BERKELEY -- So apparently, for Allen Crabbe, scoring 17 points in two straight games just wasn't good enough. On Thursday night, the 6-foot-6 true freshman surpassed that count in the first half en route to a career-high 30-point night in Cal's nail-biting 88-81 overtime win over visiting Washington State.
"We knew that this game would come down to toughness, and hey, we have it," said the Bears' staring point guard, Brandon Smith. "Tonight, we were the tougher team."
Crabbe hit 10-of-15 from the floor, 4-of-6 from three-point range and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe to become the first Cal freshman to score 30 or more since Shareef Abdur-Rahim did so four times during the 1995-96 campaign.
"Guards, they found me. Big men, they found me, and I was just knocking down my shots," Crabbe said. "It feels good. It just shows that hard work pays off, putting up extra shots in the nighttime. But, this is just a good team win that I'm really excited about."
Crabbe was money when it counted in the nip-and-tuck second half. With 15:11 left and the Cougars fresh off of an 13-4 run, Crabbe took a pass from senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison on the left wing and slashed to the hole, lofting himself in the air for some hang time that would put a Bryan Anger punt to shame to drain the lay-in and drawing the foul from Washington State's Faisal Aden.
Having led by as many as 14 points in the first half, and as many as 10 in the second, the Bears (9-7, 2-2 in the Pac-10) once again allowed the Cougars (12-5, 2-3) back into the game with some late communication breakdowns, opening the door for Washington State junior Klay Thompson.
"Klay was hitting big-time shots, and that's what helped them get back in the game," said Crabbe. "We had some miscommunications on defense that let him slip the big guy and get some easy points."
With 20.1 seconds left in regulation, the Bears were up by a precarious three points, leaving the door open for Thompson, who had hit 4-of-9 from three-point range up to that point.
Guarded in the full-court press by Cal junior Jorge Gutierrez, Thompson methodically took the ball up against the tenacious defender, created space with a jab step and fired up a three from the top of the arc, tying the game.
"That last three, at the end of regulation, he made it from the volleyball line," said Smith. "That's what we call a heat check. He was so on-fire that he could shoot it from just about anywhere and it's in."
Thompson shot 12-of-22 from the field for the Cougars to score his game-high 36 points, but those three were his last, as the Bears shut down Washington State's most potent attacker for the entire five-minute overtime period with a clutch defensive adjustment.
"We tried a lot of things that obviously didn't work. I don't know whether, as a result, they got stagnant a little bit, just looking for Klay. I don't think we did. Even though Crabbe had 30, we continued to move the ball and find people," said Cal head coach Mike Montgomery. "We played a box-and-one, is what we did (in overtime). We tried it earlier once and Reggie Moore buried a three, so like a lot of times when you go to a zone, you say 'Well, we don't want to do that.' But, they were so dependent on Klay at that point and we were having such a hard time guarding him, so we said, 'Well, let's try the box-and-one,' and it worked."
Thanks to that box-and-one defensive scheme, Thompson was not able to take a single shot during the extra session, while Cal scored on seven of its eight possessions.
"Coaches did a good job of going to the thing that we found that they thought was working against them and we were able to score it pretty consistently," Montgomery said. "Getting up in overtime like that was huge."
After allowing the Cougars to tie the game up at 76 with 4:18 to go in the extra period, the Bears went on a 6-0 run, capped by a hard-fought layup by Sanders-Frison with 2:28 left which sent the crowd of 6,903 into a frenzy.
But Washington State wasn't about to give up so easily. On the next possession, the Cougars again tried to go to Thompson, but after a touch foul by Smith on the in-bounds, Thompson was unable to find any holes and dished the ball out to Patrick Simon for a three to cut the lead in half.
Cal responded by going to junior Harper Kamp down low on the next possession, but Kamp was unable to convert off of a dribble down low. Cougars enforcer DeAngelo Casto -- who was on top of Sanders-Frison all night and eventually fouled out -- pulled down the board and found Thompson on the other end. Again unable to negotiate the box-and-one, Thompson kicked the ball out to Moore, who drove on Sanders-Frison and drew the big man's fifth foul, sending his 14 points and 10 boards to the bench with 1:20 left.
Moore hit both free throws to close the Bears lead to just one point. On the ensuing possession, Gutierrez drove the lane and drew the foul from Brock Motum, sinking both of his free throws to push the lead back to three. And Gutierrez was far from done. On the next play, the sophomore firecracker out of Chihuaua, Mex., swiped the ball from Thompson in the defensive post and found Smith at the top of the key on the other end. Smith drew the foul from Moore and sunk both of his tries from the line to put the Cal up, 86-81 and all but icing the game with 40 seconds left.
