BERKELEY, Calif. – Isaiah Thomas told his team there would not be another second-half letdown.
Washington spent more than two days in the Bay Area waiting to play again, eager to hit the court after a deflating last-minute defeat at Stanford.
The Huskies went to a couple of movies and had team meals. They attended study sessions and practiced.
“We were just ready to take it out on somebody else,” Thomas said.
He did that, all right.
Thomas scored 18 of his season-high 27 points in the first half and No. 17 Washington bounced back from the Stanford loss to beat California 92-71 on Sunday night and salvage a split on its tough Bay Area trip.
Thomas also dished out a career-high 13 assists, including two in a row on 3-pointers by Justin Holiday to start the second half as Washington quickly pulled away. Holiday scored 23 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 22 and 11 rebounds for the Huskies (13-4, 5-1 Pac-10), who shot much better than their cold performance against the Cardinal three days earlier.
“That was probably the best performance I’ve seen him have as a Husky,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said of Thomas. “He was just like a band conductor, orchestrating that game for all of the 35 minutes he was in there.”
Harper Kamp scored 20 points and freshman Allen Crabbe followed up his season-best 30-point, 10-for-15 performance against Washington State with 16 points for the Golden Bears (9-8, 2-3). Cal couldn’t keep the momentum from its thrilling 88-81 overtime victory against the Cougars on Thursday.
Washington shot 52.3 percent, going 13 for 29 from long range, to pull off a rare win at Haas Pavilion. UW had won just twice in their previous 10 visits to Cal’s home floor, the last time an 87-84 victory on March 1, 2008.
This nationally televised game was a rematch of last season’s Pac-10 tournament final won 79-75 by Washington.
Holiday shot 9 for 14 with five 3-pointers. Bryan-Amaning went 10 for 15 from the floor and Thomas was 8 of 16 and made all eight of his free-throw tries.
Thomas has 103 assists already this season after getting 202 in his previous two years. He broke into UW’s top 10 on the career assists list with Sunday’s outing. Thomas has seven or more assists in his last five games.
“Fact of the matter, Isaiah Thomas pretty much had his way,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Washington was very good. They made shots, they played extremely hard. I didn’t think we were at our best. That’s a bad combination for us. I think they got woken up on Thursday, kind of got caught off guard. They came here full of it.”