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Cal men’s basketball drops frustrating 64-55 decision to Washington
Fans of the Bears could have done without one particular Sliding Doors moment.
Truly, this was the game our zeitgeist deserves. With 5:25 remaining in Wednesday’s contest at Washington and Cal trailing by just a point, Kuany Kuany pulled down a defensive rebound and the Bears subsequently brought the ball up the floor. In the most scathing indictment of instant replay I have seen in some time, the officials then decided to review the fact that PJ Fuller had fallen to the ground in the wake of Kuany’s reaching for the ball. No foul was called on the play, but the result of the review was a flagrant foul for elbowing.
Kuany made a fairly textbook rebound which resulted in him grazing Fuller, but upon further review the referees decided to impose their will on the outcome. Fuller made the two awarded free throws. Following that, Terrell Brown Jr. faked out Kuany, who fell to the hardwood while the Washington guard drove to the hoop for two more points. One possession later, a Fuller 3-pointer on the break put the home team ahead by eight. The result was a 64-55 loss that kept Cal men’s hoops winless away from Haas Pavilion with a 9-8 record overall.
The Bears were without the services of point guard Joel Brown and the Huskies took advantage by pulling out to a 19-10 lead. Nevertheless, momentum began to shift in the second ten minutes. Grant Anticevich nailed a triple as the shot clock expired, although he ended up 3-for-9 from the floor with seven points. Jordan Shepherd was next to hit from long range, while Kuany added a corner three of his own after Jalen Celestine’s jumper. Now, the Bears trailed just 22-21 with five minutes remaining in the half. Shepherd would be the only Cal player in double figures for the contest as he racked up 12 points, one rebounds, one assist and a steal.
Five quick points by Sam Alajiki and four more for Celestine would give the visitors a 32-27 lead. The icing on the cake was a beautiful feed by Anticevich as he found Marsalis Roberson for a reverse layup (and his first bucket as a Golden Bear) just before the buzzer sounded indicating the end of the first half. After trailing by nine points early, the Bears hustled to the locker room at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle ahead by seven.
The early second half action began to tip the scales in favor of Washington. Andre Kelly found himself in foul trouble, shooting an uncharacteristic 2-for-7 from the field and finishing with four points, five rebounds and two blocks. Meanwhile, Brown was on his way to 21 points and Daejon Davis collected six steals out of a team total of 14. Despite starting the game, Jarred Hyder would score only two points in 15 minutes of action. Makale Foreman, who has battled through injury, made just one field goal and has averaged less than half of the 7.2 points per game he posted last season. Obinna Anyanwu played five quiet minutes. Nevertheless, the game remained extremely tight and the scoreboard read 52-51 Washington when the pivotal flagrant foul was called belatedly.
Frustration seems to be bubbling up. The Bears are facing superior talent on most nights in conference play, lack a road win, and often struggle to score. They had just registered two straight respectable losses to nationally ranked teams in USC and UCLA, but the time for moral victories feels like it has passed. No wonder an incensed Shepherd had to be restrained by teammates when he was whistled for a pair of fouls with 7:12 and 6:38 remaining. Cal actually shot 50 percent from the field versus 42 percent for UW, but the overall picture was not as rosy.
All right, so there’s more to life than Pac-12 basketball such as true love and the latest Empire of the Sun album. Still, it would be nice to have a little more confidence in the people who are supposed to establish a level playing field. It could also help if the Bears would attempt more than five foul shots in an entire contest compared to 21 tries for the Huskies.