By Morris Phillips
BERKELEY, CA–Remember the awful shooting Huskies that barely survived their non-conference schedule, and suffered embarrassing loses to Northern Illinois and Utah Valley?
That’s not how they roll these days. The Cal Bears can attest to that.
Jamal Bey scored 20 points, and Washington hit 12 of 23 from three in an 84-63 rout of host Cal on Thursday night. The visibly fatigued Bears dropped their ninth straight and their second, consecutive loss at Haas Pavilion by more than 20 points.
“We played like a tired basketball team,” coach Mark Fox said. “We were just a step behind everything. We got to get some rest and regroup.”
Cal (9-14, 2-10) fell behind immediately, trailing 10-2 less than four minutes in. A Washington scoreless stretch of more than four minutes provided the Bears and opening, but they failed to take advantage. With 12:22 remaining in the half, Cal trailed 10-8, but from that juncture the Huskies went from scoreless to bonkers.
Washington (12-8, 7-3) hit 11 of their next 19 shots to lead 38-29 at the break.
The individual scoring for the Huskies progressed like a relay race. Emmitt Mathews Jr. scored UW’s first seven on 3 for 3 shooting, then went quiet. The Pac-12’s leading scorer Terrell Brown Jr. was next with 13 of his 19 before halftime.
Bey, the lone non-transfer among the Huskies’ starters heated up after the break. Daejon Davis, the transfer from Stanford, took his turn after Bey.
The toll? The quartet combined for 27 made baskets, and ten of the Huskies’ 12 3-pointers. Only Brown did his work inside the arc, registering all eight of his buckets from two. And make no mistake, Cal was victimized everywhere, allowing 10 layups, three dunks and 17 fastbreak points.
“We have some tired guys,” Fox said. “They didn’t have the juice tonight.”
Among the teams in Cal’s five game-in-10 days stretch, UW was supposed to offer the respite. Cal’s other four opponents–USC, UCLA, Stanford and Washington State–all have NCAA aspirations, and figured to be merciless. In the lead up, Washington’s conference schedule was labeled as a run through the league’s bottom tier with Arizona the only ranked opponent.
Well, on Thursday, the UW’s run continued; the Huskies have won 7 of 9.
“We’re just coming in with a different mindset,” Davis said when asked about UW’s in-season turnaround. “Everyday there’s a message that goes in our group chat, and it’s ‘Believe.’ And that’s something we’re sticking by and we just want to put together as many wins in a row that we can. And it’s always good to get a road win.”
Obinna Anyanwu led Cal with 10 points, Jalen Celestine added nine in the absence of Andre Kelly, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Jordan Shepherd and Grant Anticevich combined to miss eight attempts from hree.
The Bears will be even more focused on Saturday for Washington State’s visit in hopes of avoiding their streak hitting 10 games. But focus might not mean fresher legs. The 1:00 pm tip comes just 36 hours after Thursday’s meaning the Bears will do more mental gymnastics than on-court conditioning.
“This is a one day prep,” Fox revealed.