Some days you turn on the Pac-12 Network hoping to watch your favorite referee blow their whistle for a couple of hours and some insensitive players try to play a basketball game in between. No one really wanted to keep watching this eyesore of a game but the refs made it last as long as possible with 8 technical fouls and multiple long reviews. Eventually though the Huskies managed to outlast Cal by a score of 65-56 to improve to 16-13 (8-10) on the season. Keion Brooks had a 24-point double double to help lead the way for the Dawgs.
Coming into the game we knew Cal had one of the worst offenses in the country and it certainly showed early. The Bears managed just 5 points over the first 8 minutes of the game as shot after shot came nowhere close to ending up in the basket. Washington didn’t exactly set the world on fire but Keyon Menifield had 7 quick points to help the Huskies get up to a 13-5 advantage going into the under-12 timeout.
Braxton Meah came out of the game for a breather and Cal immediately started attacking the basket. In less than 2 minutes the Bears managed a pair of and-1 baskets at the rim and got right back into the game at 16-12. Meah re-entered for Jackson Grant immediately after the 2nd one.
With Meah back in the game Cal’s drives were generally fruitless. The Husky big man had a pair of blocks and that allowed the offense to start to get going again. Keion Brooks Jr. drove and threw down a ferocious one-handed slam through uncalled contact to put UW up 22-13 with 6:07 remaining in the first half. It seemed like it had the potential to be a momentum swinger that would allow UW to go on a big run.
OK BROOKS— Washington Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) February 24, 2023
Nope. Cal hurried off the make and managed to draw a foul on Braxton Meah. UW’s bench already up after the dunk thought it was a clean block and someone did something the ref didn’t like as they called a technical on the bench. Cal made the first 3 of their 4 free throws, then got the offensive rebound which resulted in a lob dunk. That meant a 5-point possession to bring Cal to within 4 again. On the next Husky possession Meah tried to post-up and was called for an offensive foul, his second. He took a seat on the bench next to Grant and Langston Wilson entered.
Cal ended up cutting the UW lead to just 22-20 when Wilson was a little late on a rotation and the Bears had an easy drive for a dunk on the weakside. They had a chance to take the lead but the Bears missed on a 3-point attempt as part of an 0/7 first half from deep. Washington ended up with the rebound and Keyon Menifield threw a terrific bounce pass through traffic to Koren Johnson for a layup. Johnson stole the ball on the perimeter and after a weird sequence of events Brooks finished a putback dunk to give the Huskies a little cushion again.
There was a little concern over the final few minutes. Keyon Menifield was fouled hard going to the rim and the training staff taped up his right wrist that was used to break his fall. He stayed in the game though and made a free throw after the tape job. Langston Wilson also ended up picking up 3 fouls in just 5 minutes but Cal made just 1 of 4 attempts from the line in the closing stretch. Washington got the ball with exactly 30 seconds left and Cole Bajema ended up having to put up a 3 as the clock wound down but it swished through to give Washington a 32-24 advantage at the half.
Bajema’s 3 were the only points scored by Washington from someone other than Brooks (12), Menifield (10), or Johnson (7). Cal held a 9-3 offensive rebound advantage to help balance out their many missed shots and attempted 11 more free throws. Braxton Meah got to the break with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks but 0 shot attempts.
Meah finally got his first shot attempt when Keyon Menifield blew an open layup but Meah was ready to clean it up with a putback dunk. He picked up his 3rd foul on the defensive end but Hop left him out there. It paid off when after a back and forth sequence Menifield and Meah ended up in a 2v1 fastbreak attempt and Keyon threw the lob for Braxton who slammed it home to put the Huskies up 38-25.
Washington didn’t like the 3rd foul on Meah but the overall calls started out the 2nd half going against Cal. Monty Bowser picked up his 4th foul after having made consecutive baskets and argued the call. The refs called him for a technical (his 5th) then after a F-bomb reaction from Bowser the refs called him for yet another technical. Cole Bajema who entered the game as an 88% free throw shooter made just 2 of the 4 free attempts for maybe a little bit of ball don’t lie from the overzealous refereeing. Meah also got fouled and made both for 4/6 free throws in the same possession.
The officials continued their reign of terror as Braxton Meah picked up his 4th foul on the absolute minimum amount of contact on a play that wasn’t even a shot attempt. As is tradition, Jackson Grant came in the game and had the ball stripped then committed a frustration foul a half second later. Langston Wilson entered the game and Cal immediately posted up on him for a basket to cut it to 42-31.
The Washington offense finally found a little rhythm at that point though. Keion Brooks hit a wide open 3, Koren Johnson made a tough midrange shot through uncalled contact, and Langston Wilson banked in a baseline jumper. The 7-0 run over a couple of minutes gave Washington their largest lead of the game at 18 points.
Cal continued to fight and went on a 6-0 run that included Washington going 0/3 from the free throw line during that stretch. The Bears continued to dominate on the offensive glass with Keion Brooks in at center and managed multiple put back dunks with no one close to boxing out. Hop called timeout with Washington’s lead down to 49-37.
It looked like Cal’s run would continue as Menifield got stripped but Keyon got it right back with a steal of his own and Keion Brooks Jr. threw it down in transition again. That only momentarily slowed down the Bears. Another putback dunk followed by Cal’s first 3-pointer of the night cut the lead to 10 points for the first time since the beginning of the half.
Coach Hopkins decided he couldn’t wait any longer to put Meah back in with his 4 fouls and Braxton immediately drew a foul posting up but missed both free throws as UW continued to melt down from the line in the 2nd half. Cal attacked Meah with his foul trouble and managed a dunk and then a layup as part of a 15-3 run over more than 6 minutes.
That’s when the terrible refs bailed the Huskies out as Keyon Menifield seemingly got caught in the air and threw it straight to a Cal player who would’ve had a layup to cut it to 4. Instead Cal was called for a phantom foul and Menifield made both shots. Lars Theimann attempted a jump hook and landed on Braxton Meah’s foot and went down in a heap of pain with a rolled ankle. UW was allowed to press the man advantage and Keion Brooks Jr. had an easy dunk to put the Huskies up 10.
Cal hit a 3-pointer and then Koren Johnson was called for UW’s second flop of the game which negated a Cal turnover following the rebound (and after a lengthy review). With UW’s lead at 6, Cal got a loose ball and looked like they had an easy basket attempt. Braxton Meah though blocked the shot and after another lengthy review the refs determined the clock operator incorrectly reset possession and it was a Cal shot clock violation. Mark Fox was disgusted with the call and picked up (say it with me folks) another technical foul with just a few minutes left.
Each team had a few more baskets but the Bears never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way as a steal and layup with 2 seconds left cut the final margin down to 9 at 65-56.
Washington finished the game 15/26 (58%) from the free throw line or it wouldn’t have been remotely close. Also keeping it close was Cal’s 17 offensive rebounds. The Bears shot just 31.3% from the floor but 21 FT attempts and 15 more FG attempts than UW kept them into the game until the end.
Keion Brooks Jr. finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds but had 5 turnovers including getting stripped on the perimeter at least 4 times. Keyon Menifield finished with 16 points and a team high 5 assists plus 5 rebounds. Braxton Meah had just 6 points but was an absolute difference maker on defense with 10 rebounds and 5 blocks despite sitting much of the 2nd half in foul trouble. Koren Johnson had 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals as the only other Husky with more than 5 points.
The Dawgs return to action on Sunday afternoon at 3p at Stanford in their final road game of the season and then will have a week off before the regular season finale hosting WSU.