With 2:11 left in Cal’s game against No. 20 Colorado, the two women’s basketball teams went back and forth, making strings of big plays. Of all these highlights, though, Bears guard Brittany Boyd’s was the biggest.
Off a missed shot by a Buffalo, Boyd went flying to save a ball, her momentum carrying her into the corridors of Haas Pavilion. As the Bears pushed the ball up the floor, Boyd came sprinting out of nowhere to claim a pass and score a layup.
Boyd’s clutch play pushed the Cal lead to 58-54, giving the Bears the momentum they needed to seal the 59-56 victory. On a night on which Cal came out flat, the team was able to engineer a comeback through hustle plays.
The Bears began on defense practically asleep, falling behind 9-5 at the 15:58 mark. A blown defensive assignment left a Colorado forward wide open underneath the basket for the easy score.
After a timeout from Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, the Bears moved to a zone defense, a tactical change that still couldn’t contain the Buffs’ offense. By the 11:46 mark, Cal was down 19-8 and stumbled into a much-needed media timeout.
To make matters worse, the Bears missed shots from all angles. While Colorado was shooting lights out with 62.5 percent field goal percentage, Cal was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum at 23.5 percent.
Guard Layshia Clarendon struggled throughout the first half, shooting 1-for-7. Clarendon would work to get open through pick-and-rolls, but she often opted to pass instead of shoot.
The Bears showed more life in the final minute of the first session, going on an 8-0 run to cut the Buffs’ lead to 32-24 at halftime.
The team recorded 16 offensive rebounds in the first half, but it would need to fix its abysmal 22.9 percent shooting percentage.
Both Cal and Colorado began the second half sloppily, scoring only six combined points in the first four minutes. But Clarendon soon came alive, coming off a pick-and-roll and nailing a jumper to bring Cal within two at 34-32.
Cal took its first lead with 10:37 left in the second half, and the crowd rose to its feet. Seconds after the Bears took their first lead, forward Gennifer Brandon was able to corral an offensive rebound and score to push the lead to four.
It was at that point that Buffaloes finally awoke from their second-half stupor. For four consecutive possessions after the squad fell behind, Colorado responded right back to every Cal score, keeping the game competitive.
After 37 minutes had elapsed, the two squads were separated by only two points at 56-54, with Cal holding the slight advantage. But thanks to Boyd’s heroics, the slim lead was enough to hold off the Buffaloes until the dying seconds.
Cal made one last major defensive stand with 10 seconds remaining, preventing a Colorado 3-pointer to hold on to the 59-56 victory.
Austin Crochetiere covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]