By Morris Phillips
The Washington Huskies are the most recognizable thing the Pac-12 has to offer these days. Deep, athletic and experienced, UW currently projects to be a 10-seed were the NCAA tournament to commence next week.
UW is the only conference team to have a tournament profile at this point. Arizona, Oregon and Arizona State are seeking what Washington possesses.
UW’s description lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from where the Cal Bears reside. At 0-5 in conference play beginning Saturday, the Bears appeared to be the most downtrodden member of a conference collectively having a down year unlike any they’ve experienced in the last 20 seasons.
Given that juxtaposition, it no surprise that the Bears wilted quickly when push came to shove at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. After battling the first-place Huskies on even terms for 20 minutes, Cal’s offense deteriorated after halftime in a 71-52 defeat.
The Huskies staged a late rally to lead 29-28 at the break. That surge came after they missed 13 of the first 14 shots to start the game. But once UW started cooking, they didn’t cool, starting the second half on an 18-7 run that turned the contest into a rout.
The Bears shot just 23 percent after halftime, and a season-worst 31 percent for the game. They missed 14 of their 15 three attempts and gathered just eight assists. In rapid succession, the Bears saw their transition opportunities dwindle, their shooting plummet, and then the Huskies heated up. Washington went from missing shots early to canning 10 threes in the game.
“We started the game out getting stops and getting out in transition and I was happy to see that, but we really struggled against their half-court zone,” said coach Wyking Jones.
Roman Davis made his first start as a collegian. Teammate Andre Kelly came off the bench and led the Bears with 14 points in 18 minutes. Freshman Matt Bradley also started but couldn’t make a shot. He missed all ten that he attempted.
The Bears have dropped 13 consecutive Pac-12 conference games dating to February. They’ve also lost their last twelve Pac-12 road contests. They dropped seven straight overall, and in the last four they’ve failed to gain a lead in the second half at any point.
It’s not pretty. But if the Bears allow it, their losing ways could continue.
The Bears return to Haas Pavilion on Thursday night to face Colorado. Game time set for 8:00 pm PT.