Mouhamed Gueye, TJ Bamba lift Washington State to fifth consecutive victory, a 63-57 road win over Cal

Mouhamed Gueye added another impressive effort to his string of standout performances. TJ Bamba provided another second-half lift.

Washington State leaned on its two best players to break free from a tight road game against a struggling opponent. Gueye and Bamba combined for 39 points, and the Cougars extended their winning streak to five games, posting a 63-57 victory over California on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.

Gueye totaled 20 points and 10 rebounds for his Pac-12-leading 14th double-double of the season. The 6-foot-11 sophomore shot 9 for 9 from the free-throw line, contributed three assists and didn’t commit a turnover. Gueye is averaging 18.2 points and 10.4 rebounds during WSU’s late-season winning streak.

“He’s doing what good players do down the stretch (of a season) – he’s getting better, more confident,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said of Gueye. “Today might have been one of his best efforts.”

The Cougars (15-15, 10-9 Pac-12) often fed the ball to Gueye in isolation during the second half to hold off the Golden Bears (3-26, 2-16), who stayed within a possession or two for the majority of the night.

“Get the ball to ‘Mo,’ ” Smith said of the late-game strategy. “He had a couple of nice passes, good (post) moves and was awesome at the foul line. Good things happen when we get it to him.”

Bamba, a junior guard , scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half. He scored nine points in the final 7:14 as WSU gradually created breathing room. Bamba scored 17 points in the second half Thursday to power the Cougars to a win over Stanford.

“He’s been a workhorse and a really good competitor, and I’m really proud of him,” Smith said. “It feels good when you have someone like that, who you can go to late in a game.”

Bamba and Gueye combined to shoot 11 of 24 from the field while the rest of the Cougars went 7 of 30. WSU shot 33.3% as a team and hit 6 of 25 from 3-point range. Smith attributed the shooting inefficiencies to fatigue – the Cougars have played three games since last Sunday, all of them single-digit wins.

“It was our third game in seven days, and (the Bears) are feisty,” he said. “I know they’ve had a tough season, but they’re competing hard.

“We were just gritty enough to get that thing done.”

The Cougars got a boost at the foul line (21 of 26), played composed defense, rebounded well, limited their turnovers and never trailed.

WSU matched a season low with six turnovers and outrebounded the Bears 39-32 (8-3 on offense boards). Cougars forward DJ Rodman finished with 10 rebounds. Cal’s output was the third-lowest point total allowed by WSU in Pac-12 play this season.

The Bears capitalized on a 6-minute WSU field-goal drought midway through the second half to tie the score at 39. The Cougars stayed sharp from the foul line until Bamba’s 3-pointer at the 7:14 mark, which kick-started a 13-4 surge that put WSU up by 11 points with 1:02 remaining.

The Cougars forced four turnovers during an 11-2 run that spanned 6 minutes to open a nine-point lead midway through the first half before a 0-for-7 shooting stretch allowed Cal to trim into the deficit. WSU made two of its last 14 field-goal attempts of the first half, but the Bears also struggled on offense and the visitors took a 29-26 halftime lead .

Guard Joel Brown had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to pace Cal, which shot 37.3% from the floor and 5 of 18 on 3-pointers en route to its 13th consecutive loss.

WSU completed a season sweep of Cal and Stanford for the second consecutive year.

The Cougars conclude their regular season at 8 p.m. Thursday in Seattle against Washington.

“That would be an unbelievable finish if we could find a way to get that one done,” Smith said.

Two WSU program greats attended the game. Klay Thompson (2008-11), fresh off a 42-point outburst for Golden State in the Warriors’ win over Houston on Friday, sat courtside. He sported a Cougars hat and could be seen jumping out of his chair to encourage WSU players. Isaac Fontaine (1993-97), WSU’s all-time leading scorer, enjoyed the Cougars’ win from the stands.

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