The Washington State men’s basketball team (9-11, 3-5) lost its fourth straight game on Thursday, this time it was a 76-67 home loss to the California Golden Bears (12-9, 2-6). Despite awful defense throughout the game, WSU only trailed by one with around 90 seconds left in the game. But a phantom foul call gave Cal’s Jordan Matthews a chance to help Cal build on its late lead.
Brett Boese was called for a contact foul going for a rebound after a Cal player’s shot didn’t fall, sending Matthews to the line for two shots…which he hit, to give the Golden Bears a 70-67 lead with 1:34 left in the ball game. There was no contact between the Boese and Matthews, as Matthews was a few inches behind Boese. What happened was Josh Hawkinson blocked Matthews shot, as Boese was trying to block it. Both of the WSU players collided, while there hands were hitting the hoop, and the ball careened out-of-bounds.
The Cougars’ awful defensive play — which was a recurring theme throughout the game — left Matthews wide open for a three-point jumper in front of the Cal bench with 55 seconds left in the game. Cal would hit three, of four, free throws down the stretch to give the Golden Bears the final margin.
Matthews had been been on the bench for most of the game after drawing a technical and personal foul within two seconds of each other, less than 1:20 into the first half. In fact, Matthews first points of the game came when he hit a free throw with 3:13 left in the second half.
The Golden Bears started the second half with a 17-5 run that gave them a 56-44 lead. Christian Behrens started the run with a lay-up shortly after play resumed. Behren’s lay-up was indicitive of the Cougars’ defensive struggles all night as he got half a step ahead of the defender and hit the easy shot.
After Cal pushed its lead to 12, Washington State head coach Ernie Kent to call a timeout and get his team settled down. And the Cougars responded with a 18-5 run that pulled them within one, 64-63, with 1:34 left in regulation.
Then the phantom foul call happened and the game was essentially over.
Washington State lost this game because of its inability to get set on the defensive end of the court, and some bad shot selection down the stretch. But the Cougars were only down by one point, and were robbed of a chance to get the win because of a terrible call that sent one of Cal’s better free throw shooters to the charity stripe.
The Cougars next game is against Stanford at 5:30 pm in Beasley Coliseum, it will be broadcast on Pac-12 networks.