BERKELEY -- Maybe this is the new formula for Cal basketball.
The Bears were spotty offensively but attacked on defense and made their free throws in a 67-54 victory over Washington State in front of 7,347 fans at Haas Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
"It was just something we had to do," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of the defensive effort that produced a school-record 11 blocked shots and limited the Cougars to 33 percent shooting. "Get used to it. This ain't changing.
"We're not going to go out there and all of a sudden turn into the '76 Knicks. We're going to have to play more defense, get physical. People have pretty much handled us. We're just going to have to push back more."
It was an important if somewhat awkward victory for the Bears (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12), who had dropped six of their previous nine games, four of them at home.
The Bears won despite scoring just two field goals over the final 11:43 of the game. Cal made 17 of 20 free throws over that closing stretch, and freshman Tyrone Wallace delivered the game's biggest defensive play to snuff out the last gasp by the Cougars (9-7, 0-3).
With the Bears nursing a 58-51 lead, the 6-foot-4 Wallace raced downcourt and blocked a breakaway layup try by 6-10 Brock Motum, the Pac-12's No. 2 scorer.
Junior Allen Crabbe said the Bears held a players-only meeting Thursday, the day after a 62-47 loss to Washington and talked about what needed to change.
"We've got to play harder. We can't go out there and play without energy," Crabbe said. "We have to be more serious if we want to be make a run in the Pac-12."
Relying strictly on offense won't work, Montgomery said. "Defense has got to be a big part of us trying to win," he said.
WSU coach Ken Bone said the Bears' aggressiveness took a toll on his team. "When you don't get fouled and you don't hardly get a shot off sometimes, it gets hard," he said.
Wallace, held out of the starting lineup because he was late for a Saturday morning shootaround, finished with a career-high 16 points and six rebounds. He had Cal's only two field goals in the final 11-plus minutes.
Crabbe had 14 points, 10 of them in the second half, and Justin Cobbs contributed 10 points -- all in the second half -- along with five rebounds and five assists.
Cobbs -- 12 for 40 from the field the previous three games -- did not even attempt a shot in the first half. Cal led 29-27 at the break despite one stretch of 5:52 without a field goal, then another span with six turnovers in eight possessions.
Cobbs drew praise from Montgomery, who said the junior guard needs to continue trying to find a balance between shooting and passing. "Justin actually played a really good game. He controlled the team, played defense," Montgomery said.
The Bears' defensive efforts focused primarily on Motum, who was coming off a 29-point performance at Stanford. Richard Solomon and David Kravish took turns defending him in the first half before senior reserve Bak Bak got into the act over the final 20 minutes.
Motum scored 16 points, but was just 5 for 14 from the field and had five shots swatted. Solomon -- who wound up with seven points, eight rebounds and six blocks -- rejected four of Motum's attempts.
The offense remains a work in progress. Cal had more turnovers (19) than field goals (18), but did convert 28 of 36 from the foul line three days after struggling there.
"Sometimes when we get confused we don't make the best of decisions. We stand and watch," Montgomery said. "We have to find out what we can do best offensively."
"We were kind of sloppy at some points," Crabbe said. "I'm just glad we got a win. We really needed it."
Follow Jeff Faraudo at Twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.