California defeats Washington State 88-81 in OT
BERKELEY, Calif. – The half-dozen NBA scouts along press row came to see the Pac-10’s top scorer. Instead, they got a treat from two players.
Freshman Allen Crabbe had a career-high 30 points in a spectacular shooting duel with Klay Thompson, and California held on to beat Washington State 88-81 in overtime Thursday night.
“I like Klay Thompson a lot,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Right now, I like Allen Crabbe a lot, too.”
Crabbe was 10 for 15 shooting, including 4 for 6 on 3-pointers, and made a pair of shots in the extra period to help the Golden Bears (9-7, 2-2 Pac-10) run away with the victory in overtime after blowing a 14-point lead.
Thompson, the conference’s scoring leader, had another brilliant offensive night with 36 points and DeAngelo Casto added 11 for the Cougars (12-5, 2-3), who dropped their third straight conference road game. They also lost at UCLA and USC.
Thompson’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds of regulation forced overtime. But Cal sprinted out to a six-point lead in the extra period that was too much for Washington State to overcome.
“Klay got hot. (Crabbe) got hot. Nobody could stop either,” Casto said. “It was just one of those nights where you can’t do anything about it.”
Harper Kamp scored 18 points and Markhuri Sanders-Frison finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for a young Cal team that’s trying to rebound from a slow start this season. The depleted, defending Pac-10 champions – who lost five seniors from last season’s squad – might have found another blooming star.
Crabbe’s inside-outside game topped his previous scoring best this season of 17 points, which he had done three times. And some of his best games have come since freshman guard Gary Franklin – who started 11 of Cal’s first 13 games – transferred to Baylor.
“I guess I was just hitting the shots,” Crabbe said. “It feels good knowing the hard work, all the extra shots at night, paid off.”
Crabbe came through at the biggest moments, too.
The Bears’ trapping defense swarmed the Cougars and allowed for some easy fast-break points early. Cal scored 10 straight in a run propelled by its defense to take a 21-11 lead midway through the first half.
Washington State trimmed the deficit to eight, then Crabbe found his stroke. He made four 3-pointers in a span of about 2 1/2 minutes, pushing the Bears back in front by 14 points.
Thompson, a 6-foot-6 junior guard who entered the game averaging 22.3 points per game, twice helped cut Cal’s lead but didn’t have enough help on the perimeter. Crabbe made two quick shots in overtime, and the Bears held off another rally with free throws.
Thompson’s output was the most points allowed by a Cal team since Eddie House of Arizona State matched Lew Alcindor’s Pac-10 record with 61 points in a double-overtime victory over the Bears on Jan. 8, 2000. Withstanding that kind of offense was a big confidence boost for a Cal team that’s in rebuilding mode.
Most of those who played key roles in the school’s first conference title in 50 years last season are gone. That left an inexperienced roster filled with freshmen for a team that earned back-to-back NCAA tournament berths in Montgomery’s first two seasons to fill the void.
But maybe they might make some noise in the Pac-10 after all.
“We knew that this game came down to toughness,” said Cal guard Brandon Smith, who had nine points and nine assists. “And we knew that, hey, we have it. Tonight, we were the tougher team.”