BERKELEY, Calif. — With a renewed effort on the defensive end and the glass, Washington has put a disappointing nonconference schedule in the past.
C.J. Wilcox scored 19 points to reach 1,000 for his career and Washington scored 16 straight points in the first half to roll to a second straight conference road win, beating California 62-47 on Wednesday night in the lowest-scoring home game for the Golden Bears in nearly six years.
“No matter what we do, we have to guard,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “If we guard, good things will happen. That is now becoming an identity. It wasn’t an identity earlier.”
Aziz N’Diaye finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. He dominated on both ends of the court during the big first-half run that put Washington (8-5, 2-0 Pac-12) in control.
The Huskies lost at home to Albany, Colorado State and Nevada early in the year. But things have changed since a players-only meeting after Christmas, with a tough loss at Connecticut and wins at Washington State and Cal (9-6, 1-2) to open conference play.
“We just talked about being aggressive on defense and making aggressive mistakes,” guard Scott Suggs said. “We’ve been talking about that. We’ve made progress. The last two games, it’s starting to show with wins.”
Allen Crabbe, the leading scorer in the conference at 21.4 points per game, was held to nine points on 3 for 12 shooting for Cal against tough defense from Suggs and the Huskies. Crabbe did move up the all-time scoring charts at Cal, moving past Jorge Gutierrez and Ryan Anderson into 19th place on the school scoring list with 1,238 points.
“They did what teams do,” Crabbe said. “It’s nothing new. It’s been happening all year; I just have to make plays. It’s embarrassing to lose like that on your own floor.”
David Kravish led the Bears with 14 points.
Washington is opening conference play with three straight road games for the fourth time in 70 years. The Huskies have a chance to come out of this stretch unbeaten in the Pac-12 if they can win at Stanford on Saturday.
Washington has won its first two conference games for the third straight year and tied the all-time series with Cal at 78 wins apiece. The Huskies were never threatened in the second half, leading by double digits for the final 25 minutes and holding Cal to its fewest points at Haas Pavilion since a 42-41 loss to Arizona State on March 3, 2007.
“Once we got down, we kind of caved a little bit,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “We caved to pressure and let them have their way with us.”
The Bears played short-handed with backup guards Brandon Smith (concussion) and Ricky Kreklow (foot) sidelined with injuries. They also made a lineup switch, with senior Robert Thurman getting his first career start in place of Richard Solomon to get more size in the lineup.
But it proved to be no help against N’Diaye and the Huskies, who dominated the boards despite coming into the game ranked 10th in the conference in rebounding margin. Washington outrebounded Cal 48-33, including grabbing 20 offensive boards.
“The main thing with us on the road is we know we aren’t going to shoot the ball well,” Wilcox said. “We know we have to play aggressive defense and rebound as much as possible.”
Cal kept it close for a bit as the game was tied at 18 midway through the first half before it quickly got out of hand. N’Diaye scored two baskets and set up two other scores with blocked shots during the big spurt that gave Washington a 16-point lead.
His block on Tyrone Wallace’s shot led to a three-point play by Andrew Andrews that made it 27-18. The lead reached 16 points before Bak Bak’s layup ended a run of more than 6 minutes without a basket and more than 4½minutes without points for the Golden Bears.
Even when Cal came up with a defensive stop, it didn’t matter, as Washington dominated the glass. The Huskies got the rebound on 14 of their first 20 misses from the floor, leading to 11 second-chance points in the first half.
“We played with no heart, no passion,” Kravish said. “We talked about offensive rebounds at halftime, after the game, before the game. You have to box out. It’s a team game, and we didn’t play well as a team.”
The Bears couldn’t do anything right in the half. They missed seven of 10 free throws, including front ends of one-and-ones by Crabbe and Justin Cobbs — who each entered the game hitting more than 85 percent of their foul shots.
Crabbe even missed a dunk when Wilcox contested him at the rim.