With the loss, Washington (16-6, 7-3) gave up their share of first place in the Pac-10 to UCLA, who beat USC Wednesday night. The Huskies were led by the 21 points of Quincy Pondexter, while Cal (17-6, 6-4) was able to get contributions outside from Randle and Robertson, and inside help in the form of 14 points from Jordan Wilkes and 13 points from Jamal Boykin.
As they have most of the year, the Huskies gutted things out for the first twenty minutes, taking a 32-30 lead into half despite turning the ball over nine times and missing all five of their attempts from 3-point range. They pushed their advantage to nine with 16:48 left in the game after two Jon Brockman free throws.
"Our chemistry and focus at the beginning of the game cost us," Pondexter said. "They came together as we fell apart. We couldn't get the stops down the stretch. We didn't have any attention to defense and it bit us in the butt."
"It was like trying to hold up the dam, and if help didn't come it was going to burst," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added. "We were up two at half despite all the errors, and it caught up with us."
The Huskies had done a nice job of sharing the ball and getting assists this season, but they could only muster six Thursday night, a season-low. Romar said after the game that Cal's stifling man-to-man defense hurt UW, in part because they've been playing a ton of zone teams.
"Collectively as a group, we didn't look to make the extra pass," Romar said. "And it hurt us big-time. We just were not moving the basketball."
Spurned on by Randle, the Bears went on a 10-point run to go up four with 12:28 left. And when Washington's Elston Turner hit a 3-point shot to trim the Bears' edge to four, Cal went on an extended 9-2 run, stopped by an Isaiah Thomas jumper with 5:40 on the clock. With no answers on the defensive end, the Huskies surrendered another run, this time 10-2, until Justin Dentmon made three free throws with less than a minute left and the outcome a formality.
"In the first half, you could see it coming," Romar said of the Bears' second-half effort, one that saw them shoot nearly 65 percent from the field. "They were like a well-oiled machine in the second half."
The Huskies' Brockman was a beast on the boards, pinning down 15, but could never get started on the offensive end. He failed to make a field goal for only the second time this season, scoring all four of his points via free throws.
"They didn't commit to a double team, but they just parked a guy in the middle," Romar said of the Bears and their ability to stop the senior forward. "He had nowhere to go. We just have to pass the ball out at that point."
And Dentmon, who combined to score 53 points the last two games, was held to just one field goal in the first half, but bounced back to add 12 more in the second half.
"Justin was denying Patrick Christopher all over the floor," Romar said. Christopher, Cal's second leading scorer, was held to three points for the game. "They kind of cancelled each other out defensively, but Justin bounced back in the second half."
But Washington had no answer for Randle, who was bottled up for the first twenty minutes. The second half was a much different story, as he matched his season average of 19 points. And frankly, they didn't have an answer for any other Bear that decided to take a shot the final 16 minutes.
And just like this game was the polar opposite of the 3OT thriller in Seattle between Cal and Washington earlier in the season, Pondexter knew this contest ended up being a tale of two halves. "I can't put my finger on it," he said. "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. We don't know how to play the same way every day. We have to play a lot better on defense to win championships."
Points: Pondexter 21, Dentmon 14, Thomas 13, Overton 8, Gant 6, Brockman 4, Turner 3, Holiday 2
Rebounds: Brockman 15, Pondexter 8, Dentmon 4, Gant 3, Holiday 3, Turner 2, Thomas 1, Overton 1,
Assists: Dentmon 2, Pondexter 1, Turner 1, Gant 1, Overton 1
Steals: Dentmon 1, Thomas 1
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 2, Dentmon 1, Holiday 1
Jeckyl or Hyde? Huskies ghastly in loss
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