The road to the NCAA tournament for the Washington Huskies might be more difficult to traverse than the roads in the Puget Sound area right now after last night’s spin out in a 69-66 loss to the Cal Bears.
Obviously, there’s a lot of games left in the season. But the Huskies only plays Cal once and it was on their home floor. It seemed like a perfect scenario to take a step forward in the league standings. Instead, Washington had yet another sluggish start and fell behind early. And all of the Huskies comeback attempts came up short, much like Darnell Gant’s game-tying 3-point attempt with time winding down.
Instead, the Bears let Abdul Gaddy take the inbounds pass, dribble hard to the top of the key and drop it off to the trailing Gant, who had a wide-open look.
“I knew I was going to be open,” Gant said. “I took the shot with confidence. It came up short.”
It was a good play in theory and execution. Gant, however, was 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-5 from the 3-point range before the shot. And like the rest of his shots all night, it didn’t go down.
So why have him shoot it in that situation?
“The last game we had he hit three 3s. He’s shooting over 40 percent going into this game from the 3-point line,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Just because someone is having an off night, if you look at the body of work that they’ve put forth, you take your chance with them. He’s shooting a pretty good percentage.”
So did Romar think it was in when it left Gant’s hand?
“I didn’t know,” he said. “I thought it definitely had a chance. When his feet are set and nobody is guarding him, I feel pretty confident they are going in.”
The fact that Gant took the last shot surprised Cal. The Bears were expecting Terrence Ross, who had buried three second half 3-pointers, to take the last shot.
“We thought it was going to be for him,” said Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez, who was guarding Ross. “We were surprised.”
The Bears knew Gant was struggling.
“Gant hadn’t hit one yet,” said Cal’s Harper Kamp, who was supposed to guard Gant. “But he can make that shot. They made a good play and got a clean look. We just got lucky it didn’t go in.”
And the Bears weren’t going to let Ross get that shot.
“We had Jorge on Ross and he wasn’t going let Ross catch it and shoot,” Montgomery said.
Here is Tim Booth’s game story for the AP.
Here is Scott Johnson’s gamer for the Herald.
The Bay Area newspapers used some local guys to cover the game last night.
Todd Dybas wrote this story for the SF Chronicle.
Mason Kelley filed this story for the Bay Area News Group.
Nothing really stunning from the Four Factors. The free throw percentage was obvious with Cal going 18-of-21 from the free throw line. Justin Cobbs was the only person to miss a free throw all night. I’m not sure what it says about Cal or Washington that the Bears can commit 17 turnovers – many of them unforced according to Mike Montgomery – and win the game still. Cal’s eFG% advantage largely stems from Washington’s sluggish first half. The Huskies jacked up 21 3-pointers and made just five.
How about some numbers …
Washington had 26 made field goals and only seven assists. That’s almost as bad as the loss to Colorado when they had 27 field goals and only had seven assists. Obviously there wasn’t a lot of ball movement. And Aziz N’Diaye scoring on several putbacks lessened that number. Conversely, cal had 15 assists on 24 field goals. Ideally, a team would like an assist percentage of 55 percent.
Terrence Ross scored 15 points, attempted 15 shots, and didn’t attempt one free throw. Not one. Sure it had something to do with sagging man-t0-man that Cal was playing on everyone else. But still that means, he was settling for jumpers a little.
Tony Wroten was 5-5 from the FT line. Were they all pretty? No, but UW will take that any day.