By Morris Phillips
The Cal Bears had to take their most arduous trip, and find the most vulnerable opponent–in a rare Wednesday night contest–to end their road woes.
No need to ask: they’ll take it.
Paris Austin, Andre Kelly and Matt Bradley combined for 46 points in Cal’s 66-57 win over Washington State, their first win away from Haas Pavilion this season. The Bears had dropped all six of their previous road contests as well as three, neutral site games in November and December.
“For this team, no one gave them a chance to have much success so any time that they have some I want them to enjoy it and understand how they found that success so they can build on it,” coach Mark Fox said.
“Hopefully tonight they can enjoy this victory and look back and see why we won the game so it can happen again.”
Since losing their final, three non-conference games, then their Pac-12 opener to Stanford, Cal has won five of 12, equaling their number of conference wins the last two seasons combined. Beating WSU almost insures they won’t finish last in the Pac-12 this season with five games remaining.
The Bears built a 17-point, first half lead only to see the Cougars get within six points with less than two minutes remaining. Leading 60-54, Cal converted six free throw attempts to close it out.
Isaac Bonton, WSU’s starting point guard and second-leading scorer missed the game with a leg injury. Benton’s absence left WSU out of sync offensively, especially leading scorer C.J. Elleby, who missed 14 of his 18 shot attempts.