The Washington State Cougars cruised past the California Golden Bears in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament, 69-52.
WSU (17-15) jumped on Cal (3-29) early and didn’t let off the gas. The Cougars played with a well balanced scoring attack, with five players finishing in double digit points and nearly held Cal to the magical under 49 points number. T.J. Bamba scored nine in the final three minutes to push the game well out of reach.
Mouhamed Gueye opened things up with a pair of buckets to give WSU the early lead, which they never surrendered. Bamba made it a run with a trey, Rodman rattled in an and-one and big Jack Wilson got in on the action with a basket. While Cal tried to hang around early, WSU seized full control with a 9-0 run that held Cal scoreless for over six and a half minutes. WSU continued to pile on, building a lead up to 16 and ending the first half 14.
The Cougars continued their onslaught into the second half. Andrej Jakimovski scored seven of the Cougars first 10 and a run sparked by Gueye, Jabe Mullins and Bamba helped push the lead to a game-high 21.
Cal eventually began to close the gap in the second half. The Golden Bears took advantage of WSU’s bench lineup and went on a 10-0 run to bring the game within 11. The run forced Kyle Smith into putting his starters back into the game to close it out. Jakimovski swiftly hit and three and Gueye tacked on an and-one on the next possession to push the game back out of reach within a minute.
Bamba went on a tear to end the game, outscoring Cal 9-3 by himself over the course of two minutes.
The Cougars will be back tomorrow, same time (2:30 P.M.), same place (T-Mobile Arena and on the Pac-12 Network) to face the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Quarterfinals.