In just one trip to the Northwest, the Cal women’s basketball team showed it can win games scoring from inside the paint or beyond the arc.
On Thursday, the squad faced an Oregon team led by former NBA coach Paul Westhead and won using a barrage of 3-pointers to take down the Ducks, 83-71.
Two days later, the Bears entered Corvallis, Ore., and went back to their standby of pounding the ball in the low post. They took only eight 3-pointers, hitting on five, and got to the free throw line 33 times, starting off the game 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. The result: a 75-68 victory over Oregon State at Gill Coliseum.
The early success from the line was an anomaly, as the Bears went into the game with the worst free throw shooting percentage in the Pac-12. Even more surprisingly, Cal (20-7, 11-4 in the Pac-12) went on to convert on 24 of those 33 free throw attempts, its highest number of makes and attempts in a single game this season. The Beavers, who had the second-worst free throw percentage, shot only 8-of-21 from the line.
Despite the discrepancy in numbers, the first half was a tightly contested ball game that had Oregon State (17-9, 8-7) ahead at the end. The Beavers made 14-of-26 field goals in the first half and took the lead, 33-32.
“Oregon State came out, and they were fired up,” head coach Linsay Gottlieb said. “They had a great first half.”
There were five ties and three lead changes in the first half, as Cal stayed in the game due largely to its press. The team forced 12 turnovers and trailed by only one point despite shooting just 38.7 percent from the field in the period, before taking over in the second half.
With the win, the Bears took a two-game lead over Arizona State for second place in the Pac-12, while Oregon State fell out of third place.
This game, along with Thursday’s, proved that the Bears can win games using both their interior game or by making jump shots. They made half the number of 3-pointers in Saturday’s game and hit nine more free throws. Guard Layshia Clarendon combined for 49 points over the two tilts to lead the Bears’ attack.
Cal used its inside game to set up outside shooters such as Afure Jemerigbe, who was 4-of-6 from the field en route to 12 points.
“We had to be aggressive and then play inside-out,” Gottlieb said. “It was really fun to see Foo step up and knock down shots and us be able to get some separation.”
With a little over 10 minutes left in the game, the Bears carried a 15-point lead. However, Oregon State quickly cut its deficit to four with 22.8 seconds remaining. After that it become a free throw game, and the Bears uncharacteristically hit their freebies.
“Our poise down the stretch was big,” Gottlieb said. “I am very happy for our players.”