BERKELEY, Calif. — California coach Mike Montgomery had an uneasy feeling about his team long before the opening tip-off against Washington State.
The Golden Bears were late to the morning shoot-around, late returning to the locker room and, for much of the first half, late getting back on defense.
A change in attitude, coupled with a strong second half from Richard Solomon, got Cal back on schedule.
Solomon had eight of his 12 points after halftime to go with nine rebounds, and the Bears remained unbeaten in Pac-12 play with a 76-51 win over the Cougars on Saturday.
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“We didn’t come out with the same energy we’ve been coming out with,” said point guard Justin Cobbs, who had 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. “We weren’t moving. We were playing on the perimeter, not driving at all.”
The Bears (14-4, 5-0) had to weather an early 18-4 run by the Cougars, and then they pulled away in the second half to secure their sixth straight win. It extended Cal’s best start in conference since winning opening 7-0 in 2003.
D.J. Shelton had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Washington State (8-10, 1-5), which played its fourth straight game without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy.
“We came out hard in the first half but could not really sustain it,” Cougars coach Ken Bone said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth. That is hard to take and hard to see, but (Cal) is a team that is undefeated in league and very good on their home court.”
After falling behind 6-0, WSU led 18-10 and trailed just 34-33 at halftime.
Tyrone Wallace had 13 points, four assists and four steals for Cal, which outscored the Cougars 40-10 in the paint.