Bernstein’s layup lifts Washington State past Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Washington State coach Ernie Kent had empathy for Cal on Thursday night, but he was thrilled it was the Cougars who won 78-76 in a duel to escape last place in the Pac-12 Conference.
Drick Bernstein scored a layup with 1.7 seconds left and the Cougars (11-16, 3-12) won for the first time in 10 road games to climb into 11th place.
“For this team, with everything they’ve been through, similar to what Cal’s gone through, to come down here and play a much-improved Cal team, it was just a grind-it-out win for us,” Kent said. “I’m proud of my guys.”
There were five lead changes and three ties in the final five minutes, and Cal (8-20, 2-13) knotted the score at 76-all when Marcus Lee scored off a feed from Justice Sueing with 7.1 seconds left.
But the Cougars hurried the ball up court and Malachi Flynn delivered the ball to Bernstein for the game-winner.
“They got it inbounds right away and were able to — in the scramble of our guys trying to match up — find Bernstein,” Cal coach Wyking Jones said.
“It was pretty much a lack of focus toward the end when we needed it the most,” said Sueing, who scored 25 points. “We weren’t communicating well enough and he got open for a layup. That game should have been ours.”
Robert Franks led the Cougars with 15 points and Bernstein, Flynn and Viont’e Daniels each scored 14.
NO 3S BUT PRODUCTION
Robert Franks, who made a school-record 10 3-pointers in the Cougars’ 78-53 win over Cal last month, found other ways to help his team this time. He was 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, but led the Cougars in scoring with six rebounds and three assists.
ONE YEAR LATER
Before feeding Bernstein for the game-winning shot, Flynn hit a 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds left to give WSU a short-lived 76-74 lead. Kent recalled an almost identical situation in a loss last season at Cal when Flynn missed a jumper with 22 seconds left and the Cougars down two points.
“This time he made that shot,” Kent said. “It shows the growth from freshman to sophomore.”
Cal redshirt freshman Roman Davis, who had totaled just 26 points all season, scored a career-high 15 and grabbed six rebounds off the bench. “This is exactly what he’s shown in practice,” Jones said.
Asked what he was thinking during the game, Davis said, “Honestly, I wasn’t doing too much thinking. I was just hoopin’, trying to make plays.”
Washington State: The Cougars, who began the season 6-0 with wins over San Diego State and Saint Mary’s, won for just the fifth time in 21 games since. WSU also climbed out of a tie for last place in the Pac-12, where they have resided eight times in the past 21 seaspns.
Cal: The Bears moved within a single defeat of matching their program-worst 21 losses in 1978-79. This is just the third Cal team to lose 20 games in a season.
Washington State plays at Stanford on Saturday
Cal plays Washington at home on Saturday