DAVONTÉ LACY HIT GAME WINNER
WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone long has insisted that his team was capable of beating -- or losing -- against any team in the Pac-12. The Cougars proved that again Saturday when they defeated California, 77-75, to earn their second consecutive win against the first-place team in the Pac-12 in front of 5,031 fans at Friel Court.
Nothing came easy for WSU (11-8 overall, 3-4 conference) on Saturday. It appeared that the Cougars might have secured the win when freshman DaVonté Lacy, who had 14 points, hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 18.3 seconds left.
“To see him step up with that kind of confidence is great,” WSU senior forward Abe Lodwick said during a postgame radio interview. “He’s going to be a great player for years to come here.”
The trey gave WSU a 77-74 lead and the Cougars could have made it a two-possession game by converting the free throw.
But Lacy missed from the stripe.
The Golden Bears (16-5, 6-2) had an opportunity to tie the game, but guard Jorge Gutierrez, who scored a team-high 17 points, missed a 3-pointer. WSU junior center Brock Motum, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, collected the miss but then was called for traveling.
After a timeout, the Cougars elected to foul guard Justin Cobbs, who made his first free throw before missing the ensuing shot. California then collected the rebound. But a 3-pointer was short and Motum grabbed the rebound to secure the Golden Bears’ four-game winning streak.
WSU outrebounded California 33-30.
“We had a few guys that really battled in there,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “Our guys really fought hard, which you have to do against a physical team like Cal.”
The Cougars struggled to contain the Golden Bears during the first half as they made 17 of 32 shots en route to a 40-34 lead at the intermission. Cal entered the game second in the conference in field-goal percentage.
Enter Faisal Aden.
ADEN, WHO SCORED a career-high 33 points during Thursday’s 81-69 win against the Cardinal, nearly was as effective versus California. He made 9 of 12 shots to finish with a game-high 24 points as WSU improved to 7-0 this season at Friel Court.
“Faisal has been playing out of his mind the last two games,” Lodwick said. “When he gets going, it’s fun to watch.”
Aden, who made 19 of 29 shots and scored 57 points this week, likely will be the Pac-12 Player of the Week. But he hardly was the only significant contributor against the Golden Bears.
Lodwick, who scored all 12 of his points from beyond the arc, hit a 3-pointer to finish a 8-0 run that gave the Cougars their first lead, 47-44, during the second half.
“I might as well fire,” Lodwick said. “It’s my last year and I’ve got nothing to lose. That was a big moment in the game, not just for me but the team.”
California then responded with a 16-6 run that gave it a 60-53 edge on a jumper by Cobbs about midway through the second half.
Bone compared that point to WSU’s 13-point second-half deficit against Stanford.
“I think we showed some maturity during the course of the game when there were some difficult situations,” Bone said. “We hung in there.”
The Cougars later tied the game, 62-all, on a pair of free throws by Aden with 6:51 left. From that point, there were five lead changes and three ties -- the final on Lacy’s shot.
“That really didn’t surprise me,” Bone said. “DaVonté has stepped up and hit some big 3s.”
WSU NOW ARGUABLY has defeated the best teams in the conference, but also has lost 62-60 in overtime on Jan. 5 at Utah, which is one of the Pac-12 worst teams. The Cougars were just 3-6 in conference road games last season and have lost all three times on the road this year with games at Arizona and Arizona State coming up next week.
But Lodwick believes his team has a chance to get back into the Pac-12 race.
“Utah was a terrible effort on our part,” he said. “Since then, we’ve made good strides on the court even with losses at Colorado and Washington. We’re a team that’s continuing to improve and I think we’re going to finish strong.”
Junior point guard Reggie Moore did not score against the Golden Bears. WSU radio announcer Bud Nameck asked Bone afterward if he thought beforehand that the Cougars could have defeated California without Moore scoring.
“I would say it’s possible because Reggie embraces his role as point guard,” he said. “Reggie’s mature enough and understands how to win a game as a team.”
Motum finished with double-digit points despite scoring just two during the first half. Bone attributed some of that to the Golden Bears’ defense, but he said Motum’s lack of touches were a halftime conversation.
“We talk about that all the time,” he said. “We want Brock to get touches because we think he’s a good scorer.”
Bone is known for his dry sense of humor and displayed it again when discussing Aden. “Most coaches would start him,” he quipped. “He had a great weekend.”
The Cougars defeated California for a second consecutive season at Friel Court.
CAPERS SLAMS HOME 2 OF HIS 6 POINTS. HE ALSO HAD 3 STEALS.