A slow start followed by a poor defensive second half wasn't enough to keep the Dawgs out of the game, but it was ultimately too much for Washington to overcome, as UW fell to Cal at home 90-88 in an entertaining offensive showcase.
The turning pound for the Huskies following the slow start came halfway through the first half. Trailing 13, Washington immediately went on an 8-0 run powered by two consecutive triples from Darin Johnson. Johnson had missed all of his previous shot attempts. The run was sparked using a no-bigs lineup of Johnson, Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews, Mike Anderson and Quevyn Winters. The five perimeter players showcased strong passing during the time they shared the floor.
When a team uses a lineup like the one the Huskies were forced into featuring perimeter players, ball movement and shooting are put at a premium. If Johnson and Winters can hit from outside then we could see the lineup used more often. WIlliams-Goss had a strong shooting day for himself, Andrews has been finding his rhythm and Anderson is the best outside shooter the Huskies have.
The defensive component that is important with that sort of lineup is creating turnovers to allow transition opportunities. Causing turnovers was no issue, but that lineup gives up size and rim protection, an issue when facing a player whose main strength is attacking the rim like Tyrone Wallace. Wallace is able to use his off-hand to bend the rules on push-offs and hooks to attack the rim better than almost anyone in the conference.
That 8-0 run was a big part of the Huskies clawing themselves to within two at the half, XXX
UW spent most of the second half clawing its way back, at times tying the game but trailing for a majority of the final period. Dorsey hit his first three of the contest early in the half, and showed aggressiveness in getting to the hoop and drawing a foul, something we don't see out of him very often. Winters also was able to get to the basket, a by-product of the floor spacing provided by the perimeter-oriented lineup.
In that second half, Andrews rolled his left ankle on an attempt to finish in transition. He returned to the game, but struggled following the injury, losing a bit of the quickness that allows him to take and make difficult shots. His ball-handling was still an important part of the comeback process for the Dawgs.
In the end, the scoring of the Pac-12's leading scorer in Wallace and distributing of David Kravish was almost too much for Washington to overcome in the second half, but Wallace missing the front end of a one-and-one with 26 seconds remaining game the Huskies new life. Williams-Goss knew the game was his, and hit a free throw line jumper to put his team up 88-87 with under 20 seconds remaining.
Cal had one last opportunity to win the game, and win it they did. Tyrone Wallace drove right off of a screen from Kravish, kicked the ball to Sam SInger at the top of the key, who jabbed Andrews back. Andrews struggled to recover back onto Singer on his bum ankle, and Singer his a three with four seconds remaining. Williams-Goss drove down the floor with time running out, but his desperation three missed wide left.
Williams-Goss finished with 31 points on 11-17 shooting to go along with six assists and six rebounds. Jordan Matthews led Cal with 23 points, including four threes. Matthews is shooting above 50 percent from deep in conference play, so a 4-6 showing from deep is not abnormal for him. What was abnormal was Williams-Goss hitting three threes, the first time he has done so since Long Beach State. He did so four times last season (per Christian Caple).
WIlliams-Goss's shot looked more fluid and more confident after he hit his first shot from deep, and if he can keep it going his offense alone might be able to sustain the Dawgs through conference play once Jernard Jarreau returns.
In lieu of the usual quick recap and Digging Deeper posts, we are giving you a single recap due to staff unavailability. There is some other important game going on today.