LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12 suspended senior guard Cole Bajema from Saturday’s USC game for striking UCLA’s Adem Bona in the groin area on Thursday.

The incident occurred with 1:34 remaining in the first half and Bajema appeared to immediately indicate as if it was an inadvertent blow. Game officials reviewed the play and called a foul on Bajema.  

However, the NCAA rule book (4-15.2.c.2.d) states “any contact by the offending player to the groin area of an opponent which is not clearly accidental” is a Flagrant 2 personal foul, which carries a penalty of “two free-throws, possession of the ball for a throw-in, and ejection of the offending player.” 

UW athletic director Jen Cohen and coach Mike Hopkins released a joint statement Saturday that took umbrage with the Pac-12 suspension. 

“We were surprised and are extremely disappointed with the decision to suspend Cole Bajema for our game Saturday at USC,” the statement read. “Cole has demonstrated character and sportsmanship during his three years competing in the Pac-12. We stand in support of Cole and look forward to him returning to the court next week.” 

Bajema is one of two Huskies to appear in every game this season. He’s averaging 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds and leads the league with at 88.1% on free throws. 

“The Conference is responsible for emphasizing and enforcing standards of conduct and sportsmanship to protect student-athlete health and safety, as well as the equity and integrity of competition,” Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said in a statement. “It is our duty to ensure competition does not cross beyond the line of aggressive play to excessive behavior.”