They say “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish”. Except in Washington’s case tonight that was amended to “It’s not about how you did in the middle but about how you started and finished” as they sandwiched 19-10 and 17-4 runs getting outscored by 13 in the middle portion of the game. Still, it was enough as Terrell Brown Jr. had 18 of his 21 points in the 2nd half and Washington won by a 64-55 margin. The Huskies improve to 7-7 (2-2) on the season while Cal drops to 9-8 (2-4).
With Cal missing their starting point guard the Husky defense was able to fluster the Bears early. A Bey steal led to a layup by Jamal on the other end which put Washington up 8-2 after just 4 minutes.
Cal finally started to find a little bit of a groove as they banked in a foul line jumper. After Jackson Grant missed a hook shot, Cal answered with a hook shot of their own and then Matthews had his pocket picked leading to a Cal coast-to-coast dunk which tied the game at 8.
The exchange of runs continued as Cole Bajema entered the game and continued his recent hot offense. Cal’s defense left him open in the corner and he knocked it down to cap off an 8-0 Husky run. After an Andre Kelly baseline jumper, Bajema showed off a little offensive versatility as well. He pump faked his defender to get him in the air then drove to the rim and got fouled on a finger roll for an old fashioned 3-point play. Cal hit a tough 3-pointer in response but UW’s defense answered the next time down the court. Daejon Davis had his 4th steal of the half and in true Thybulle fashion he took it himself for a thunderous 2-handed dunk putting Washington up 21-13 with 8:10 remaining.
This is where things fell apart for the Huskies. Cal managed to hit 8 shots in a row including a trio of 3-pointers with fewer than 5 seconds left on the shot clock. Meanwhile the Washington offense stagnated with a combination of missed shots and careless turnovers driving into superior numbers. Jamal Bey had a pair of wide open 3-point looks during the stretch but they just refused to go down.
The end result was a 23-6 Cal run to finish the half with a Daejon Davis 3-pointer serving as the only glimmer of hope. As time wound down Jamal Bey got beat on a backdoor cut and the Bears managed a layup that just beat the buzzer to put the Huskies officially down 34-27 at the half. Despite managing 8 first half steals the Huskies lost the turnover battle 10-9 somehow.
It didn’t look like things were going to change in the 2nd half. Grant Anticevich hit a foul line jumper to start things off for Cal and a nice cut for an easy layup had the Bears up 38-29. Terrell Brown Jr. missed an uncontested point blank layup and it certainly looked like this just wasn’t Washington’s night.
Brown came back on the next possession though and made up for it with another layup. Then after good defense by Roberts earned a stop, Daejon Davis stepped into a 3-pointer and buried it to bring the Huskies within 4. It looked like UW might close it further but suddenly Cal’s backup center Lars Thiemann scored 6 points to keep the Dawgs at bay.
Terrell Brown wouldn’t be denied though and after a Nate Roberts deflection led to a Bajema steal, the long outlet ended up with Brown and he got the and-1 layup to fall and tied the game at 44. Cal immediately quieted the crowd though with 4 straight points leading into the under 12 timeout.
Cal’s leading scorer Andre Kelly made just his 2nd basket of the night after a nice spin move to preserve the 4 point lead and put the Bears up 51-47 with 8:30 remaining. That would be the end of the night for Cal’s offense as they didn’t make another field goal until there were fewer than 30 seconds remaining.
Brown once again got to the rim in transition and converted the and-1 layup to pull within 1. Then on the next possession he got Jordan Shepherd in the air and drew/knocked down another pair of free throws. Cal was forced to take a timeout to calm down Shepherd who was spitting mad at the calls on the sideline and very clearly on the sideline could be seen mouthing something similar to bullshirt.
With the narrow lead though the play of the game went in Washington’s favor. After a missed Daejon Davis 3-pointer PJ Fuller went for the rebound and didn’t get there in time. Cal’s Kuany Kuany swung his elbows as he pivoted and caught Fuller straight in the face. There was no foul called on the floor but upon review they deemed it a flagrant meaning 2 shots and the ball for UW. Fuller made both free throws and then Brown seemingly shattered Kuany’s ankles and knocked down a long 2 over his corpse (although in actuality Kuany clearly slipped on a sweat puddle on the floor). Daejon Davis immediately poked away a steal which led to a transition 3-pointer by PJ Fuller to cap a quick 12-0 Husky run and put the game out of reach.
Washington returns to the court on Saturday at 3p against Stanford with a chance to somehow go above .500 in conference play.
Double Bonus Dots
- Terrell Brown Jr. had a terrible first half with 3 points and several forced misses but he once again came alive when it mattered down the stretch. Put it all together and he finished with 21 points and 2 steals although 0 assists. To be fair, he would’ve had several if Nate Roberts had better hands and was able to finish in traffic.
- Daejon Davis had a scintillating defensive performance with 6 steals to go along with his 8 points and 7 assists. Cal tried to run essentially a high post offense except from the free throw line much of the night and Davis repeatedly came in and knocked the ball away when the ball handler was busy looking for cutters. This is the Davis UW fans thought they were getting when he transferred from Stanford.
- I think my MVP for the night (shockingly) may actually be Nate Roberts. He was phenomenal on the defensive end shutting down Andre Kelly who finished with 11 fewer points and 3 fewer rebounds than his season average. Roberts finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds including an out of body 6/7 performance from the foul line. If Roberts were capable of dunking the ball in a crowd he could’ve had 20 in this game but he made his free throws for once and played phenomenal defense. Washington finished a season high +9 on the boards and that’s almost entirely because of Roberts dominating the glass. I’ve been very critical of him this season but whenever he wasn’t posting up on the block he was great.
- If the Huskies had lost this game a lot of the blame would’ve been on Jamal Bey. He went 0/4 in the 1st half and then didn’t attempt a shot in the 2nd half as Hop mostly went with the 3-guard lineup of Brown, Davis, and Fuller. During his sophomore year Bey was clearly inside his own head and it greatly affected his performance. He’s clearly in another funk and UW really needs him to snap out of it soon and at the very least become someone capable of knocking down open 3’s again.
- That’s necessary because the Huskies after shooting well from deep during the road trip once again stunk on 3’s tonight. Washington finished 4/19 beyond the arc with Davis the only Husky to knock down more than 1. Matthews, Brown, Bey, and Grant combined to go 0/9. One of Matthews and Bey needs to step up in that regard to keep up with teams that have a functional offense unlike Cal.
- It has to be noted that the Dawgs got a friendly whistle in this one. There was the flagrant foul call against Kuany that swung the game of course. I wouldn’t have been overly upset if they’d decided to deem that a no call given that I don’t think it was intentional and he had no idea Fuller was there (although his elbows didn’t need to be extended like that). Overall though Washington committed just 9 fouls including 0 in the first 18 minutes of the game. The Huskies ended up with a 21-5 free throw advantage and +13 on makes. Cal definitely didn’t play as aggressively on offense as Washington did but I’m sure you could have easily found another 5 fouls committed by UW and not have felt it was egregious by the officiating. I felt the Huskies got a particularly poor shake of things against Colorado so it all evens out over the course of a season.