No. 17 Washington bounces back to beat Cal
BERKELEY – Isaiah Thomas told his team there would not be another second-half letdown.
Washington spent more than two days in the Bay Area waiting to play again, eager to hit the court after a deflating last-minute defeat at Stanford.
The Huskies went to a couple of movies and had team meals. They attended study sessions and practiced.
“We were just ready to take it out on somebody else,” Thomas said.
He did that, all right.
Thomas scored 18 of his season-high 27 points in the first half and No. 17 Washington bounced back from the Stanford loss to beat California 92-71 on Sunday night and salvage a split on its tough Bay Area trip.
Thomas also dished out a career-high 13 assists, including two in a row on 3-pointers by Justin Holiday to start the second half as Washington quickly pulled away. Holiday scored 23 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 22 and 11 rebounds for the Huskies (13-4, 5-1 Pac-10), who shot much better than their cold performance against the Cardinal three days earlier.
“That was probably the best performance I’ve seen him have as a Husky,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of Thomas. “He was just like a band conductor, orchestrating that game for all of the 35 minutes he was in there.”
Harper Kamp scored 20 points and freshman Allen Crabbe followed up his season-best 30-point, 10-for-15 performance against Washington State with 16 points for the Golden Bears (9-8, 2-3). Cal couldn’t keep the momentum from its thrilling 88-81 overtime victory against the Cougars on Thursday night.
Washington shot 52.3 percent, going 13 for 29 from long range, to pull off a rare win at Haas Pavilion. The Huskies had won just twice in their previous 10 visits to Cal’s home floor, the last time an 87-84 victory on March 1, 2008.
This nationally televised game was a rematch of last season’s Pac-10 tournament final won 79-75 by Washington.
Holiday shot 9 for 14 with five 3-pointers after going 0 for 5 in the first half of the Stanford game and missing a shot at the end of that one. Bryan-Amaning went 10 for 15 from the floor and Thomas was 8 of 16 and made all eight of his free-throw tries.
Thomas has 103 assists already this season after getting 202 in his previous two years. He broke into Washington’s top 10 on the career assists list with Sunday’s outing. Thomas has seven or more assists in his last five games and eight or more in four of those.
“Fact of the matter, Isaiah Thomas pretty much had his way,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Washington was very good. They made shots, they played extremely hard. I didn’t think we were at our best. That’s a bad combination for us. I think they got woken up on Thursday, kind of got caught off guard. They came here full of it.”
Thomas is determined to show his critics he can get people involved and make things happen as a point guard. He has had to take on a bigger playmaking role since Washington recently lost point guard Abdul Gaddy to a season-ending knee injury that required surgery Friday.
The Huskies looked inspired and ready against the defending Pac-10 regular-season champions. Washington has had quite a two-week stretch losing Gaddy, finding out one of its players is being investigated by police for an allegation last weekend, then having its 11-game winning streak against Pac-10 opponents snapped in a 58-56 loss at Stanford on Thursday night. The loss also ended its school-record six-game road winning streak against the conference.
Thomas called it “real big” how he and his teammates have been able to block out everything and just play.
The Huskies couldn’t hold an 11-point lead with 8:55 left against the Cardinal. They were held to their lowest scoring total of the season and shot 36.2 percent from the field to have their six-game winning streak stopped. Romar made a lineup change by moving Scott Suggs into the starting five in place of Venoy Overton, the Pac-10’s active career leader in assists and steals.
“The last 10 minutes of this game were a lot different than the last 10 minutes of the Stanford game,” Holiday said.
Montgomery was honored before tipoff for his 600th career win Dec. 28 over Hartford. Athletic director Sandy Barbour presented Montgomery with a commemorative basketball and bottle of wine, then a video tribute showed on the main baseline scoreboards.
Richard Solomon added 14 points for Cal, making all five of his shots. But the Bears were outrebounded 43-27 and gave up 17 fast break points.
After Cal pulled to 23-22 on Emerson Murray’s basket with 8:10 left in the first half, Washington responded with a 13-2 burst to build a 36-24 lead. Bryan-Amaning scored five straight during the run and the Huskies led 48-33 at halftime after shooting 53.1 percent and making 7 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half.
Washington made eight of its first 12 shots to build a 19-11 lead.