Washington State’s defense shuts down Cal in 66-59 win at the Pac-12 tourney
Washington State’s defense was suffocating. At the rim it was unyielding.
It didn’t matter that the seventh-seeded Cougars only hit 36% of their shots against No. 10 seed California. Cal was given absolutely nothing. The Golden Bears shot 23% from the field in the first half. Aside from a little 5-for-6 stretch over the game’s final 2:39—Washington State was up double-digits so the hot spell didn’t much matter—Cal was at 26% shooting.
The Golden Bears finished at 31%. Washington State sank 20 of its 23 foul shots, hit timely triples, got an excellent performance from Efe Abogidi, and downed Cal 66-59 to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 2022 Pac-12 Tournament.
Washington State put four in double-figures scoring. Abogidi’s 19 points led the way. Tyrell Roberts added 14. Michael Flowers and TJ Bamba each pitched in 12.
The Golden Bears were led by Jordan Shepherd, who scored 19 points but was never really able to find a groove. He had four steals, but finished 1-for-5 from 3 and turned it over four times.
Jalen Celestine was the only other Cal player to reach double-digits. He finished with 11 points, but dealt with foul trouble all night.
The Cougars were actually beat pretty handedly on the glass (48-35) and outscored in transition, but Cal had 14 turnovers in 68 possessions. To shoot that poorly and give the ball away on a fifth of your chances, few teams can win games that way.
Washington State head coach Kyle Smith called it a physical team (in Cal) and a physical game all-around. Free throw shooting was the difference. Cal missed six free throws and lost by seven. The Cougars hit at an 87% clip from the charity stripe.
Up next: No. 2 UCLA. The Cougars (19-13) will need the defense to carry over if they’re going to continue in the tournament, but it was a promising start. They’ll battle with the Bruins Thursday at 6 p.m. PT.
Cal’s season comes to a close at 12-20.