Cougars begin final homestand

Golden Bears come to Pullman, Cougars may be without starting point guard Isaac Bonton



Sophomore guard CJ Elleby throws up a shot after being fouled during the Apple Cup matchup Feb. 9 at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball will face the University of California Golden Bears at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum.

This is WSU’s (14-12, 5-8) second game against Cal (10-15, 4-8) this season. WSU lost the first matchup 73-66 on the road, one of two single-digit road losses this season for the Cougars.

This last matchup was the first loss of an ongoing streak in conference road play this season for WSU. Cal comes into Pullman with a similar statistic as the Golden Bears accumulated all their wins this year at home and none on the road.

Senior forward Jeff Pollard said he looks at this matchup against Cal as a combination of getting a revenge win and re-establishing the team’s roots.

“The Bay Area trip was not a successful trip for us,” Pollard said. “It’s an opportunity to hit them back and make up for [the loss].”

Cal sophomore guard Matt Bradley achieved his season high in points against WSU in January with 26. Bradley ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in points per game with 17.8 compared to sophomore forward CJ Elleby ranking third with 18.7 points per game.

“He’s really kind of a battering ram; he’s like a smaller CJ [Elleby],” head coach Kyle Smith said. “We’ll have to throw a lot of different guys at him.”

In addition to his previous performance against WSU, Bradley brought in 10 rebounds. This is the second time this season that a player shorter than 6 feet 5 inches grabbed double-digit rebounds against WSU.

The WSU coaches consistently remind the team about rebounding at the guard position, Pollard said.

“Say it how it is, we’re not the biggest team in the Pac,” Pollard said. “So, it takes more than two guys; sometimes it takes more than three guys to corral the rebound.”

Junior guard Isaac Bonton injured his hip in the overtime period against UCLA on Thursday. Smith said Bonton’s recovery is progressing well but remains doubtful for participation against Cal.

In WSU’s recent loss to USC, the Cougars scored eight points off the bench. Smith said the team may experiment with junior forward Marvin Cannon’s inclusion in the rotation and possibly start him given Bonton’s injury.

“We’re either going to bring him off [the bench] or start him, just to get him going.” Smith said. “We need him without Isaac.”

Freshman guard Ryan Rapp said the team will somewhat suffer without Bonton against Cal, but everyone on the team is ready to play their role to succeed without him.

“We’re going to have to step up in the right way,” Rapp said. “We don’t have to necessarily score; we just got to make sure we get our team set and our offense. Whoever scores, scores.”

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum. The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.