D.J. SHELTON WITH ONE OF HIS 11 REBOUNDS
WHATEVER WASHINGTON STATE is doing at halftime, they might want to change it. On Saturday at Cal, the Cougs again came out of the locker room flat and a scrappy, 34-33 game turned into a runaway train. The Cougs allowed the Bears to shoot a scorching 70 percent in the second half and were outscored 42-22 on the way to the 76-55 loss, their fifth conference defeat in six tries.
In the first half, Washington State battled back. In the second, they took a 10-count.
Cal (14-4, 5-) opened the game on a 6-0 run but the Cougs went on an 18-4 run of their own. The Bears then rained threes to take a 24-18 lead. But once again WSU counter-punched, using a 7-0 spurt to forge a 25-24 advantage.
The Cougs 1-1-3 zone had Cal players glassy eyes at times but the key in that first half, Ken Bone said after the game, was tempo.
“We played at our speed, which we needed to do,” said Bone.
But if WSU (8-10, 1-5) was in the driver’s seat for the first 20 minutes, the entire second half saw the Cougs unable to locate the gas pedal, the brake or even the car itself.
“They came out and they punched us in the mouth and we never got up. That’s hard to take and it’s hard to see,” said Bone.
Cal outscored Washington State 40-10 in the paint.
COUGAR SENIOR POST D.J. Shelton notched another double-double, his fourth of the season, with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He connected on 7-8 free throws.
“D.J. did a good job…really proud of the way he rebounded, and he scored well,” said Bone.
Que Johnson led the way for the Cougs with 18 points. The outside shots weren’t fouling so Johnson took it to the hoop more than usual. Especially early, it was a successful strategy. Johnson was 8-9 from the line for the game, shooting 4-14 from the field.
“He did a nice job of driving it… getting to score at the free throw line that way,” said Bone of Johnson.
BUT A POROUS Washington State defense in the second half allowed for a lot of open looks and easy buckets for Cal.
“They were hard to keep in front of us… Our transition D was very poor,” said Bone.
So was the Cougs’ shooting in the second half, where would-be shooters seemed hesitant to pull the trigger. After shooting 40 percent in the first half, Washington State shot a desultory 27 percent from the floor after halftime.
THE COUGS return home next week to face the Oregon schools. To say Washington State is in need of a win or two against UO and OSU is like saying water is wet -- Bone implied post-game that the blowout losses are wearing on the players mentally.
“Hopefully we can stay together,” said Bone, before quickly adding that he believes his team’s character and work ethic will ensure just that.
YOU’D THINK THIS PICTURE OF COUGAR BACKUP James Hunter AT CAL ON SATURDAY PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME. BUT THE SHOT WAS ACTUALLY TAKEN IN THE FIRST HALF WHEN THE COUGS PLAYED SCRAPPY BALL AND TRAILED BY ONE, 34-33, AT INTERMISSION.
Washington State won the turnover battle, 21-9 but Cal shot 57 percent from the floor for the game, while the Cougs hit just 34 percent of their shots.
Jordan Railey made the first Pac-12 field goal of his career and finished with a personal-Pac-12-best 4 points. His 5 rebounds were also a Pac-12 high.
Washington State was 9-10 from the free throw line in the first half and 18-22 for the game. The Cougs, for the first time in recent memory, had more trips to the line than their opponent. Cal was 13-20 from the line. The Cougs outrebounded Cal 17-14 in the first half and 31-25 for the game.
Washington State opened the second half shooting 3-13, while Cal hit 7-11 shots.
The Cougars managed only a pair of baskets by Shelton through the first nine minutes of the second half and trailed by as many as 23.
Apart from Shelton and Johnson, the Cougs’ next leading scorer was Dexter Kernich-Drew, who managed five points on 1-8 shooting.
WSU's leading scorer, junior DaVonté Lacy, did not play due to injury for the fourth straight game.