BERKELEY, Calif. — For the second straight game, the Washington Huskies raced to a phenomenal start and dominated the first half behind a suffocating defensive performance.
Last week, they watched their 17-point lead disappear before pulling out a win in the final seconds.
But on Wednesday night, Washington led by as many as 16 and this time controlled the second half while sailing to a 62-47 Pac-12 men’s basketball victory over California at Haas Pavilion.
Junior guard C.J. Wilcox led the Huskies (10-5, 2-0 league) with 19 points and senior center Aziz N’Diaye had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season.
Cal (9-6, 1-2) got 14 points from sophomore forward David Kravish. Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12’s leading scorer at 21.4 points per game coming in, scored just nine.
While the Golden Bears’ 47 points were a season low for a Washington opponent, the rebound disparity was the story. The Huskies pummeled Cal 43-28 on the glass, including 18-9 in offensive rebounds.
It got so bad for the Bears, you could hear the groans echo around the 79-year-old building each time Washington missed a shot and the Huskies collected the rebound.
“Our guys were very, very active on the boards,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. “I thought Aziz was the catalyst for the night. Patrolling the paint, scoring and rebounding, he did a lot out there.
“I thought we had another great defensive performance as a team, but also Scott Suggs guarded Allen Crabbe for the most part and did a phenomenal job.”
Crabbe shot just 3 of 12 from the field.
“If there’s one guy that’s going to kill us, we’re going to make a good effort to slow him down,” said Wilcox of the defensive effort on Crabbe.
When Scott Suggs missed a short jumper in the first half, reserve forward Jernard Jarreau cleaned the glass for a putback.
Tied 18-18 midway in the first half, Washington went on a 16-0 run to surge ahead 34-18. It was 34-20 at halftime — a first-half season low in points for Cal and for a UW opponent.
With less than eight minutes left, after a Wilcox floater rattled out, 6-foot-2 guard Andrew Andrews sailed over 6-10 Richard Solomon for a rebound and scored to put UW ahead 54-38.
When Cal desperately needed the ball, the Huskies gobbled up almost every missed shot and loose rebound. They smothered Crabbe, frustrated Justin Cobbs (nine points) and had Cal coach Mike Montgomery shouting from the sideline, “What floor are we on?”
What floor, indeed.
Haas Pavilion might as well have been Alaska Airlines Arena, because the Bears couldn’t shoot straight.
“On the road, we know we’re not going to shoot the ball well, so we have to play aggressive defense and rebound as much as possible,” Wilcox said. “Like tonight, when you shoot the percentage that we did (36.8), our defense and rebounding helped us win.”
The Golden Bears shot 37.7 percent, including 36.4 percent (8 of 22) in the first half. And they were only 3 of 10 at the free-throw line before halftime.
Romar said he began noticing a change in the way the Huskies played defense two weeks ago at Connecticut. They lost that game, but it appears they discovered a winning formula after two straight road wins in the Pac-12.
WASHINGTON — Simmons 1-8 1-2 3, N’Diaye 6-8 0-0 12, Gaddy 4-12 0-0 8, Suggs 2-9 0-0 4, Wilcox 7-16 4-6 19, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0, Breunig 0-0 0-0 0, Andrews 3-9 5-5 12, Jarreau 1-4 0-0 2, Kemp, Jr. 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-68 10-13 62.
CALIFORNIA — Thurman 2-5 0-0 4, Kravish 7-10 0-0 14, Cobbs 4-15 1-3 9, Wallace 0-4 0-4 0, Crabbe 3-12 2-3 9, Bak 1-2 0-0 2, Powers 1-1 0-0 2, Solomon 2-4 3-6 7. Totals 20-53 6-16 47.
Halftime—Washington 34-20. 3-Point Goals—Washington 2-11 (Andrews 1-3, Wilcox 1-4, Simmons 0-1, Gaddy 0-1, Suggs 0-2), California 1-6 (Crabbe 1-4, Wallace 0-1, Cobbs 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington 48 (N’Diaye 12), California 33 (Crabbe 8). Assists—Washington 10 (Gaddy, Wilcox 4), California 11 (Cobbs, Crabbe 4). Total Fouls—Washington 17, California 14. A—6,856.