Smith notched a game-high nine assists while playing 44 minutes in his fifth start of the season, tallying five boards, a steal and nine points with only one turnover.
"He steadies us up a little bit. He doesn't try to do too much, generally speaking," Montgomery said. "He doesn't try to drive it and score it all the time. He knows what his job is, so it kind of steadies us on offense and we generally end up getting the ball where we want to get it, and that's important."
The Bears dished out 22 assists on the night to just 15 turnovers, with Sanders-Frison contributing three helpers to the cause, primarily finding Crabbe open on the perimeter while fighting double-teams down low.
"Markhuri did a pretty nice job of passing out of the double-team," Montgomery said. "We thought they would double Markhuri, and we didn't space the floor like we necessarily wanted to, but we did find the shooter on two or three occasions and were able to knock it down, which discouraged the double."
When Sanders-Frison and others found Crabbe, he practically couldn't miss. But as good a game as the true frosh out of Los Angeles Price had, it was all a part of a team effort. Five Cal players played at least 40 minutes and a sixth -- Crabbe's high school teammate Richard Solomon played 19 hard minutes.
"We did have guys play big minutes, but if we're going to score the ball, I'm going to play guys to win games, and if, at some point, we're just tired, well then I'd rather win a game than worry about the next one," Montgomery said, referring to the Bears' two-day layoff before facing No. 17 Washington on Sunday night at 7 pm. "Fortunately, we have two days and I think they'll bounce back."
Solomon contributed two assists, eight points and seven boards and showed that he's no longer afraid of getting a little physical.
After being tripped up with no call following a defensive board with 5:11 left in regulation, Solomon and Gutierrez teamed up for a two-on-one break on the next Cal possession, with the 6-foot-9 true freshman hammering home a thunderous dunk to put the Bears ahead by two. On the very next play, Solomon stood his ground and drew the hard charge from Casto on the other end, and, as he lay on his back under the basket, pounded his chest.
"He's just a pup, in terms of knowing the game and knowing what to do. Defensively, you can capitalize on him not really understanding," Montgomery said. "Harper's really the smartest defender. He just knows where to be and all that kind of stuff, but Richard's getting better. He's making his foul shots, which is critical, right now, and he can go up and rebound the ball -- he had seven boards -- and that's pretty good. He will go up and get the ball. He's getting stronger with it."
• Crabbe's 30 points marked a season-high for any Cal player. The previous mark was set by Kamp against New Mexico on Nov. 20, when he scored 25.
Crabbe's previous best was 17 points, a total he has hit three times, against Hartford (Dec. 28, the Bears' last home game), Arizona (Jan. 6) and Arizona State (Jan. 8).
• Kamp scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting with four boards and two assists, but his workmanlike effort was marred a bit by the fact that he missed two straight free throws for the first time this season. Kamp entered the game with the conference's second-best free-throw percentage (85.7 percent), and while those two misses were abnormal, to say the least, he did hit his final two down the stretch to put Cal up by eight.
"He was 6-for-8, but it is odd," Montgomery said. "We talked about it on the bench as to who shoots the technical, and I put Allen up there. Harper's second in the conference or something, and then Allen missed one, so Harper shoots the next time and he missed two, so I said, 'Well, we're back to Allen.' But, Harper made up for it late."
The play to which Montgomery referred occurred with 3:37 left in the second half, when Moore held on a bit too long on a dunk, causing him to be charged with a class-B technical foul (no personal was charged).
• After falling behind 7-2 after the first 2:14, the Bears went on a 19-4 run to stake themselves to a 21-11 lead with 10:54 left in the half. Kamp led Cal with eight points during that run.
• The Bears' 42 points before the break were the most that Cal has scored in a first half this season.
• Thompson's 36 points were the most by a Bears opponent in a game this year, surpassing the Wildcats Derrick Williams' 31 last week. The last time an opposing player scored more against Cal was when the Sun Devils' Eddie House poured in 61 in a 111-108 win on Jan. 8, 2000.
• Sanders-Frison's 14 points and 10 boards mark his fifth double-double this season and for his career.
• Helped by Crabbe's 4-for-6 night from three-point land, the Bears as a team hit 5-of-11, making them 16-for-35 (45.7 percent) from beyond the arc over the past three games.
• Cal has now won five games in a row against the Cougars and leads the all-time series 73-45.
• This was the Bears' first overtime win since defeating USC, 81-78, on Feb. 26, 2009.