PULLMAN – DaVonte Lacy and Washington State tried to balance out a season’s worth of poor shooting against California, pouring in 3-pointers at a rate befitting a team that was first, not last, in shooting percentage among Pac-12 teams.
But the Cougars’ abnormal long-range accuracy came against an opponent that was equally hot from outside and just a speck better on Wednesday night, beating WSU 80-76 in overtime.
“I think we competed well, we were down about 10 at one point,” Lacy said. “Fought back, took the lead … played really well in overtime, had chances, Cal’s just a really good team. Beat the No. 1 team in the country and it wasn’t by accident.”
Cal (16-8, 7-4 Pac-12) led by three points with 5 seconds left and fouled Ike Iroegbu, sending the freshman to the free-throw line. Iroegbu made the first and intentionally missed the second, but the Golden Bears secured the rebound and Justin Cobbs rushed down the court to tack on an exclamatory dunk as the game clock expired.
“I thought pretty good, I’m proud of the way our guys battled and fought and played with a lot of energy and passion,” coach Ken Bone said.
Lacy, who missed six games with a rib injury, continues to make up for lost time, setting a career-high in scoring for the second time in three games. The junior had 34 points against Colorado last week.
Against Cal he poured in 39 points, hitting 8 of 15 3-pointers despite Cal’s best efforts to blanket him. The Cougars (9-15, 2-10 Pac-12) made 9 of 13 3-pointers in the second half, storming back from a 39-30 halftime deficit through superlative outside shooting.
“That’s not how we entered the game. In fact we wanted to go inside early and get some screening action but they guarded it a little differently and they made some adjustments,” Bone said. “It was because we made shots, especially DaVonte, when he’s shooting like that we give him the green light.”
D.J. Shelton was again a terror on the boards for WSU, collecting 19 rebounds to go with 18 points for his eighth double-double of the season.
“We played well, we played to their level. Our energy was great they did some good things, they just did things better. These are the games we have to learn from.”
Iroegbu made his second career start for the Cougars, in place of Royce Woolridge. However, Woolridge played 28 minutes to Iroegbu’s 16.
The strategy was unsuccessful, at least in this game, as Woolridge made just 1 of 6 shots, including several misses right next to the basket.
Despite a lackluster crowd of 1,913, the Cougars came out with arguably their best energy of the season. They stormed out to a 19-10 lead thanks to Shelton’s shooting, rebounding and a nice assist to Que Johnson for the game’s first basket.
“It’s real tough and frustrating and it just kind of picks your brain and makes you think about all the little things that we could have done,” Shelton said. “It was just a few possession game so anything that we did wrong (made a difference).”