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WSU vs. Cal basketball final score: Cougars falter late, lose 76-67

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The Cougars squandered a golden opportunity against the Cal Bears on Thursday night.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Mathews has been Cal's best player in Pac-12 play, but he spent most of the first half in Pullman on the bench after drawing a foul and a technical foul at the beginning of the game. It wasn't until the waning moments of the second half that he got his first points, but he exploded for nine straight to close out the Washington State Cougars, 76-67, on Thursday night.

Even without Mathews' contributions early, Cal built its lead to 12 in the second half. But at just under 10 minutes to play, DaVonte Lacy drew the fifth foul on big David Kravish and WSU was able to pull closer from that point, eventually gaining a 65-64 lead that wouldn't last long.

It was all Cal, and Mathews, from then on.

Tyrone Wallace, who has struggled throughout the Pac-12 schedule, came up big with Mathews on the bench in first half. The junior guard logged 21 points in the opening 20 minutes before finishing with a game-high 26. The Golden Bears also got a big effort from deep reserve point guard Brandon Chauca, who tallied 10 points and three assists.

Free throws kept WSU in the game throughout, with both Lacy and Hawkinson overcame poor shooting days via the free throw line. Lacy logged 24 points, including 9 of 10 from the line. Hawkinson added another double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

WSU missed its last eight field goal attempts, and that certainly hurts, but this game was a failure on the defensive end first and foremost. Cal's offensive efficiency against Pac-12 opponents coming into the game was 85.0. For tonight, it was 115.2.

Included in that highly effective night from Cal was a bunch of "get-right" performances. Wallace's offensive efficiency in league play was 79.5, while Chauca's has played so little against Pac-12 opponents that his numbers are barely notable. For the season, his offensive rating was 64.6. (By the way, 100 is roughly average)

The Cougars missed a big opportunity against Cal. Not only are the Golden Bears a bad team, they were missing big minutes from two starters due to foul trouble. WSU now drops to 3-5 in conference play after a 3-1 start.