BERKELEY, Calif. — California coach Cuonzo Martin had a talk with guard Jordan Mathews after the Golden Bears’ embarrassing loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday, and apparently he chose the right words.
Mathews scored a season-high 31 points, including 21 in the second half, to lead Cal to an 81-75 victory over No. 21 Washington on Friday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
“Jordan is one of those players who’s consumed with his shot,” Martin said. “Not that he’s selfish, but when he misses some, you can see it in his body language. He just has to stay engaged and not put his head down.
“Tonight he shot the ball and shot it with confidence.”
After going 2-for-6 for nine points in the 55-52 loss to Bakersfield, which had a 2-10 record at the time, Mathews was 8-for-14, including 5-for-8 on three-pointers, against Washington.
“You never want to lose,” Mathews said of the Bakersfield game, “(but) looking at that tape really helped us.”
Cal (11-3) ended a two-game losing streak while handing Washington (11-2) its second straight loss despite a subpar offensive games by standout point guard Tyrone Wallace.
Wallace, who entered the game as the Pac-12’s No. 2 scorer at 19.2 points a game, scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, when the Bears made their move. However, he missed his first eight shots and was just 4 of 20 from the field for the game. He scored 10 of his points from the free-throw line in the final three minutes when the Huskies were fouling to extend the game.
Forward David Kravish had a double-double for Cal with a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bears committed just four turnovers for the game and shot 60.9 percent in the second half after shooting just 31.6 percent in the first.
“In the second half, we broke down. We broke down a lot,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You allow a team to shoot 60 percent in the second half on the road, you’ll have a tough time.”
The Huskies controlled the first half and held a seven-point lead early in the second.
Romar dismissed the notion that his team’s surprising loss to Stony Brook in Seattle on Sunday had an effect on his team’s performance Friday.
“No, no there was no carry-over,” he said. “If there had been a carry-over we would have been down 15-16 at half.”
Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, and center Robert Upshaw had 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
Upshaw had four of his blocks in the first half, when Washington dominated play.
The Huskies held a seven-point lead when guard Andrew Andrews hit jumper 16 seconds into the second half. But Washington failed to make a field goal for nearly six minutes, and Cal took the lead when Mathews made a pair of free throws with 15:30 left to give the Bears a 37-36 advantage.
Cal increased its lead to eight points when freshman center Kingsley Okoroh scored from close range with 12 minutes left. Mathews led the surge by scoring nine points in a span of 3:16.
“Mathews hit some tough shots,” Romar said, “and they scored a third of their points on offensive rebounds and off our turnovers.”
Washington closed the gap to two points when Williams-Goss hit a pair of free throws with 4:40 remaining, but that was as close as the Huskies would get. A 3-pointer by Mathews quickly restored the Bears’ five-point lead and they held off Washington from there.
NOTES: The 31 points scored by G Jordan Mathews was the first time a Cal player scored 30 points or more in a game since Mathews scored a career-high 32 points against Oregon in January 2014. …Cal G Jabari Bird missed his eighth straight game with a stress fracture in his foot. He is expected to be sidelined for two more weeks. … Washington sophomore Jahmel Taylor was granted his release so he can transfer. He played in just two games this season, totaling seven minutes of playing time. … Huskies C Robert Upshaw leads the nation in blocked shots, averaging 4.6 blocks per game coming into Friday’s contest. … Cal has beaten
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