Cal hands UW first Pac-12 home loss

Andrews Cal

Andrews Cal -

Guard Andrew Andrews drives to the basket in the second half of Washington's 72-59 loss to Cal. After struggling offensively for the past four games, Andrews scored 21 points against the Bears to lead all scorers.

Photo by Joshua Bessex

The Washington men’s basketball team is different in the friendly confines of Hec Edmundson Pavilion. In Seattle, the Huskies have avoided the debilitating scoring droughts, the lack of energy, and porous defense that plague them on the road.

Saturday afternoon, they brought the road home.

A 19-2 California run to end the first half erased the UW’s double-digit lead at Hec Edmundson Pavilion and propelled the Golden Bears to a 72-59 win. It was the UW’s first Pac-12 home loss this season and snapped a seven-game home winning streak.

“We began to play like we did on the road,” head coach Lorenzo Romar said of Cal’s run. “This is the first time in league play that that’s showed up. We just have to be mentally tougher. We have to be able to will ourselves the other direction.”

The Huskies went up by 12 in the first half, as they dominated the rebounding battle early. Although the Bears owned the size advantage, the Huskies were effective on the offensive glass, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds, which led to 13 second-chance points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Andrew Andrews.

Andrews gave the Huskies a 27-15 lead at the 6:39 mark of the second half, but Cal finished the half on a 19-2 run.  Cal’s Tyrone Wallace helped fuel his team’s spurt, scoring nine points, dishing out two assists, and getting one steal. The UW was scoreless for more than six minutes during that run and committed five turnovers.

“A couple of turnovers on our part let them get out in transition and they started to get a little feel,” Andrews said. “After that they started playing with a little momentum behind them.”

Senior C.J. Wilcox didn’t score his first points until the final nine seconds of the first half, when he broke Cal’s 17-0 run at the time. The UW senior was more aggressive to start the second half, but was still ineffective, missing four of his first five shots from the field. He finished with eight points, which tied his season-low. Cal built a 13-point lead seven minutes into the second half as the UW offense carried its first-half struggles over to the other side of the break.

Freshman Nigel Williams-Goss, who started 3-of-3 from the field, missed six of his next seven. He finished with 12 points, one assist, and six turnovers.

Andrews, who tied his career high with 21 points to lead all scorers, hit two straight baskets to help the Huskies to an 8-0 run in the second half. An off-balance, step-back jumper cut the deficit to five, but the UW never got closer than that.

“We had our opportunities,” Romar said. “We certainly had our opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize. Very unfortunate.”

After the game, Romar questioned whether he and his staff had prepared the Huskies to be mentally tough enough to hang in the Pac-12. With his team heading to Oregon and Oregon State for their next two games, he said it needs to “have a mental adjustment fast before we go out there on the road.”

Despite a rocky start to Pac-12 play, the Huskies fell back on the fact that they had a home-heavy slate to end the season. With Saturday’s loss, that calling card may be gone.

“This puts our backs against the wall,” Wilcox said. “We have to fight and claw our way out and try to win the rest of our games.”

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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