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Justin Cobbs scored all 22 of his points after halftime and Cal got past Washington State 80-76 in overtime in Pullman.
The Bears improved to 16-8, 7-4 in the Pac-12. They play Saturday at Washington, with a noon tipoff.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said on the post-game radio show. “A road sweep will get us back in the conversation. We had to have this one. I wasn’t going to tell anyone.”
Mike, everyone knew. A loss to the 11th-place Cougars coupled with a loss last month at last-place USC?
“This would have been a really bad loss,” he allowed. “When you add in the SC loss and this one, it would have beem a really tough deal for us.
“We really needed this. I can’t tell you how much we needed this.”
Now the Bears find themselves in a three-way tie for third place with Colorado and Arizona State, one-half game back of UCLA at 7-3. Arizona continues to lead the Pac-12 standings at 10-1.
Washington beat Stanford 64-60 to improve to 6-6 in Pac-12 play.
The game was a struggle for the Bears. They led by as many as 10 points, but could not seem to stop DaVonte Lacy, who scored a career-high 39 points.
“We weren’t perfect, but I don’t think we are,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to defend and got to stay focused.”
The Bears switched their defense late on Lacy to double-team him coming off the screen-and-roll, and the Cougars couldn’t make them pay.
“It looked to me like Lacy was going to get 50 if we didn’t do something,” Montgomery said.
Cobbs scored 17 of his points in the final 5:32 of regulation and overtime, including a layup and FT with 26 seconds left in the second half to give Cal a 69-67 lead.
He missed an 18-footer just before the second-half buzzer, sending the game into OT. Then the senior guard scored seven points in the extra period to go with his seven assists and just one turnover for the game.
Richard Solomon had 15 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out and David Kravish scored 14 points. Jordan Mathews came off the bench to score 12 points.
Ricky Kreklow got the start, contributing eight points, three rebounds and a key defensive sequence late, forcing Lacy into a missed 3-pointer with just over 10 seconds left in overtime.
Lacy, who did not play when the teams met in Berkeley, shot 8 for 15 from the 3-point arc and made all 11 of his free throws.
The Cougars (9-15, 2-10) also got a huge game from D.J. Shelton, who had 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.