Huskies snap skid, blow out Cal, 109-77
Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points and Washington made a school record-tying 17 three-pointers in a rout that snapped the Huskies' three-game losing streak.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Stanford @ UW, 5:30 p.m., FSN
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Lifted by a boisterous Edmundson Pavilion crowd, the Huskies halted their three-game men's basketball losing streak with a convincing 109-77 blowout of California on Thursday night.
The Huskies were impressive in every way.
After four minutes, they built a four-point lead. After seven minutes, they were up by 10. With 8:18 remaining in the first half, Washington led by 20 and the rout was on.
"You can use the crowd as energy," senior UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. "They'll help you. If you're not motivated, they can give you that extra oomph to get over the top. That's how it's been so far."
The Huskies led by as many as 27 in the first half. They carried a 58-34 lead into halftime and in the second half coasted to their 13th straight double-digit win at home.
This was total domination on both ends of the court for Washington, which set a school record for points against a Pac-10 opponent while improving to 16-7 overall and 8-4 in the conference.
Washington had season highs in assists (30) and blocked shots (11) and committed just nine turnovers. Six players scored in double figures for the Huskies, whose largest lead was 38 points midway in the second half.
"This is what can happen when you come out and are intense defensively," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "It's interesting the focus and the alertness that it takes to play defense like that somehow transfers over to the offensive end."
He blamed defensive breakdowns for Washington's recent skid. This week, the Huskies went back to basics.
Romar repeatedly stopped practice and explained their mistakes. He sat down with the players during video sessions and stressed the only way they were going to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2008 was if they rededicated themselves defensively.
"The main focus was to come out and play hard, no matter who was scoring, who was getting the assists, we just wanted to come out and play hard, and we did that," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "It all started on the defensive end. ...
"This week in practice, coach said, 'We're going to play defense and whoever doesn't is going to sit next to me.' You know guys don't want to sit, so they played some defense today."
Washington's good defense led to great offense and Thomas was at the center of it all.
The junior co-captain directed an offense that buried the Golden Bears with a school record-tying 17 three-pointers.
He finished with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a career-high six treys in eight attempts. Thomnas also had nine assists.
It was his most impressive game since tallying 27 points and 13 assists in a 92-71 win against Cal last month in Berkeley.
"I think when we play so hard on defense it makes everything that much easier," Thomas said. "We didn't think we were playing bad defense over those three games, but coach showed us film and showed us every bad play and it was embarrassing.
"We wanted to change that, we came out and it started with me. He told me to pick up full court and we did that. Everyone bought in and we played well."
The good times returned to Hec Ed and 9,833 cheered the Huskies to their first win in three weeks.
Cal still appeared weary after last Saturday's triple-overtime defeat to Arizona.
The Bears normally play a seven-man rotation and their depth took a big hit when freshman standout Allen Crabbe went down after taking a knee to the head with 9:39 remaining in the first half.
Without their third-leading scorer, Cal relied heavily on junior Jorge Gutierrez, who scored a game-high 24 points. The Bears fell to 13-11, 6-6.
"They were really ready to play and we were not near ready for the level of intensity that they brought to the game," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "They were obviously stunned coming off of three losses and they did a great job."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
Attendance: 9,883. Officials: Michael Reed, Larry Spaulding, Rick Batsell.
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