Derrick Low and Taylor Rochestie outplayed Cal's backcourt. Cal star Ryan Anderson said, "We really played their pace. They really controlled the tempo the whole way and took us out of our game plan."
The loss virtually ended any hope the Bears might have had of making the NCAA tournament. At 6-9, Cal would need to win their final 3 games to hit the .500 mark, and that is unlikely. The more immediate question is can this team recover by Saturday to put forth a decent effort on Senior Day against the Washington Huskies.
As seems to be their pattern, Cal got off to a slow start. After DeVon Hardin's follow shot made it 2-2, the Cougars opened up a 9-2 lead, and Cal was climbing uphill for the rest of the night. Jerome Randle's lone three-pointer of the night made it 12-10 at the 12:44 mark, and that was as close as the home team would get. WSU extended the lead to 11, 31-20 before Cal scored the final 6 points of the half.
WSU made 43% of their shots in the opening 20 minutes, against just 36% for Cal. The Bears were 1 for 12 from long distance. Cal stayed in the game at the foul line. It was a particularly difficult half for Patrick Christopher, who went 1 for 6 from the floor and committed 4 turnovers. Christopher suffered an injury to his left hip early in the game that hindered his mobility. After the game, Christopher indicated that he expected to play Saturday. Ryan Anderson led Cal with 11 first half points, but had just 1 rebound. DeVon Hardin had 6 boards.
The second half began with a Cougar turnover, but then the visitors took over. Rochestie hit a trey to make the score 36-26, and the rout was on. WSU hit 11 of their next 12 shots. Back to back threes by Low made it 53-38 with 11:07 left, and the Bears were done. The Cougars ran their offense as if they were doing a walk-through in the second half. They were 14 for 21 after the break, 67%.
After the game, a glum DeVon Hardin was critical of the team's effort. He said, "Every time we go into a game, it's the most important game of the year. I just wish we would play like it more often."
Ben Braun gave the Cougars credit, and said, "They have a way, if you're not at your best, they'll expose you."
Cal's coach noted the Bears' lack of patience both offensively and defensively. On the offensive end, that contributed to 16 turnovers, which led to 21 Cougar points - far too many turnovers in a game with fewer possessions. The visitors recorded 8 steals.
Defensively, the breakdowns led to open shots. Braun noted, "Our help defense wasn't good. We did a poor job of getting through the screens."
The Washington game will not be easy. Coming off a tough loss at Stanford, the Huskies will be looking to spoil Senior Day and get out of the Bay Area with a split. Looking forward to his final home game, Hardin said, "I'd like to go out with a win, to see the team play hard and stick to our fundamentals. That's not what we did tonight."
Considering the stakes, this was a disappointing performance. It would be hard to find a solid performance from anyone. Anderson had 17 points, but was just 5 for 15 from the floor. Hardin had 10 boards, but just 1 on the offensive glass.
Perhaps the most telling stat of the game was Cal's 2 for 18 on three-pointers. It's almost impossible to beat the Cougars without knocking down some shots from the perimeter, because they won't give you much inside.
The combination of poor defense, turnovers, and poor shooting was a recipe for disaster. On this night, Cal got what they deserved.Game notes:
- Rochestie played brilliantly, leading WSU with 18 points, 6 assists and no turnovers. He was 6 for 9 from the floor, 4 of 5 on threes.
- Low had 15 points, and also did not turn it over.
- Aron Baynes contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds.
- The Cougars had 17 assists on their 26 field goals.
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