February 18, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - California's bid for an NCAA Tournament berth took a severe blow Thursday, as the Golden Bears lost at Washington State, 79-73, before 3,975 fans. Cal guard Thomas Kilgore scored a Cal career-best 34 points, but no other Bear reached double figures.
Cal, which dropped to 14-9 overall and 5-8 in the Pac-10, fell behind by as many as 22 points in the first half and watched a second-half run come up just short. With the win, WSU improved to 10-15 and 4-10.
Early in the game, Cal seemed ready to get off to a strong start. Center Francisco Elson blocked WSU's first two field goal attempts and Thomas Kilgore had a fast break layup for a 2-0 lead. But that proved to be the Bears last highlight of the first half. The Cougars quickly went up 12-4, capped by two jumpers by Jan-Michael Thomas.
WSU kept rolling and the Cougar lead kept growing. Ten minutes into the game, WSU led, 26-10, and with 2:05 left, the lead reached, 48-26. Cal did close to within 48-31 at the break.
However, the first half stats did not favor Cal in any category. WSU shot 54.5 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from three-point range (7-15) and outrebounded the Bears, 20-15.
The story, though, changed after intermission. Cal held WSU to just two baskets through the first 11 minutes and chopped the lead down to 54-47 with 9:25 to go. But the Cougars made 19-of-22 from the free throw line in the second half to keep the Bears at bay.
"It's frustrating," Cal head coach Ben Braun said. "I thought we came out with a little bit of energy. All of a sudden, Washington State got a couple of baskets and we lost focus. Before we knew it, it was too late. It's not so much the loss that concerns me, but our lack of consistency of effort."
Cal will have to regroup quickly, as the Bears travel to Washington Saturday afternoon.
Kilgore's 34-point total was the most for a Cal player since Ed Gray had a school-record 48 points also in a loss at Washington State in February 1997.