Sophomore 7-footer Joe Wolfinger torched the Cal defense for a career-high 17 points for the Huskies, making 4 for 4 from outside the arc. The Bears wasted a career high 20-point effort from senior wing Eric Vierneisel who was perfect on 5 three-point attempts; his efforts kept Cal in the game.
After the game, a disappointed Vierneisel reflected on his career at Cal. He said,"Obviously I'm disappointed that we lost. My mom got emotional but I kept smiling. I had a great time here. Looking back at the whole experience, I wouldn't change it."
The visitors won despite another foul-plagued game from their star Jon Brockman. Hit with his 4th foul with 16 minutes still left in the game, he finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes of play. UW shot 53% for the game, and made 9 (64%) of their 14 three-point attempts. Ryan Appleby made 4 treys in the first half - but was then held without a field goal after intermission.
Seniors Armstrong, Hardin, Rayburn, Vierneisel
Unfortunately, the home team forgot to guard Wolfinger, who is well known for shooting from deep. This Saturday afternoon he nailed every shot he threw up, 6 of 6 from the floor.
Cal got off to an unusual 10-8 lead by the first media time-out. DeVon Hardin was displaying tremendous energy on the court this day, scoring 6 points in the first few minutes.
Seasoned spectators might have wondered,"Who is that new guy wearing #35?"
After the game, Hardin said,"It's the last time we're playing here and we wanted to come out with a lot of energy." This was Hardin's farewell to Newell Court at the Haas Pavilion.
Cal led for much of the first half and did so until Ryan Appleby hit a long three to make it 24-23 with 6:08 remaining. Cal regained the lead at 27-26 with 5 minutes left on 2 free throws by Hardin, but Justin Dentmon hit a three to put the Huskies ahead, 29-27, and Cal trailed the rest of the way.
With 8 minutes left in the half the visitors had only 17 points, but then added 32 more in the rest of the half, scoring on 13 of their final 15 possessions. It was 49-44 at the break.
Washington shot 54% in the opening 20 minutes, but Cal actually matched that from the field. (Cal leads the Pac-10 in offense.) The difference was UW's 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. Having averaged 14 turnovers for the season, the Huskies allowed just 1 in the opening half of this game; the story of the 2007-08 Cal season has been dominated by their lack of defense.
Hardin to the Hoop
Cal started Nikola Knezevic to begin the 2nd half, and he cooled off Appleby. Nobody scored for 2½ minutes until Tim Morris' tip-in gave Washington a 7-point lead - and Cal spent the rest of the game trying to climb back up the hill.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning hit a follow shot with 9 minutes left to make it 72-62. Ryan Anderson hit a three to get the Haas crowd back into it, and to pull the home team to within 5 points at 75-70. Washington's Justin Dentmon drove for a lay-up to make it a 7-point game, but then nobody scored for the next 4 minutes.
Wolfinger drilled a dagger three with 3:14 left to make it 80-70 - and made Cal's last chances look slim.
But then Patrick Christopher, who had been struggling all game with a strained hip, stuck a trey to pull Cal within 7. Moments later, Vierneisel hit his 5th three to make it a 4-point game with 2:11 to go - and the Haas crowd once again had hope.
Then came the key defensive possession of the game. With Cal desperately needing a stop, Dentmon backed Randle into the lane to get a short jumper to give the visitors a 4-point lead (83-79) with 56 seconds remaining.
Anderson hit 2 from the line to cut the lead to 2, but Venoy Overton split a pair of foul shots to make it 84-81.
Cal called time with 34.4 seconds left to set up a play.
Cal Taiko at Halftime
The Bears came out with an isolation play designed for Christopher, and it worked, except that as Christopher got to the rim (and tried to draw contact) he missed the shot and Brockman controlled the rebound.
Appleby was fouled, and stuck the free throws.
Anderson and Christopher each missed threes on the first two shots of the next possession, but Christopher hit the 3rd to make it a 4-point game with 1.4 seconds left.
Cal(deliberately) fouled Venoy Overton, who made 1 of 2, but then Cal's desperation inbound pass was knocked away to seal the game.
Two losses in SoCal would make likely a match-up against this same Washington team at the Wednesday night preliminary round of the Pac-10 tournament.
After the game, Coach Braun seemed confident that his team will respond."I know the character of our team. I believe our team will bounce back and be energetic."
Clearly disappointed with the defense, Braun commented on Washington's 44 points in the paint."We didn't get the kind of help we needed at the basket." He also noted that the Cal wings had given up post-position, and that Washington had taken advantage of that.
Coach Braun took time to recognized his seniors, saying, "I'm really proud of their efforts and their focus in practice. You always want to go out and play your best. I thought Eric and DeVon led the charge. They really stepped up today. I'm really happy for them."
Hardin finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, matching his season high for points from the Southern Miss game in November 2007.
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