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Josh Hawkinson, Jordan Railey lead WSU past Cal

Cougars win first conference road game in nearly two years

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 4, 2015

BERKELEY, Calif. – At the conclusion of last year’s Pac-12 basketball season, Washington State was the only school without a conference win on the road. After one weekend of Pac-12 action in the new year, the Cougars are the only team that has beaten a conference foe away from its home court. After nearly two years and 15 conference away games without a road win over a Pac-12 school, WSU’s 69-66 victory in front of 7,618 stunned fans in Haas Pavilion on Sunday was about the best the Cougars have played in at least that long. And Sunday saw Jordan Railey at his best since, well, ever. Railey scored a career-high 17 points. He had two authoritative blocks, followed teammate’s misses with commanding dunks and made a critical hook shot with the shot clock winding down and the Cougars nursing a two-possession lead. He created a matchup problem all night for the Golden Bears, who had nobody on the roster that could shut down the nimble 7-footer. This from a player that averaged three points per game last season after transferring from Iowa State, where he was not a significant contributor. “Jordan Railey is really starting to come on, and for him to want the ball down the stretch, and go score the ball, that’s just a huge emotional confidence builder,” said coach Ernie Kent. Railey’s confidence was already climbing after a pair of 12-point outings to finish the nonconference schedule and then a solid performance against Stanford on Friday. In that game, the Cougars (7-7, 1-1 Pac-12) jumped out to an early lead but were unable to sustain their good play, eventually losing 71-56. Against Cal (11-4, 1-1) the Cougars again were the team most ready to play coming off the bus. And this time they fended off every charge by the Golden Bears, making 9 of 11 free throws in the final two minutes to seal the win. “It’s very, very difficult to put away a team in a close game on their home floor with the energy in the building, all the fans are sitting there, you’ve got some great shooters on that team – Cal has had a tremendous season so far,” Kent said. “To weather all of that, all of this is positive right now for us because they haven’t been in this situation before.” The Cougars are passing the ball better and finished the game with 15 assists. Freshman point guard Ny Redding did not score but picked up six assists against just two turnovers and the movement kept Cal’s defense stretched despite WSU attempting a season-low eight 3-pointers. The Cougars did make one critical error down the stretch when Ike Iroegbu called for a timeout while trying to inbound the ball with his team up four and just 2.7 seconds left in the game. WSU did not have any timeouts remaining and the Golden Bears were given two free throws to make it a one-possession game. “I think the uncomfortability of being in this situation certainly cost us a tough play down the stretch but we got it done,” Kent said. “We talked through the last two or three timeouts. We knew exactly what to do. We just made a tough decision down there by a veteran basketball player and hopefully he’ll learn from it.” Iroegbu had put the Cougars in position to win by hitting 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch, finishing with 12 points and three assists. Josh Hawkinson recorded his sixth consecutive double-double and ninth of the season, leading the team in scoring with 18 points and rebounding with 13 boards. DaVonte Lacy chipped in 14 points and Brett Boese gave the Cougars 18 good minutes as a third big man, scoring six points.
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