The Washington Huskies did a number on California. Their 62-47 thumping had the Golden Bears questioning their toughness, their heart and their reason for playing basketball.
Sophomore forward David Kravish said Cal played like it didn’t have any heart in the second half. To several inside Haas Pavilion, it appeared as if the Bears gave up with about five minutes left.
When asked about Kravish’s comment, Cal coach Mike Montgomery didn’t want to go that far and say his team played without heart. But he questioned his team’s resolve and the willingness of Cal guards to mix it up inside. Especially guard Justin Cobbs who didn’t collect a rebound in 37 minutes.
It’s interesting to note Cal’s reaction because its post-game comments says a lot about Washington’s dominance.
“Usually you get a lot of holding and banging from Washington at their place and you don’t get that so much on the road,” Montgomery said. “But they were pretty aggressive and we didn’t react very well to it.”
The Huskies followed last Saturday’s solid defensive showing at Washington State with a suffocating effort at Cal. They throttled the Bears on the glass, outrebounding them 48-33 and 20-11 on offensive boards. They held Cal to a season low points for a UW opponent and the fewest points for the Bears since Nov. 26, 2010.
They forced 10 turnovers. They stymied Pac-12 leading scorer Allen Crabbe and held him to nine points, which snapped his 20-game streak of double-digit games. He was averaging 21.4 points.
“They just played harder than us,” Crabbe said. “That is all you can say.”
Crabbe added: ” It just hurts, it is embarrassing to lose like that on your own floor.”
It’s been awhile since Washington humiliated an opponent like that on the road. The Huskies believe they’ve discovered a winning formula and it starts with defense.
It wasn’t so long ago, Washington won games with its three-point shooting and high-scoring offense. But on Thursday, the Huskies converted just 2 of 11 three-pointers. They shot 36.8 percent from the field and managed just 62 points.
Despite the tepid offensive showing, UW posted their second largest win of the season. The Huskies took control late in the first half using a 16-0 run to break open a game tied 18-18. Once Washington surged ahead 34-18 with 3:04 left in the first half, Cal never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
“On the road, we know we’re not going to shoot the ball well so we have to play aggressive defense and rebound as much as possible,” said C.J. Wilcox (above right). “Like tonight when you shoot the percentage that we did, our defense and rebounding helped us win.”
Washington (10-5, 2-0) is the first Pac-12 with two road wins and a win Saturday at Stanford would give the Huskies an early edge to repeat as conference regular-season champions.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— If you had to pick a Pac-12 all-defensive team, it might include three Huskies including Scott Suggs. His defensive performance on Crabbe will be remembered at the end of the season when awards are decided. Suggs simply threw a blanket on Crabbe. He dogged him at every turn and fought over screens to stay in contact with Crabbe. Unofficially, Suggs gave up one basket to Crabbe who was 3 of 12 from the field. Suggs finished with four points and four rebounds.
— While Crabbe struggled, Wilcox scored a team-high 19 points in front of at least three NBA scouts who were in the building. Wilcox and Crabbe are often compared to each other. They had similar results Thursday. Both had eight rebounds, which tied a personal best for Wilcox. Both had four assists. And both made 1 of 4 three-pointers. They also had blocks, steals and shot well at the free throw line. However, and it was clear Wilcox outshined his counterpart largely because he made more shots, 7 to 3.
— Aziz N’Diaye notched his sixth double double this season and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. It feels as if you can pencil him in for 10 and 10 before every game. He averages 9.4 rebounds and 11.1 points. N’Diaye also had four blocks, including an emphatic slam in the first half that led to a UW fast break.
— Andrew Andrews scored 12 points in 21 minutes. He also collected a carer-high seven rebounds. Andrews made 5 of 5 free throws.
— Andrews and Abdul Gaddy combined to shutdown Cobbs, who had nine points on 4-for-15 shooting. Gaddy tallied eight points, four assists and three rebounds.
— Maybe Desmond Simmons was nervous playing near his hometown Vallejo for the first time as a Husky. He was paired against Kravish, who had 14 points. Simmons countered with three points on 1-for-8 shooting, five rebounds and two steals.
— After receiving his first game last Saturday, Jernard Jarreau played 14 minutes. He woudl have had more than two points if he could have finished layups despite being bumped in the lane. He was 1 of 4 on field goals.
— Shawn Kemp Jr. played three minutes in both half. He had two points and two rebounds.
— Martin Breunig and Hikeem Stewart got in the game late.