Strong defensive efforts from both teams lead to low shooting percentages and a relatively low scoring game last night. Despite the game remaining close throughout, a late second half push by the Bears and anemic shooting from the Huskies ended in a 69-59 loss for Washington.
Cal’s Ivan Rabb lead the way for the Golden Bears with 14 boards, one steal, a block and 20 points. The sophomore forward, who many thought would be a lottery pick after last season, looked sharp against a smaller Washington front court. Despite their win, Cal had an overall poor shooting night. This team has struggled offensively at times throughout the season, so it’s hard to say whether it was an improved Husky defense or just a poor shooting performance by the Bears, but the likely answer is that some of both contributed to their struggles.
The Huskies did look more aggressive on defense at times, with some impressive defensive highlights. However, the lack of front court depth hurt them in the end, as Mathew Atewe fouled out late, while Dickerson ended the game with four fouls of his own. Sam Timmins got the start at the 5 spot for the Dawgs, but continued to look slow and outmatched on both ends of the floor, and contributed little in his 8 minutes of playing time.
In his first Pac-12 road game, Markelle Fultz had one of his worst shooting nights as a Husky. The leading scorer in the Pac-12 went 3-15 from the floor, including 0-3 from deep, but still managed to finish with a respectable line of 4 boards, 4 dimes, one steal, one block and 12 points. While he looked like probably the best player on the floor (rivaled last night by Rabb), Fultz appeared rattled at times throughout the game and really struggled from the line, hitting on 6-10, while the team as a whole shot 58.8% (10-17).
After the game, Romar would point to poor free throw shooting as one of the reasons they let this one go. The other reason he referenced was a lack of patience while on offense. It was evident throughout the game that the fast-attack/quick transition Husky offense wasn’t working against Cal’s staunch D, as shooters for the Huskies repeatedly made poor decisions by taking quick and contested shots.
One positive take away from the game was increased playing time for Matthew Atewe. In the first game since Malik Dime’s broken finger (out for 4-6 weeks), Romar inserted Atewe, a 6’ 8” junior, into the rotation for a season high 24 minutes. While the stat line doesn’t scream it (4 points with 4 boards), his presence was felt immediately on the defensive end of the floor with 4 big blocks.
It was a question mark early on in the season why we weren’t seeing more of Atewe, but it looks like Romar’s hand has been forced. Let’s hope that out of the ashes of Dime’s injury will rise a basketball-oriented phoenix in the form of Matthew Atewe (maybe... just maybe that’s a stretch).
Beyond Atewe, a number of other Huskies had solid contributions throughout the game. David Crisp continues to be a spark plug for this team offensively and was the leading scorer for the Dawgs tonight with 16 points. He went 6-14 from the floor, including hitting 4-7 from deep. Crisp is currently ranked 3rd in the conference in number of 3’s made. Other notable efforts came from the likes of Mattise Thybulle who finished with 5 boards, one assist, a steal and 11 points, as well as a near double-double from Noah Dickerson, who had 9 boards, one dime, two blocks and 13 points. Dickerson showed off some variation in his offensive abilities, doing his damage from all over the floor.
The Dawgs will stay down in the Bay for their next match up against a 9-8 Stanford team (1-4 in conference) on Saturday at 5 on the Pac-12 Network. In case you’re wondering, that’s AFTER the Seahawks game... so no excuse not to watch.