Golden Bears scratch out a win against WSU

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

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The Cougars’ men’s basketball team fell to the California Golden Bears 73-66 Thursday at the Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

This loss brings WSU (10-6, 1-2) under .500 in conference play and gives California (7-8, 1-1) its first conference win of the season.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby led the Cougars in points once again with 22 points with nine rebounds. Senior forward Jeff Pollard finished with 50 percent shooting from the field and 11 points with three rebounds.

Freshman guard Noah Williams came off the bench and scored a career high 16 points on 62.5 percent shooting and shot six of six from the free throw line. Williams finished the first half with six points, a rebound, and a block.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton shot 50 percent from the field with 10 points. Bonton shot the ball just six times against Cal, before this matchup he averaged about 15 shot attempts a game.

California turned the ball over 10 times in the first 10 minutes of the game. WSU managed to score 16 points off the Golden Bears’ turnovers during this time and lead 25-11 with 9:45 left in the first half. This 14-point lead was the largest from WSU throughout the half.

The Cougars led 29-15 with under eight minutes left in the first half. However, California went on a 17-2 run to flip the lead to 32-31. The Golden Bears led 40-34 at halftime with Cal sophomore guard Matt Bradley leading the game in scoring with 14.

WSU grabbed 10 rebounds during the half, a new season low, and held California to 55.56 percent from the field, just shy of the most allowed by the Cougars all season.

Elleby started the Cougars’ second half scoring himself with the first six points for WSU to decrease the Golden Bears’ lead to 44-40. Cal then went a 10-1 run that put the Cougars in another double-digit deficit with 13:38 left in the game.

WSU chipped Cal’s lead down to seven with four and a half minutes left on the clock. Foul trouble became the difference maker for multiple Cougar players late in the second half as Elleby, Bonton, and Williams each had four fouls.

With 28 seconds left on the clock, Bradley hit the dagger 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with Williams defending. Bradley finished the game with 26 points, a new career high for him and second most points allowed by an individual from the Cougar defense this season.

After a follow-up missed three-pointer from Bonton and a free throw from Bradley, California closed out with a 73-66 victory.

WSU made 21 free throws tonight compared to the Golden Bears’ 17 made free throws. This is the first time all season that the Cougars lost to a team that made fewer free throws than WSU.

The Cougars’ next game is against the Stanford Cardinal at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Maples Pavilion in Stanford, California. The game can be watched on the Pac-12 Networks.