Déjà vu. Cal beat Washington by three points at home for the second year in a row. But this time around, the Bears did it in overtime, and in the two teams’ first meeting of the season.
Déjà vu. Matt Bradley hit a second-straight clutch isolation three-pointer to seal the Cal victory. But this time around, it wasn’t against Washington State, and it came in overtime of a tie game with just seven seconds left, giving the Bears the win over the Huskies.
The path to this victory was not an easy one, however, as Cal struggled to find the bottom of the net and match up with the much bigger Huskies. The Bears played physical defense, and freshmen Kuany Kuany and D.J. Thorpe saw extended early minutes as Cal head coach Mark Fox sought to match UW’s size. Thorpe tied a career-high in minutes and had a team-high +7 as a result.
“The game’s starting to slow down for D.J. He’s an amazing kid and he just keeps getting better,” Fox said.
Both offenses struggled early, as Cal shot 12-31 in the first half, and Washington just 7-28. The Huskies’ first five buckets were all three-pointers, keeping them in the game early on despite their shooting struggles. Cal would go into halftime with a 28-20 lead, holding Washington to its lowest scoring half of the season.
Cal’s offense continued to struggle throughout the entire game, shooting just 26-65, but luckily it didn’t matter, as the Bears’ defense had a standout game. The blue and gold held the Huskies to 30% shooting and forced them into 13 turnovers.
The Washington trio of Jaden McDaniels, Nahziah Carter and Isaiah Stewart had averaged 46.1 points per game this season going into tonight’s game, but Cal held them to just 34 points with an extra five minutes of play on 10-32 shooting. Carter had a notably rough night, shooting just 2-13 with three turnovers to his name as well.
“Our defense obviously tonight was very good, but the play that hopefully everyone will talk about will be a basket that went in to win it,” Fox said of the team’s defensive performance and Bradley’s game-winner.
The Bears were breaking the Huskies’ zone easily and created a multitude of open shots, even if they weren’t all falling. Grant Anticevich found himself open on the low block or for midrange jumpers quite frequently coming from a crumbling Washington zone defense, and he poured in 13 points on 6-16 shooting against the Huskies. Midway through the second half, Washington switched out of the zone and the Huskies began to make a comeback that forced the game into overtime.
Paris Austin showed up in the beginning of overtime and is the unsung hero of the game. He came into the extra minutes of play time stealing the opening tip, then pulling in an offensive board that he dished out to Kareem South who drilled a corner three. He then scored four straight points for the Bears, giving them a 56-52 lead.
But it all came down to one play. Fox began pumping up the crowd and the crowd delivered. Cal managed to get a stop, and back on the other end Bradley didn’t call bank, he called game. The blue and gold won 61-58.
“We don’t win. We don’t win today without the crowd that was here. We don’t win the game without them,” Fox said.
The crowd showed out and the Bears showed up, bringing in their second-straight victory and finding their way to a 2-1 conference record.
Cal’s next game will see the Bears travel to USC on Thursday, with tipoff at 7:30 p.m.