Freshman Allen Crabbe scored 30 points, and Cal played a nearly perfect overtime to claim an 88-81 victory over Washington State on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion.
The Golden Bears (9-7, 2-2 Pac-10) scored on seven of eight possessions in the overtime after the Cougars' Klay Thompson forced the five-minute extra period by launching in a 26-footer with 13.2 seconds left in regulation.
Thompson scored a season-high 36 points for the Cougars (12-5, 2-3) but was held without a shot in the overtime as the Bears went to a box-and-one defense, chasing the league's top scorer with Brandon Smith or Jorge Gutierrez.
Cal, playing its first conference home game, showed tremendous growth against a high-powered WSU squad. The Bears shot 52 percent, out-rebounded the Cougars 37-28 and moved the ball efficiently.
"We knew this game would come down to toughness," Smith said, "and we knew, 'Hey, we had it.' "
After the game's first three minutes, WSU never was ahead by more than one point. Cal led by as many as 14 in the first half.
The Bears never trailed in the overtime, shooting 8 for 8 from the foul line and getting two layups from Markhuri Sanders-Frison and a basket from Crabbe.
Crabbe, the 2010 state high school player of the year in California, had equaled his career-best with 17 points by halftime. He shot 10 for 15 for the game, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range, and played 44 of 45 minutes. He became the first Cal freshman to score 30 points in a game since Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who did it four times during the 1995-96 season.
"Allen is growing into his role," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "He understands that it's OK to miss a shot. The players on our team are comfortable with him shooting it and are getting him the ball."
"Honestly, getting this win was the best thing," said Crabbe, who's averaging 17.7 points in four Pac-10 games. "I was so excited. We all played together."
Harper Kamp added 18 points, Sanders-Frison had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Smith played perhaps his best game with nine points and a career-high nine assists. Gutierrez, run ragged by chasing Thompson most of the night, added nine points, six rebounds and four assists.
Montgomery was excited about the Bears' teamwork, which led to 22 assists.
"As things have evolved, it's clear what everybody's job is," he said.
Through 40 minutes, the Bears had little success stopping Thompson, whose point total was the most by a Cal opponent since Arizona State's Eddie House tied the Pac-10 single-game record with 61 on Jan. 8, 2000.
Cal then switched from man-to-man to the box-and-one with the smaller Smith harassing Thompson for most of the overtime.
"I might have had some fresher legs," said Smith, who played 44 minutes. "We were trying to get Washington State kind of confused. It bought us some extra time."
Thompson, who scored 23 points in the second half, gave the Cougars their first lead of the second half when he made a 3-pointer for a 71-70 advantage with 3:49 left.
Crabbe made two free throws with 3:30 left and Cal went back in front. Neither team scored again until Kamp made two free throws with 20.5 seconds left.
But Thompson coolly swished a 26-footer with 13.2 seconds left, and the game was tied.
"It was crazy ... that last 3 in regulation, he made it from like the volleyball line," Smith said.
An off-balance 15-footer by Gutierrez just before the second-half buzzer wasn't close.
Washington (12-4, 4-1 Pac-10) at Cal (9-7, 2-2), 7 p.m., CSNBA