BERKELEY, Calif. – Washington players walked onto the Haas Pavilion court after the game to meet with friends and family. Few others, besides security guards, were around. It seemed fitting because the Huskies owned the hardwood from the start of the night.
The Huskies won their second straight to open Pacific-12 Conference play, this time picking apart Cal, 62-47, in front of a serene Haas Pavilion crowd on Wednesday night behind a powerful rebounding performance and constricting defense.
The Huskies (10-5 overall, 2-0 Pac-12) received a big night from their big man, Aziz N’Diaye, who had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots to help UW dominate rebounding. Washington had a season-high 48 rebounds, a dramatic shift in a category that the Huskies have struggled with this season.
N’Diaye was the catalyst. In addition to his statistical accomplishments, he altered several shots.
“He did a lot out there,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
C.J. Wilcox scored 19 points to become the 37th player in Washington history with 1,000 or more career points on what was an otherwise trudging offensive night for the Huskies, who shot 36.8 percent.
So, it was a collaboration
between defense and rebounding – an upside down story line from earlier in the season.
Scott Suggs was the main factor in a lackluster night for the conference’s leading scorer, Allen Crabbe, who was held to nine points– 12 below his average – on 3-for-12 shooting from the field.
Although Washington bumbled its way through the first chunk of the second half, Cal (9-6, 1-2) was equally ineffective. The 34-20 halftime lead Washington built was maintained because the Huskies received multiple contributions. One possession, Desmond Simmons hit a baseline jumper. Another, Andrew Andrews grabbed an offensive board and put it back.
Washington’s 14-point lead at halftime was spurred by brutalizing Cal on the glass. The Huskies had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. Cal had just 13 total rebounds.
“They took it to us early and dominated us physically,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “I think Aziz was huge in there, as far as just a physical presence.”
The Huskies were able to turn those offensive rebounds and stern defense into a 13-0 run midway through the first half to go up by as many as 16 points. That largest lead of the half came after Andrews grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to put Washington in front 34-18. Washington went up by 19, 62-43, with 1:40 remaining in the game for its biggest lead.
“Our guys were relentless,” Romar said.
In the midst of the lead-expanding run, N’Diaye spiked a shot from Cal freshman Tyrone Wallace almost straight down, sending Andrews off on the break. He charged hard at the rim, was fouled and banked it in on his way to the floor.
Crabbe had just five points in the first half. Suggs did an excellent job chasing Crabbe around multiple screens and limiting how many times he received the ball. The Huskies also put Andrews and Wilcox on Crabbe for a stretch.
“(Suggs) has the length so that he was able to get up there and contest shots” Romar said. “But, we told our team that it wasn’t just Scott defending him, we had to guard him as a team.”
They did just that, shutting down one of the conference’s elite scorers for the second straight time – first was Washington State’s Brock Motum on Saturday in Pullman – on the way to a second road win.
“We’re just playing together as a team well,” said Abdul Gaddy, a former Bellarmine Prep player. “We just want to keep the train going.”
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