Tremendous FT shooting sends WSU men to Pac-12 quarterfinal

Washington State’s (19-13, 12-9) men’s basketball sank 18 of 21 free throw attempts in the second half to beat Cal (12-20, 5-16) 66-59 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday night. It was a game that got ugly as several weak whistles dominated the final half and also put the Golden Bears into the bonus with 14:45 left in the game.

Senior Michael Flowers put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws after he was fouled by Marsalis Roberson to make it 64-56 with 20 seconds left. Cal’s next offensive possession ended up with a missed three pointer that was rebounded by DJ Rodman. Rodman was fouled, went to the line and sank both of his shots to get the Cougs to 66 points. Cal scored the final bucket of the game with a Jordan Shepherd three ball to get it to the final margin.

The second half was intensely painful as the officials called a “tighter” game which slowed it down and led to a combined 41 shots from the charity stripe. While the Cougs hit on nearly 85% of theirs, Cal only hit 14 of 20 (70%) and that was the difference in the ball game.

Efe Abogidi and Jordan Shepherd led all scorers with 19 points. Abogidi did most of his damage in the first half where he scored 11 for Washington State. The Cougs would have four scorers in double digits (Efe Abogidi, Tyrell Roberts, Flowers, and TJ Bamba) while Cal would only have two.


Lars Tiemann got the free throws started early in the second half as he hit the first two shots Cal earned from the officials. Roberts responded with a three pointer, which would be the last bucket WSU would score for nearly five minutes. It was in the middle of that drought that the Bears went on 9-0 run to cut the lead down to four at 31-35.

Roberts would come up huge for the Cougs as he’d get their next bucket after he dissected the lane for the layup. The redshirt junior wasn’t done as he’d also drill a three in response to two consecutive Cal buckets; that would make the score 40-33 with 13:42 left in the game. Shepherd would drive the lane to make Washington State’s lead five, but Cal would never get it that close again.

Over the next two minutes both TJ Bamba and Dishon Jackson would be sent to the free throw line for four shots. They would sink every single one of them.

Cal’s Makale Foreman would hit a pullup jumper with 8:45 left to make it 37-46. But Roberts, again, would respond for Washington State; this time he did it by driving the lane and hitting the free throw to complete the three point play. Kuany Kuany and Jalen Celestine would score four points off of offensive boards. But it wasn’t enough for Cal to seriously threaten the Cougars lead throughout the rest of the game.


A 12-4 run in the middle of the first half gave the Cougars a 21-12 lead with 6:52 left in the game. Flowers capped off the run with a three pointer and put an end to the 61 second scoring drought for WSU. It was back-to-back two point buckets by Celestine and Alajiki that put an end to the Cougar run and cut their lead down to five. But Bamba responded with a three of his own to push it back out to 24-16.

Cal was able to close the gap within six after a a pair of made free throws from Shepherd; but then Washington State outscored the Golden Bears 8-2 in the final three minutes to take a 32-20 advantage into the locker room.

The game started off well for WSU as it opened it up with the first six points. Flowers got the show started with a three pointer after an offensive rebound. Roberts than drove the lane — ouch, Cal — and then he sank the resulting and-one. Thiemann scored the first bucket for the Bears…but that was quickly followed up by an Abogidi three — again, ouch Cal.

It took a 6-0 run for Cal to get back into the game. A Kuany three brought the game within one with 15:46 left. But it didn’t take long for the Cougs to rip off a run of thier own to take control of the game.

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Photo Credit: Washington State Athletic communications