BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Jim Hayford isn’t sure yet how to feel about Seattle’s two wins over Pac-12 teams this season.
Even with the Redhawks off to their best start in more than 50 years, their second-year coach is still guarded about his team’s success.
Myles Carter scored a career-high 26 points and had 13 rebounds, and Seattle pulled away late after blowing a 17-point lead to beat California 82-73 on Saturday night.
Morgan Means added 24 points while going 16 of 16 on free throws, including eight over the final 1:36, as the Redhawks won their ninth in 10 games. Delante Jones scored 16 and Terrell Brown had 10 points and six rebounds for the Redhawks.
“At the end of the season we’ll all know that, how good we are and how good who we beat is and all of that,” Hayford said. “But there’s not a lot of mid-major schools that go into Pac-12 gyms and leave with wins so I’ll take it.”
Seattle (12-3) is off to its best start since going 13-2 in 1963-64. Two of the Redhawks three losses came against Stanford in the season opener and against Washington in early December. They also beat Washington State in Seattle.
Carter and Means made certain Seattle would break even in their nonconference games against the Pac-12 by dominating against an undersized and outhustled California team.
Carter specifically got the Redhawks going early when he had eight points during a big run to start the game.
“I just took it on myself to establish myself early and try to be a force in the paint,” Carter said. “They were giving me some shots and once I knew my left hand was coming along, I was like, ‘Oh this is going to be a long night for them.’ I just took advantage of that.”
Seattle led 21-4 in the first half but trailed 51-50 midway through the second following Grant Anticevich’s 3-pointer.
Brown scored on a putback, Means made two free throws and Carter added a short jumper to put the Redhawks back ahead.
The Golden Bears were within 59-55 with 4 minutes left before Carter scored on consecutive trips down the court.
“That shows how much we’ve grown,” Carter said. “Earlier in the season we probably would have folded, if I’m being honest.”
Paris Austin scored 20 points for Cal (5-7). Darius McNeill added 19 and Justice Sueing had 15.
“We came out flat and we weren’t ready to play to start the game,” Golden Bears coach Wyking Jones said. “I could see in shootaround that the energy wasn’t there. We fought back and had some energy in spurts but you can’t dig yourself a 17-point hole and expect to win.”
Seattle: Another step forward for Hayford’s club. The Redhawks got a big win to kick off a four-game road trip in their final tuneup before conference play. Seattle’s offensive slowdown in the second half was due to its own mistakes rather than what Cal did. This is the sixth time Means has scored 20 or more this season.
California: This might be a season-low for the Bears in terms of all-around play. They now have back-to-back losing nonconference records for the first time since doing it three times from 1963-65. Now comes the Pac-12 where things might actually get easier considering how the rest of the conference has played.
Seattle played without Matej Kavas, one of their leading 3-point shooters, who was out after spraining an ankle in practice. While Kavas’ injury isn’t serious, the Redhawks altered the offense and repeatedly attacked Cal inside and held a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points. “They didn’t have an answer for Myles inside,” Hayford said.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
Cal was outrebounded 38-30, had more turnovers (13) than assists (eight) and gave up 14 offensive rebounds.
Seattle: The Redhawks play at Bakersfield in their Western Athletic Conference opener on Thursday night. Seattle was picked to finish third during a preseason poll of WAC coaches.
California: Heads to Los Angeles to face Southern California in the Pac-12 opener for both teams Thursday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25