BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — After a disappointing loss at Stanford two days earlier, Washington was looking for some energy against California on Saturday.
The Huskies got it from freshman Naz Carter, whose spectacular tomahawk dunk sparked a decisive 16-2 run in the second half and inspired his teammates in a 68-51 Pac-12 Conference victory over the last-place Bears.
“I was, ‘No . . . reverse it, reverse it,’ ” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “Then bam! Great play. Those types of plays are energy plays. It was not normal, but he is not normal. I saw him put his head on the rim the other day.”
Teammate Jaylen Nowell, who led the Huskies (19-10, 9-7) with 23 points, watches his 6-foot-6 teammate every day in practice. But even he could hardly digest what he saw when Carter took off eight feet from the basket and soared over Cal defender Cole Welle.
“I’ve got no words for that,” Nowell said. “I don’t know how he got up there.”
Cal (8-21, 2-14) led 43-39 when two free throws by Noah Dickerson triggered the decisive six-minute run. Dickerson had eight points in the burst, including a spinning drive through the lane that made it 55-45 with 10:20 left.
Carter’s dunk came early in the rally, during which the Huskies ratcheted up their defense. Cal made just two of its final 18 shots of the game and was 0 for 8 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Cal coach Wyking Jones said that once big men Kingsley Okoroh and Marcus Lee each picked up his fourth foul, the Huskies were able to focus their defense on the Bears’ perimeter players. Darius McNeill, who scored 17 first-half points, was scoreless in the second half.
“I felt like foul trouble completely took away our flow,” Jones said. “I had some lineups out there I never thought I’d have to play.”
Dickerson contributed 16 points and nine rebounds for Washington. Cal’s only other double-figure scorer was Justice Sueing, with 12 points.
1,000 FOR CRISP: Washington junior David Crisp scored only six points, but finished the day with 1,003 for his career, making him the 40th Husky to reach the milestone.
SENIOR EMOTIONS: Cal senior forward Marcus Lee fouled out in his final home game, and said the pre-game ceremony was emotionally tough. “I tried to be strong, you see the tears flowing,” he said. “As the game went on you realize senior night is not for the seniors. It’s for passing the baton on to the freshmen.”
Washington: When the Huskies beat Arizona 78-75 on Feb. 3, they were riding a four-game win streak and were an NCAA Tournament contender at 17-6. Even after beating Cal, they have won just twice in their past six games and still have work to do to move back into the NCAA conversation. “I think we’ve got a great resume,” Hopkins said. “All we can do is what we can take care of.”
Cal: The Bears tied their all-time program record with their 21st defeat. Cal has played basketball for 111 seasons, and the only previous team that reached this loss total was the 1978-79 squad (6-21). The Bears also inched closer to finishing alone in last place in the conference for the first time since 1979-80 (3-15).
Washington plays Oregon State at home on Thursday.
Cal is at Arizona State on Thursday.