Kristine Anigwe put the team on her back again, scoring 25 points in the second half to lead the No. 24 Cal women’s basketball team to a 65-53 road victory against Colorado on Friday night. The win snaps a three-game losing streak and brings the Bears’ record to 14-3 in the season.
Trailing 34-25 at halftime, Cal’s game plan for the rest of the game quickly became apparent after the first within the first couple of minutes after halftime.
Give Anigwe the ball.
Anigwe scored the first seven points of the second half en route to a 17-0 run by the Bears. Although Colorado would counter shortly after with an 8-0 run to bring the score to 44-43, the Bears pulled away behind a strong defensive effort and Anigwe’s dominant interior scoring. She finished the game with 29 points and 11 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season, and also shot a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line.
Cal and Colorado both have had seasons that bear a striking resemblance to each other. Both teams started undefeated (with the Bears going 13-0 and the Buffaloes going 10-0) with signature wins over a ranked opponent — Cal with its win over then-No. 20 Oklahoma and Colorado with its win over then-No. 15 Kentucky. Yet both teams have struggled since entering conference play, with Cal having lost three straight games before Friday’s game and Colorado now having lost five of its last six overall.
The Buffaloes were ranked as high as 15th in the AP Poll earlier this year, and demonstrated that talent in the first half by giving the Bears all they could handle. Colorado’s duo of sophomore guards Kennedy Leonard and Alexis Robinson gave the Bears some trouble. Leonard ended up with 13 points while Robinson finished with 18. The Buffaloes, conference leaders in steals per game, were aggressive on defense and forced 20 Cal turnovers. Colorado was careful with the ball for most of the game. The third quarter was sloppier with six Buffalo turnovers, but they finished with only nine total.
But this game was a tale of two halves. The six Colorado turnovers in the 3rd quarter were key to sparking the Bears’ 17-0 run. Cal’s defense stepped up in a big way by forcing Colorado to shoot 27.3% from the field overall. Penina Davidson was a big part of the Bears’ strong defensive effort, as she finished the game with eight rebounds and a career high six blocks. Her six blocks are tied for the most by any Cal player in the past 10 years. Mikayla Cowling also had a nice game for the Bears, finishing with nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Bears closed out the game strong and prevented any repeat from their last game, where they gave up a five-point lead with 18 seconds left and lost to Oregon on a buzzer beater.
The Bears continue on their road trip to play Utah on Sunday and will look to put together a more complete game to help Anigwe shoulder the load their next time out.
Jeffrey Liu covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]