Bears have no an­swer for Franks’ hot hand

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By Rusty Sim­mons

PULL­MAN, Wash. — Well, that took all of two weeks.

Cal went from tied atop the Pac-12 stand­ings to be­ing knot­ted with the con­fer­ence’s cel­lar-dwellers af­ter a 78-53 loss to Washington State on Satur­day af­ter­noon at Beasley Coli­seum.

The Bears (7-11, 1-4 Pac-12) have lost four in a row by an av­er­age of 16.5 points since com­ing back from down 17 points to beat Stan­ford in the con­fer­ence opener.

Cal lost in The Palouse for the first time since 2012 and got swept on the Washington swing for the first time since 2011, run­ning into many of the same prob­lems that have been present since the Dec. 30 shocker at Stan­ford.

“For me as the coach, I’m just won­der­ing which team is go­ing to show up,” Cal head coach Wyk­ing Jones said. “There’s a team that bat­tles and com­petes and ex­e­cutes and fol­lows the game plan, and there’s the team that looks like this.”

Cal had won four of five, in­clud­ing the Pac-12 opener, but that ver­sion of the team has been nowhere to find dur­ing the past two weeks. Slog­ging

through a four-game los­ing streak, the Bears have twice set sea­son lows in scor­ing and once al­lowed a sea­son­high to­tal on the other end.

Against Washington State, they took the frailty to a new level, show­ing lit­tle re­sis­tance as Robert Franks hit a school-record 10 three-point­ers and scored 34 points.

“When a kid’s shoot­ing the ball like that, he de­serves to get the record,” Jones said. “The prob­lem I have is with my guys. Some­body has to step up and say: ‘He’s not go­ing to get five, six, seven, eight.’

“My guys have to step up, give more ef­fort, be tougher and do a bet­ter job of de­fend­ing that.”

The Cougars (9-8, 1-4), the only team pro­jected to fin­ish be­hind Cal in the Pac-12, had lost eight of 10 games since win­ning the Wooden Legacy tour­na­ment over Thanks­giv­ing week­end. But they treated Cal as if it were IUPUI or Bethune-Cook­man, the two teams they beat dur­ing the stretch.

Washington State lim­ited Cal to 31.8 per­cent shoot­ing from the floor and 16.7 per­cent shoot­ing from three­p­oint range. The Bears matched their sea­son low with six as­sists and com­mit­ted 14 turnovers.

On the other end, the Cougars shot 56.9 per­cent from the floor and 53.6 per­cent from three-point range, outscor­ing Cal 45-12 from be­hind the arc. Washington State had 22 as­sists, in­clud­ing 15 com­bined from Drick Bern­s­tine and Kwin­ton Hin­son.

Cal’s en­tire ros­ter has only 15 as­sists in the past two games. The Bears didn’t record their first as­sist un­til 11 min­utes into the game Satur­day, when Jus­tice Sue­ing found Nick Hamil­ton in tran­si­tion for a three-point play that tied it 17-17.

Af­ter miss­ing 11 of its first 12 three-point tries, Cal got one to fall three min­utes into the sec­ond half. That only seemed to spark Washington State, which re­spond­ing by rat­tling off an 11-2 run that in­cluded Franks’ fourth, fifth and sixth three-point­ers to ex­tend its lead to 48-36 with 14 min­utes to play.

“That’s just men­tal tough­ness, be­ing hun­gry and want­ing to fight,” Jones said. “I need guys out there who are go­ing to fight and who have a lit­tle edge to them. Mov­ing for­ward, that’s the di­rec­tion I’m go­ing in.”

The Cougars went in that di­rec­tion, stretch­ing their lead to 65-46 at the 6:06 mark on — what else? — a three-pointer by Franks. The 6-foot-7 for­ward made his school-record 10th three­p­ointer with 43 sec­onds left, and head coach Ernie Kent called a timeout so the for­ward could soak in mo­ment.

“My emo­tions were high,” Franks said. “I give a lot of praise to my team­mates. They saw I was hot, and they kept feed­ing me. They wanted me to shoot it, and they wanted me to set the record.”

Young Kwak / As­so­ci­ated Press

Cal’s Jus­tice Sue­ing tries to get off a shot against Washington State as Jeff Pol­lard and Robert Franks de­fend. Sue­ing scored a team-high 14 points.

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