The Washington State Cougars just can’t have an easy, stress-free win. Still, head coach Ken Bone and the Cougs have to be happy on Saturday night after hanging on down the stretch in a 75-71 win over the Cal Bears at Friel Court in Pullman. After a disheartening loss to Stanford on Thursday, Washington State’s win over Cal was just what the doctor order.
Though Washington State took control in the second half, the Bears always seemed to battle back, closing the gap to just three points with 10 seconds to go. Jorge Gutierrez had a look for the tie and nearly buried a long-range jumper, only to see his shot hit every part of the rim, go halfway down and pop out. Faisal Aden hit one of two at the line on the other end, sealing the much-needed win for Washington State.
It was a strong effort for the Cougs’ reserves, with the top-two scorings coming off the bench. Brock Motum had a career-high 19 points to lead the Cougs, making the most of his 27 minutes. Faisal Aden struggled with inconsistency throughout, but finished with 18 points. DeAngelo Casto added 14 points, but had Washington State fans holding their breath after going down in a heap with an apparent ankle injury in the second half. He recovered, and returned to the game shortly thereafter, as fans breathed a sigh of relief. Klay Thompson finished with 13 points and Reggie Moore had 11 as five Cougs were in double-figures.
Gutierrez overcame a horrendous first half, scoring all 19 of his points in the final 20 minutes. Harper Kamp added 17 points, with Jeff Powers pitching in 14 points while starting in place of injured guard Allen Crabbe. Kamp had a game-high nine rebounds, with Richard Solomon adding another seven boards off the bench.
Washington State improved 17-8 on the year, including a 7-6 mark in Pac-10 play. The Cougs sit alone in fourth place, three games back of the Arizona Wildcats. Cal fell to 13-12 on the year, with a 6-7 conference record.