Washington Basketball team continues to surprise, defeating California 66-56 to improve to 3-1 in Pac-12 conference play
When the 9-22 Washington Basketball team changed head coaches, the most optimistic of us believed the Washington Huskies might finish at .500. But suddenly, after a solid win against the California Golden Bears 66-56, the Huskies are beginning to feel as though they might overshoot those original projections. After tonight’s win, these Huskies are 13-4 overall, and 3-1 in Pac-12 play. And that is good enough for second place in a conference which includes AP nationally ranked teams Arizona State (11th) and Arizona (17th).
The early conference success is doubly surprising as the team had played three consecutive Pac-12 contests on the road. A year ago, winning one of the three Pac-12 road games would have been ideal. This season, the team returned home with a 2-1 conference play.
A better test
But this game felt like a tougher test. Despite their record, California arrived to Washington riding a six-game winning streak over the Huskies. And the Golden Bears were just 1-2. In short, they could pierce the veil of any winning facade Washington may be hiding behind. Is Washington for real? California was just the right team to find out.
This was a hotly contested game in the first half. Cal jumped to early three-point leads after Justice Sueng and Darius McNeil layups. And early in the game, the Huskies struggled to find the handle on the ball. In fact, the game was plagued with sloppy ball control, as the two teams combined for 38 turnovers in the contest.
Hometown Huskies were too much
But the Washington Basketball team pulled away from California after the Golden Bears took the lead for the final time 24-22 at the 1:17 mark in the first half. After Jaylen Nowell hit a three-pointer to take the lead 25-24, Michael Carter III sealed the lead with a three-pointer of his own.
Let’s recap some important aspects of this game:
The California Golden Bears were led by freshman wing Justice Sueng. He more than doubled his season average by leading Cal with 27 points and 8 rebounds. No other Cal player scored in double digits.
Positive points going forward
Meanwhile, the #TougherTogether Washington Huskies were led by freshman wunderkind Jaylen Nowell at 20 points, but had four players in double digits. Another great stat from Washington was their three-point accuracy. Running a paltry 34.8 percent for the season, the Huskies stepped up to shoot 47.4 percent from the perimeter in this contest.
California will now travel to face Washington State on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Meanwhile, Washington will now host 3-1 Stanford on Saturday January 13 as well.
With Washington tied for second place in the Pac-12, and with that surprising win over 12th ranked Kansas, the Huskies are emerging as a potential Cinderellas story for this year’s Pac-12 championship and perhaps NIT or NCAA tournament play. The next game, hosting Stanford (9-8, 3-1), will play a big role as to how that storyline develops.