The Huskies are no stranger to come from ahead losses on the road this season. They were up in the second half against both Utah and Colorado before ultimately letting those opportunities slip through their fingers. It looked to be happening again tonight as Cal turned an 11-point Husky 2nd half advantage into a 6-point Bears lead with 2 minutes left. Washington took advantage of some Cal missed free throws and Moses Wood’s corner 3-pointer beat the buzzer to give the Dawgs a 77-75 win and improve to 11-7 (3-4) on the season.
Washington decided to make a change and start Wilhelm Breidenbach at center which was an interesting choice going against the best frontcourt in the Pac-12 with Fardaws Aimaq down low and Jaylon Tyson at power forward. Cal decided to attack that matchup right away and tried to get the ball to Aimaq whenever possible. He had to settle for a few midrange shots though and the Huskies were able to keep pace as a Keion Brooks Jr. dunk tied the game at 9 after 5 minutes
Cal’s star Jaylon Tyson missed a step back jumper with a foot on the line early in the game but swished it through to hit his first 3-point attempt and give the Bears the lead back. Braxton Meah entered the game and was effective coming off the bench. He got an and-1 layup to go off the glass and shortly after was fouled on a shot. Unlike in previous games where he has struggled, Meah went 3/3 from the free throw line in just over a minute to put UW up 18-14.
The Golden Bears answered with an 8-0 run Meah and Paul Mulcahy combining to go 0/3 from the floor with a turnover during that span. Keion Brooks Jr. broke the skid knocking down a midrange jumper and he quickly caught fire. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half but Brooks was UW’s main source of offense ending up with 16 points in the first half.
Koren Johnson kicked it out to Anthony Holland in the corner as time was winding down in the period and he knocked down the 3 to finally give UW back a little separation of a 40-35 lead at the break.
The three-point shooting continued to pick up after both teams returned from the locker room. Sahvir Wheeler and Wilhelm Breidenbach each knocked down a 3 for UW to give the Huskies their largest lead of the night at 48-37. Cal immediately answered with a three-pointer of their own from Jalen Cone to make UW’s double digit lead extremely brief.
Sahvir Wheeler made his third 3-pointer of the game to put UW up 62-55 with 10 minutes left and that’s where UW began their trademark collapse late on the road. Washington went scoreless over nearly 5 minutes and allowed Cal to regain confidence as they went on a 10-0 run to go back in front 65-62 prompting a Mike Hopkins timeout.
Washington called a good play coming out of that break and got Anthony Holland wide open in the corner to knock down the shot and tie the game up but Cal immediately answered with a 3 of their own. Holland got two more tries from the same corner on the next possession to tie it up again but both missed before the second rebound attempt went out of bounds off the Huskies.
That opportunity seemingly slipped away as Fardaws Aimaq hit a jump hook over Brooks on the other end. Moses Wood tried to keep Washington in it. He got held coming around a screen and made both free throws then drew a fortuitous charge on the other end to get the Huskies the ball back trailing 70-67 with 3 minutes remaining.
Once again then though the Huskies had multiple open 3-pointers to tie the game and missed both of them before Cal answered with a made 3 of their own to go up 6 with 2:04 left to seemingly clinch it.
Washington continued to hang around and stay alive a little longer though. Cal missed the front end of a 1-and-1 while Moses Wood hit his pair to bring Washington within 2 points and 33 seconds remaining. The Huskies went full-court press and immediately fouled twice with the Bears in the bonus. They made 2 out of 3 free throws, with Aimaq missing the front end of a 1-and-1, but Anthony Holland hit a corner 3 in between meaning Washington trailed by just one point on the final possession.
Cal ran a zone look that double teamed Keion Brooks Jr. at the free throw line and Washington wasted precious time trying to get him the ball. He finally caught an entry pass with about 8 seconds left and tried to drive to the rim but Aimaq swatted it out of bounds. Wheeler struggled to get the ball inbounds but finally resorted to tossing it up to Brooks out past the top of the arc. He quickly was doubled but found Moses Wood open in the corner. Cal’s close out attempt came in too late and the ball sank through the net just as the clock hit double zeroes (Wood was also clearly fouled but it didn’t matter with no time remaining).
The Huskies finished the game shooting just 10/35 from deep (29%) but made their last two attempts which was enough to get it done. That was thanks to the free throw shooting differential where UW went 15/16 versus Cal’s 13/22 including multiple misses on the front end of 1-and-1’s in the final 2 minutes.
Keion Brooks Jr. led 4 Huskies in double figures with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Anthony Holland had a season high 14 points on 4/9 3-point shooting while Wheeler and Wood added 13 points apiece. Fardaws Aimaq was the star for Cal with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Leading scorer Jaylon Tyson was held to 17 points on 18 shots.
Washington returns to action on Saturday night in Palo Alto against a Stanford team that has been without a pair of starters but has won 4 of 5 (pending tonight’s game against Wazzu which is just kicking off at time of publication).