Cal, Washington State seek a momentum shift in Pac-12 matchup

NCAA Basketball

Two struggling Pac-12 Conference teams look to get some sort of positive momentum going for next month’s conference tournament on Thursday night.

California (8-15, 3-13) makes the trip to Washington State (12-10, 5-10) in a game that won’t come close to deciding the conference’s regular-season title. But there is something tangible at stake for both squads.

In the Cougars’ case, it’s a chance to wash the bitter taste out of their collective mouths from Monday night’s 65-63 home defeat against in-state rival Washington.

Noah Williams’ driving layup with 10 seconds left gave the Cougars a tie, but Williams couldn’t keep Marcus Tsohonis from scoring the last of his career-high 29 points on a floater with 2.4 seconds remaining that gave the Huskies just their fourth win of the season.

“That’s a stinger,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said of the loss. “We spotted them 10 (points) in the first half and turned it over 19 times. So we feel like we were beating ourselves a bit.

“Proud of our guys for the way they battled back, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We started the game off really poorly, made some bad plays. We just have to clean things up.”

The Cougars don’t know if leading scorer Isaac Bonton (18.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists) will be able to play. He missed the loss to Washington with injuries to both ankles.

As for Cal, it at least heads to Pullman, Wash., with a positive result in its hip pocket. Matt Bradley’s career-high 29 points paced an upset of Colorado, 71-62, on Saturday night, handing the Buffs a potentially damaging loss in terms of their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.

Bradley (19.1 points), who is drawing attention from NBA scouts as a possible “3-and-D” wing player, has scored at least 20 points in five of his last six games. He connected on 9-of-17 shots against Colorado and canned 9-of-10 foul shots while adding eight rebounds.

Scoring has been a problem for the Golden Bears at times this season, as they are averaging only 67 points per game and making 43.8 percent of their field goals. Their only other double-figure scorer is Andre Kelly, who chips in 10.1 points.

Washington State won the teams’ first meeting last month at Cal, getting 22 points from Bonton in a 71-60 decision.

–Field Level Media

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