Kent: Railey just needed love to get going

WHAT IS IT THEY say, that all good things must come to an end? Bad things must too. And they did Sunday for Washington State when the Cougar men hoops team ended a 15-game Pac-12 road losing streak with a stunning 69-66 win over California in Berkeley. Clutch free throw shooting and an 18-point, 13-rebound performance by Josh Hawkinson snapped the streak that was nearly two years old.

"This team is so much better than the team I walked into the locker room nine months ago, and the fact that we're 14 games into it, they've grown immensely, but they have so much more growth potential left within them," WSU coach Ernie Kent said following the win.

Washington State (7-7, 1-1) shut down Cal (11-4, 1-1) with a strong defensive effort that allowed the Golden Bears to shoot just 38 percent from the field. Kent said afterward he thought it was the team's best defensive effort of the year.

Aside from Hawkinson, the Cougars also received a boost from their other big man, Jordan Railey, who finished with a career-high 17 points.

WSU outscored the Bears 26-22 in the paint.

"Jordan, I can't be more proud of an individual because he's taken a lot of hits from people losing confidence in him. I'll never forget coming to town and people telling me he can't do that, he can't do that, he's soft, and all those things," Kent said. "He's a big guy that needed to be loved and needed to get confidence and allow himself to grow. He's one of the great stories on this team."

Hawkinson (pictured above with Railey) dominated the game, recording his ninth double-double of the season. Hawkinson shot 6 of 6 from the free throw line, helping the Cougars overcome their woes from that area of the floor. WSU shot 72 percent (21 of 29) collectively from the foul line, many coming down the stretch as they attempted to put away California.

Though the Cougars led almost entirely throughout the second half, victory wasn't assured until the game's final pass. The Golden Bears pulled to within three points with 49 seconds remaining after Jordan Mathews sank a three-pointer. Cal elected to intentionally foul Ike Iroegbu with 36 seconds left, who hiked the lead to five when he nailed both free throws.

The Golden Bears played the intentional foul game for the rest of the way, but couldn't draw within four points until Iroegbu, who had been so clutch seconds earlier, mistakenly called a timeout the Cougars didn't have with two seconds remaining.

Cal made both free throws to pull to within 68-66, then fouled Davonte Lacy, who made one of his two free throws. But with only 1.1 seconds left, Cal didn't have enough to push the ball the length of the court and get a decent game-tying 3-point attempt.

"You make mistakes like that, the key thing is as long as you learn from those mistakes. I told him in the locker room I'm going to love him tonight but I may strangle him tomorrow when I look at tape because we talked in that huddle about our timeout situation right down to the stretch," Kent said of Iroegbu and the timeout blunder.

Iroegbu finished with 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, and 5-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line.

Washington State took the lead for good at 19-18 on a jumper by Hawkinson with 2:47 left in the first half. The Cougars led 24-20 at halftime, and briefly gave it up when Cal tied the score at 32-32 on Mathews layup. But WSU dug in and responded, building a 45-36 lead with 11:36 remaining on a Hawkinson jumper.

Nine points was Washington State's largest lead, but Cal never got closer than two points until Iroegbu's timeout gaffe late in the game.

  • 7,618 people were on hand for the game, with one seat occupied by former Cougar sharpshooter Klay Thompson, who got to spend time with the team in the locker room.

  • The Cougars committed 10 turnovers, and the Golden Bears committed nine; however, the Cougars were more resourceful with the mistakes they forced, outscoring Cal 10-6 in points off of turnovers.

  • Washington State outrebounded Cal 38-34, and outscored the Golden Bears 14-7 in second-chance points.

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