Cal has first road win, Cougars lose

‘They just outplayed us’ head coach says; final score 66-57



Freshman Noah Williams looks to move up the court against California on Wednesday evening at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball fell short to the University of California Golden Bears 66-57 after a failed late game comeback in the final two minutes of the game.

WSU’s (14-13, 5-9) leading scorer was junior forward Tony Miller, his second time leading the team in points. He scored 18 points off the bench, tying his career high. Seven of his 18 points came from the free throw line, a new career high.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby scored 13 points on four of 18 shooting. Elleby said the offense should try and find more assisted baskets in the future to avoid shooting slumps like the ones in this game.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton remained inactive for WSU. Junior guard Jervae Robinson said this fact should not influence the reasoning behind WSU’s recent losses.

“When someone has the ball in their hands the majority of the game and then they’re just gone, of course that makes a difference,” Robinson said. “We’re a team; we’re not just going to blame it on one person. Just got to keep playing.”

The Cougars went with a taller starting lineup against Cal (11-15, 5-8) and started junior forward Marvin Cannon at forward. This was Cannon’s first start of the season; he finished the game with six points.

Head coach Kyle Smith does not know of any specific changes in the lineup going forward and he is not searching for weaknesses in the lineup to make any.

After a scoreless three and half minutes to start the game, freshman guard Noah Williams scored WSU’s first basket. WSU held Cal to five points during this drought. Two minutes later, the Golden Bears extended their lead to 10-4.

Cal scored five straight points and then with 11:32 left in the half, the Cougars finally scored their third basket of the game off an Elleby 3-pointer. It took another three minutes for the Cougars to score again.

All of WSU’s attempts of establishing a run were cut short, the most points WSU scored in a row was five.

At halftime, the Golden Bears led 32-20 and broke their season record for fewest points allowed in a half. WSU shot nine percent from three at halftime, tying its season low 3-point percentage in a half.

WSU scored 15 seconds into the second half off an Elleby layup and then again 19 seconds later off an Elleby dunk. A 3-pointer from Robinson two minutes later forced Cal to call timeout as WSU capped off a 7-2 run to start the second half.

Though WSU’s momentum seized for the next seven minutes as the Cougars did not score another field goal until 10 minutes left in the game.

WSU cut Cal’s lead down to single digits off a 3-pointer from Robinson with 8:41 left on the clock. After this point, WSU and Cal battled between nine-point and 11-point leads for three minutes.

Once Robinson fouled out with 4:24 left in the game, Cal took a 13-point lead. WSU had 20 fouls at the end of the game, 16 in the second half.

WSU began one last comeback attempt after a media timeout with 3:53 on the clock. Two straight misses from Cal at the free throw line fueled a 5-0 run for WSU. Cal, leading 58-52, called a timeout with 2:34 left in the game.

Both teams scored four points in the following minute and a half which led to a WSU timeout with 55 seconds left in the game; Cal still led 62-56.

Cal scored a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left and a missed layup from Williams started garbage time for the Golden Bears.

Cal defeated WSU 66-57 for its first road win of the season. This is WSU’s first home loss against Cal since 2016. WSU remains winless when trailing teams in the final five minutes.

“Our coaches let us know that we dominated 16 out of the 20 minutes in the second half,” Elleby said. “Just a few plays we couldn’t stop.”

Smith did not mention anything that stuck out about any takeaways from Cal’s road win to assert towards a WSU road win.

“They just outplayed us,” Smith said. “We got to play better.”

WSU will face the Stanford Cardinal at 5 p.m. Sunday in Beasley Coliseum, the last home game of the 2019-20 season. The game will air on ESPNU.