Can it happen again? Maybe so. The situations are eerily similar.
Last year Washington surprised everyone and began the Pac-12 season 4-0 after a lousy nonconference season. The Huskies followed their scintillating league start with a four-game losing streak and losses in seven of the next eight games. UW finished 9-9 in the conference.
This season, Washington surprised many with a 3-1 start in the Pac-12 after another unspectacular nonconference season. When asked why his teams do so well in the first four games of the season, coach Lorenzo Romar laughed and said he hoped UW would play as well the rest of the way.
Well, the rest of the season got off to a rocky start at California. The Golden Bears handed the Huskies an 82-56 defeat that was reminiscent of their early double-digit blowouts, which prompted Romar to revamp the defense.
On Wednesday, the defense did decent job in the first half while holding Cal to 30 points and 46.2 percent shooting.
However, the offense fell apart in a major way.
The Huskies had never been so inept offensively. They managed just 17 points in the first half on 7-for-29 shooting (24.1 percent). They were 0 for 6 on three-pointers. They couldn’t get to the rim. And when they did get to the basket, they couldn’t get a shot over 6-10 Richard Solomon and 6-9 David Kravish.
The Huskies also had difficulty creating shots for C.J. Wilcox. He didn’t see any gimmicky defense, but Cal made sure he didn’t get anything easy. He finished with a harmless 18 points, 12 in the second half when the outcome was decided.
“I thought he tried to put us on his back, what you’d expect him to do,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “It just didn’t totally work out.”
Cal just might be a bad matchup for UW. Or maybe the Bears displayed the blueprint to defeating the Huskies. They turned the tables on Washington. They packed their defense in the paint. They switched ball screens. They forced the smaller UW players to run its offense time and time again. And when the Huskies grew tired and got impatient, they drove into the lane and took contested shots over bigger players.
Every significant statistic favors Cal.
The Bears had more rebounds (44 to 33), assists (22 to 12), points in the paint (38 to 26), points off turnovers (10 to 4), second-chance points (10-6), fast break points (16 to 8), bench points (28 to 16) and blocks (7 to 1).
“They beat us pretty soundly,” Romar said.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— Wilcox did what leaders do, he stepped up and delivered. The only problem, no one else showed up. It felt at times as if Wilcox was out there by himself. He had a nice feed for an alley-oop jam, but too often Wilcox tried to pull off daring dribble drives that missed badly. And he was off the mark on 5 of 7 three-pointers, including a deep attempt that hit the side of the glass.
— Nigel Williams-Goss flirted with a triple double, which wasn’t apparent during the flow of the game. And quite honestly, his numbers may be a little deceiving because the final 10 minutes were essentially garbage time. Still, the freshman had seven points – all in the second half – seven rebounds and six assists, which offset two turnovers in 36 minutes. He was 3 of 11 from the field.
— Tough matchup for 6-5 Mike Anderson, who was overwhelmed inside by Kravish. The Cal forward finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kravish was also the key to the Bears’ run in the first half. The Huskies sent an extra defender to help Anderson in the post and in doing so, other Cal players found scoring opportunities. Anderson finished with eight rebounds, including four on the offensive end. He also had five points and two assists..
— Andrew Andrews went flying into the big guys like he normally does, except this time he had a difficult time finishing at the rim and the officials rarely rewarded him with a foul. However, he did a nice job drawing a foul on freshman Jordan Matthews. But for the most part, it was a tough night for Andrews, who was 2 for 11 from the field for seven points.
— Perris Blackwell had his worst game as a Husky. He was 0 for 5 and held to a season-low one point. He also had just one rebound, which was another season low. Blackwell played 23 minutes. He also had difficulty slowing down Solomon, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. In the past two games, Blackwell is averaging 1.5 points on 1-for-16 shooting and three rebounds.
— It felt like freshman Darin Johnson tried to do a little too much in front of many hometown family and friends. He was 1 for 6 from the field and 5 of 5 at the free throw line. Johnson played just four minutes in the first half. He finished with seven points in 12 minutes.
— You would think Desmond Simmons would be an solid alternative on nights when Anderson is struggling with a size mismatch. Simmons played 11 of his 17 minutes in the first half, but he had a minimal impact. He was 1 for 2 from the field, including a bad miss on a three-pointer. He was also 3 of 6 at the line for five points. Simmons also had three rebounds.
— Washington needed much more from Shawn Kemp Jr. than four points and no rebounds in 15 minutes.
— Freshman Jahmel Taylor and walk-on senior Conner Smith had mop-up duty. Neither player registered a statistic.