Well, shucks. There were plenty of warning signs leading up to this game. A tired Bears team coming off an emotional loss has to travel to face an angry Husky team in desperation-mode after stumbling through a three-game losing streak. Throw in bad match-ups all around and a daunting 11-0 UW homecourt record...and I don't think any of us would have bet the house on this one.
And yet some of us dared to hope. Admit it. Monty has done such a brilliant job with this team teaching solid fundamentals while instilling a scrapper's toughness and attitude. Why not us? Why not now? Spoiler alert. Rocky doesn't win his final bout.
It was ugly right from the tip. With the abruptness of a band-aid yanked off, the Huskies laid the ka-boom early and often. Transition baskets? Three-ball? Easy points in the paint? Stymy Cal's offense with size and athleticism? Check...check...check...and mate. Despite struggling against zone defense the last three games, the Dawgs showed no problems at all working it in to Bryan-Amaning, or lighting it up from - well, everywhere. When we tried to switch up to man, they drove the ball with ease and drew fouls or kicked it out to wide open shooters. With minutes to go, they were shooting an absurd 69% from deep. And Cal countered with...wait for it...0%. Not. Good. Our normally reliable inside duo of Kamp/MSF simply couldn't get the shots they were used to over the UW Twin Towers of NDiaye and Bryan-Amaning. With Crabbe shaken up from knee to the face, we were forced to go to our limited bench early with predictable results. Oh...and we decided to throw in a few inopportune turnovers just for kicks. The silver lining? We kept the lead under 30! That's right. You can only hope to contain us.
The good: The half was only twenty minutes long. Our offense actually wasn't too bad, (50% FG) and 9 assists on 13 baskets.
The bad: Turnovers and poor transition defense led to 16 points. We got killed on the glass and gave up 14 2nd chance points. And we got dominated down low while giving up 24 points in the paint.
The ugly: The twenty minutes that were played. Giving up 59.5% FG including 58.8% from 3 is less than ideal.
Ah...How being a Cal fan will tease you. A 5-0 run to start the half...gets immediately erased by an 13-0 Husky run. The rest of the game was just a glorified exhibition. Being down by an insurmountable amount, the Bears started pressing on offense which only fed the Husky transition machine. We all knew that Washington would win a streeball game. Our only hope was the turn this into ugly, grind-it-out affair. We sort of screwed the pooch on that one from the opening tip. We had too many guys forcing shots or trying to go one on one. Cue ugly blockfest. Meanwhile, the UW players were taking all manner of early shots, quick shots, forced shots, poor shots...but were hitting them anyway. At one point, it was 15/24 vs. 1/5 from 3. Fine. It was their night. Give them credit for soundly outplaying us on both ends. Let's hope we don't see them in the Pac-10 tournament, and try this again next year.
The good: Jorge didn't back down and never stopped attacking.
The bad: Allen Crabbe missed the whole 2nd half as a precaution and his status is uncertain. Our lack of dominant point guard play was exposed here. We needed to slow the tempo down and turn this into a half-court grinder. Instead, we played the entire game at their pace.
The ugly: Just about all of our flaws were on display tonight. Lack of depth. Lack of height. Lack of elite athleticism. Youth. Inconsistent defense.
Meh. This one was epically awful, but it doesn't change how I feel about this team. We all know they've been over-achieving. No shame in running into the league favorite when they had everything going their way. Shake it off. Regroup. Let's take out our angst against the Cougars. Go Bears!