BERKELEY, Calif. - Washington State blew another big halftime lead Saturday, but say this for the Cougars: They did so in entertaining fashion.
The young Cougars gave the veteran Bears a ferocious fight before Cal scored the only 15 points in the final 4 minutes of an 86-70 Pacific-10 Conference triumph at Haas Pavilion.
“We’re pretty young,” WSU freshman point guard Reggie Moore said. “In a couple years, we’ll probably be just like them.”
WSU led 45-34 at the half after a memorable shooting performance by Klay Thompson, who nailed all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half while pouring in 23 of his 28 points.
The first-place Bears scored the first eight points of the second half, then the teams swapped the lead seven times. Cal pulled away with help from two Jerome Randle free throws that resulted from a technical foul on Cougars coach Ken Bone with 2:43 remaining and WSU trailing by five.
“The technical foul did not help the situation whatsoever,” Bone said.
Bone drew the technical for complaining about what he thought was undue physical play against Thompson.
Thompson said he was unaware of the pack of NBA scouts attending the game, but he put on quite a show in the first half for the scouts and 9,536 fans.
“Once a great scorer like that gets going, it’s tough,” California guard Patrick Christopher said.
Christopher should know, since he guarded Thompson most of the afternoon. Christopher played Thompson more aggressively as the game wore on, and Thompson was limited to five points in the second half on 2-for-7 shooting (0-for-3 on 3s) after he enjoyed 8-of-11 accuracy in the first half.
The Cougars were dazzling in the first half, shooting 65 percent from the field, including 75 percent (6-of-8) on 3-pointers. The Bears countered by shooting 59 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game.
Randle kept Cal (17-8 overall, 9-4 Pac-10) in striking range in the first half by nailing four 3-pointers for 12 points. Randle finished with 24 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
Christopher added 19 points, Jamal Boykin had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Jorge Gutierrez contributed 15 points, six assists and four steals.
DeAngelo Casto scored 13 points, the only WSU player besides Thompson to reach double figures, and had five blocks.