The Cal men’s basketball team came out Saturday looking just like the team that dropped an ugly 62-47 contest with Washington on Wednesday night, still plagued by turnovers and poor box outs.
Luckily for the Bears, their opponents were even worse.
Despite surrendering 21 offensive rebounds, Cal held on to a 67-54 win over Washington State Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion, notching the squad’s first home Pac-12 win of the season.
The Bears (10-6, 2-2 in the Pac-12) came out of the gates flat and continued to struggle to close out defensive possessions. Yet the Cougars (9-7, 0-3) failed to capitalize on Cal’s mistakes, connecting on just 10 of its first 28 shots — including just one of its first eight three pointers. Even forward Brock Motum — the Pac-12’s second leading scorer — only managed 10 points on eight first half shots.
“We were out of sync on our offense,” Motum said. “I missed a couple of easy shots. They had a lot of length inside.”
But Cal simply couldn’t take care of the ball, racking up 10 first half turnovers — including six in a row during one stretch — and finishing the game with 19, preventing the Bears from taking advantage of the Cougars’ offensive ineptitude.
Junior guard Justin Cobbs was a complete non-factor in the first half, failing to even attempt a shot in the first 20 minutes. He and Crabbe — the squad’s top two scorers who average over 35 points a game together — combined for two first half shot attempts and four points.
“They looked a little tentative, and I’m sure there is a reason why,” Washington State coach Ken Bone said. “My guess is that they might have been trying really hard to do the things that coach Montgomery wants them to do.”
And yet the Bears took a 29-27 advantage into halftime after forward Robert Thurman cleaned up a missed Tyrone Wallace three to end the half.
“I guess we’ve got to just keep on our offense, and keep getting sharper in practice,” Crabbe said. “It got sloppy at some points, but I’m just glad we got the win. We really needed it.”
The sloppy play translated into the second half, when the Bears continued to struggle stringing quality possessions together to separate themselves from the Cougars.
But things finally started to click, as a pair of Wallace — who led the Bears with 16 points — layups gave Cal a 56-49 lead with under four minutes to play. A pair of David Kravish free throws extended that lead to nine, Cal’s largest lead of the game.
Then it was free throws the rest of the way for the Bears, who sank eight in a row for the win, closing on a 15-5 run.
“We’re going to have to play defense, we’re going to have to get more physical,” coach Mike Montgomery said. “People have pretty much handled us, and we’re going to have to push back a little bit.”
Contact Connor Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org