a 22-6 run. The Huskies hit nine of 10 field goals during that stretch.


Simmons led a balanced UW scoring attack in the first half with eight points, while Will Conroy and Joel Smith had seven each.


The Huskies used the longball to take their early lead, hitting seven of their first 10 three-point attempts. But they hit only one in the second half, which allowed the Bears to come back.


The Huskies, 11-1 overall, will host Stanford at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The Bears, 7-4, will play Washington State in Spokane at 2 p.m. Sunday.


Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com