BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said a few kind words to California center Kingsley Okoroh before their game Saturday and lived to regret it.
“I congratulated him for all the work he’s put in,” Tinkle said. “I probably should have kept my mouth shut.”
Okoroh played perhaps the best game of his career, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for his first career double-double, and the Golden Bears ended a nine-game Pac-12 losing streak with a 74-70 win over the Beavers.
Okoroh, a senior from England, made six straight free throws in the final six minutes to help secure the Bears’ first victory since Dec. 30 at Stanford. A 54-percent career free throw shooter, Okoroh finished 12 of 14 from the line. He also had five blocked shots.
Cal (8-16, 2-9) made just 9 of 20 free throws in a loss to Oregon Thursday, but converted 29 of 39 against OSU.
“Coach made us shoot free throws for 30 minutes straight (Friday in practice). It paid off today,” said Okoroh, who maintained players weren’t concerned they were close to equaling the program’s longest-ever losing streak of 10 games in 1961-62.
“I didn’t pay any attention to that,” he said. “We’ve just been preaching positive energy and we’ve competed in all the games. It felt good.”
First-year coach Wyking Jones was relieved.
“To say we needed that one is an understatement,” he said. “I’m just very happy for our guys. Throughout all the losses, throughout all the tough breaks, they’ve been able to continue to fight and continue to stay together.”
The Beavers (11-11, 3-7) lost for the fourth straight game and the sixth time in seven outings. They have dropped 19 straight road games over the past two seasons.
OSU led by 10 points early, but Tinkle said players got away from what was working.
“It is frustrating, but we’ve got to stay positive,” Tinkle said. “Toughness and discipline wins on the road, and we’ve got to continue to establish that.”
Darius McNeill scored 16 points for Cal and Marcus Lee had 14.
OSU’s Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Tres Tinkle added 19 points, making 10 of 10 from the foul line.
Oregon State: The Beavers’ most recent true road victory was 86-82 at UCLA on March 5, 2016. Stephen Thompson Jr., a freshman at the time, led the way with what was then a career-high 23 points, all of them in the second half.
Cal: The Bears are hoping to avoid setting a program record for most losses in a season. The 1978-79 team was 6-21 and the only other Cal team to suffer 20 defeats was the 1986-87 squad, which finished 9-20.
ALL FOULED UP: Officials called 51 fouls in the game, including 29 on the Beavers. “It was whistle-happy out there,” OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We’ve got to learn to defend without fouling, obviously. Give them credit, there’s been games they don’t convert there and they made them tonight.”
NO BERKELEY LOVE: Oregon State has lost 11 of its past 12 against Cal, and has not beaten the Bears in Berkeley since Jan. 22, 2009.
FRESHMAN DELIVERS: Justice Sueing, Cal’s leading scorer in Pac-12 games at 17.7 points per game entering play Saturday, picked up two quick fouls and was on the floor for just six minutes in the first half. But he finished with 11 points and has scored double figures in all 11 conference games.
Oregon State plays Washington State at home on Thursday.
Cal plays at Colorado on Wednesday.