PULLMAN – Of all the last-minute madness witnessed at Beasley Coliseum on Saturday, one image endures.
It is of Washington State coach Ken Bone, and his fist, and his arm, both of which sliced through the air around him as DaVonte Lacy’s 3-pointer split the twine and Lacy screamed in celebration after a foul was whistled against California guard Jorge Gutierrez.
That basket, of course, was the lynchpin in WSU’s wild 77-75 win over first-place California. With the game tied at 74, Lacy caught a pass from Reggie Moore in the corner, fired and connected with 18.3 seconds remaining.
“I think we showed some maturity down the stretch,” Bone said. “Not just during the stretch, but during the course of the game where there were some difficult situations, things weren’t going our way, and yet we just hung in there and hung in there.”
Bone exulted as Lacy flexed his muscles and walked to the line. The 5,013 in attendance went berserk. But Lacy missed the free throw, Abe Lodwick turned the ball over after claiming the offense rebound, and Cal had another chance to tie.
Jorge Gutierrez missed a 3-pointer, and Brock Motum claimed the rebound. But the 6-foot-10 forward slid his pivot foot and was called for traveling, giving Cal the ball with 9 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Motum fouled Cal guard Justin Cobbs out top to prevent a 3-point attempt.
Cobbs made the first free throw and missed the second, but had the ball batted back out to him. He pump-faked. Then he dished to Gutierrez, who was off the mark with one final, desperation heave.
Thus completed the Cougars’ second comeback victory over a Pac-12 leader in as many games, this one in more dramatic fashion.
Beginning with Faisal Aden’s two free throws to tie the game at 62 with 6:51 remaining, there were 12 ties or lead changes the rest of the way.
Allen Crabbe made a 3-pointer to give Cal a 72-70 lead with 2:38 left. Marcus Capers dunked to tie it. David Kravish made a layup to put Cal back ahead. Motum scored inside on a nice pass from Abe Lodwick to tie it once more, at 74, with 1:32 remaining.
After a timeout, Crabbe missed a 3-pointer, but the Bears got it back thanks to one of their 11 offensive rebounds. Then Cobbs had the ball stolen by Capers as he tried to drive and dish – the primary stimulant to Cal’s offense the entire game – but Aden missed a transition layup, followed by a quick miss by Gutierrez and a rebound by Motum.
WSU called timeout with 30 seconds remaining. Lacy subbed in for Capers.
“It was just developed for Reggie to come off a pick and roll and make a play,” Lacy said of Moore, who didn’t score but had seven assists. “And with him being such a great point guard, he found me, and God willing, the ball went in.”
And it sealed an incredible three-day turnaround, one that saw the Cougars (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12) salvage their season after losing three consecutive games on the road.
The process may be what pleased Bone the most. WSU trailed by 13 in the second half against Stanford. Cal (16-5, 6-2) led by seven midway through the second half on Saturday. But on both occasions, timely stops and clutch shooting – the Cougars made 13 of 23 shots after halftime – allowed WSU to rally.
Lodwick made four 3-pointers, all at crucial junctures. Lacy finished with 14 points. Motum scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Some teams are front-runners,” Motum said. “Some teams, when the adversity strikes, everyone comes together. I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that.”