In what is becoming a recurring nightmare for the Washington State University men's hoop team, the Cougars once again built up a big, double digit first half lead only to allow an opponent to come back and claim the victory. This time the opponent was Pac-10 leading California. The Bears came from 11 points down at halftime to win going away over the Cougars, 86-70 in Berkeley. With the loss, the Cougars fall to 15-10 overall and 5-8 in the Pac-10.
The two teams stayed close for the first five minutes as neither the Cougars nor Bears could establish dominance early. But Wazzu, riding the hot hand of sophomore Klay Thompson went on a 12-2 run that gave them a 22-12 lead with 11:41 remaining in the first half. From there, the Cougars held the lead, even though the Bears clipped it down to five or six points on several occasions behind the shooting of point guard Jerome Randle. Wazzu head coach Ken Bone put sophomore defensive specialist Marcus Capers on Bone and Capers effectively shut down Randle for the remainder of the half, allowing the Cougars to enter the locker room holding a 45-34 advantage - with Thompson scoring 23 points in the half.
But as in so many other games this season, the Cougars were unable to replicate their first half effort. Thompson went cold and California opened the second half with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to four. Wazzu finally responded and built the lead back out to seven at 57-50, but yet another Bear run, 10-0, gave California a 60-57 lead halfway through the second half. The two teams again battled closely for the next six minutes and senior Nikola Koprivica put back a miss from true freshman point guard Reggie Moore to cut Cal's lead to 71-70. However, the turning point came only seconds later. With the Bears up 73-70, Thompson went up for a shot and television replays show he was fouled by a Bear player. The nearest official did not call the foul and the Cougars never scored again in the game, with California ending with a 15-0 run while the Cougars went scoreless over the final four minutes of play.
Thompson led the Cougars with 28 points while sophomore DeAngelo Casto added 13 along with five blocks.
- Casto tied his career high in a single game in blocks.
- Wazzu had 12 blocks in the game - tying the school record.
Wazzu will continue Pac-10 conference play on Thursday, February 18 when they will face UCLA at 5:30 PM at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman
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