Cal men’s basketball falls to Washington

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What started out as a close, competitive game slowly transformed into a just-out-of-reach win as the Cal men’s basketball team (7-10, 1-3) lost its first away game of the season, falling to Washington (12-4, 2-1) on Thursday. While the Bears extended their losing streak to three, the Huskies celebrated by finally breaking their six-game losing streak to Cal and winning their conference home opener 66-56.

It was an uncharacteristic start for the Bears, who came out quick and aggressive. While the points for both teams were slow to come, the opportunities were plentiful. Freshman Justice Sueing had the first 6 points for Cal, quickly establishing the pace of the game.

The wave of energy didn’t last long, however, as the Huskies successfully kept the Bears outside the arc while Washington ran down the clock. While Cal continued with its full-court press on defense, it found itself in foul trouble early on, with both senior Marcus Lee and freshman Juhwan Harris-Dyson on the bench within the first five minutes with two fouls each. Junior Don Coleman would end the half with three fouls as well.

The Bears found themselves in a scoring drought in the middle of the first half, not making a field goal and allowing Washington 7 points over a seven-minute period. When they finally found their pace again, however, the points came fast; they scored 13 points in the final six minutes to close out the half. Sueing led the team in the first half, scoring 14 of Cal’s 24 first-half points.

The last 20 minutes didn’t provide the outcome the Bears were hoping for. They trailed the Huskies for the entirety of the second half, never pulling ahead. The closest Cal came to taking the lead was at the end of a 10-2 scoring run, which put the Bears within one possession of taking the lead.

The game stayed close, but the Huskies put the game away with three back-to-back 3-pointers as they went up by 16 points. Even as Cal worked to trim the lead, it wasn’t enough and the team ended the game 66-56, its lowest scoring performance of the season.

Lee and Coleman, Cal’s two leading scorers, found themselves on the bench in the first half before either could make a field goal, and their first points didn’t come until four and six minutes into the second half, respectively.

Coleman fouled out with only 4 points, his second 4-point performance in the last three games. Lee managed to end the game with 8 points, well below his season average.

In an interesting turn of events, Washington was successful from outside the arc. As a team that averaged 6.6 3-pointers a game before facing the Bears, the Huskies finished 9 for 19 as junior David Crisp and freshmen Jaylen Nowell and Nahziah Carter each drained two apiece. Nowell continues to lead Washington in scoring as he tallied 20 points for his sixth 20-plus-point game of the season.

Little mistakes plagued the Bears throughout the match. Harris-Dyson struggled to find his groove as he racked up turnovers and missed critical points for the Bears as the end of the game neared. He also was unimpressive on offense, only totaling 6 points in his 30 minutes on the court.

While Washington now sits third in the Pac-12, the Bears maintain their spot near the bottom, just above their next opponent, Washington State. Having just lost its first game on the road this season, it seems as if Cal may be reaching new lows. Without a win in its next game, this downward spiral may not be reaching its end.

Sophie Durham covers men’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected].