Cal women’s basketball hosts Bay Area rival No. 10 Stanford

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The Cal women’s basketball team has played 14 conference games this season. It has won five of them.

No. 10 Stanford has played 14 conference games as well. It has won 12 of them.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to determine which team is favored to win this Bay Area encounter Thursday. Going by the records, Cal has a very slim chance against its fiercest rival.

The Bears are currently on a two-game losing streak, in which they’ve dropped games to Utah and Colorado. Those were games that Cal should have won.

The overarching weakness that led to Cal dropping both matches was inefficiency on the offensive end. Cal shot 36.7 percent from the field against Utah and a marginally better 41.1 percent against Colorado. Combine that with the plethora of turnovers that it committed a regular feature of the season and you get the perfect recipe for a self-inflicted loss.

Cal’s inability to beat teams that are not necessarily better than it, purely because it underperforms, has become the theme of this season. The Utah and Colorado losses were more self-inflicted than anything else, and this will not bode well for the team’s hopes against Stanford. Forward Kristine Anigwe, who leads Cal in scoring with 21.8 points per game, scored 22 against Utah, but was held to 15 points against Colorado. While Anigwe has it in her to produce offensively, it is the tendency of the team to switch off at crucial moments that has led to Cal’s drop. In the match against Colorado, the Buffs’ man-to-man defense made it difficult for Cal to dominate in the paint but allowed for open looks from three-point range. The result, three of 14 from beyond the arc, with only guards Asha Thomas and Mikayla Cowling scoring.

Stanford, on the other hand, has been on a remarkable run. The Cardinal has won nine out of its past 10 matches, with the only loss coming to No. 18 UCLA. Stanford’s last game was against Utah at home, and the home side made a statement. The Cardinal demolished the Utes, 87-51, making it clear that they it does not take games lightly. Apart from the games against UCLA and Washington, Stanford has handed blowout losses in all of its past 10 matches.

Forward Erica McCall leads the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game, as well as in blocks with 39 rejections so far. Stanford’s strength, however, lies in the overall team game. The tendency to share the ball and not rely totally on one player for offense is better off in the long run, and the Cardinal’s record currently shows that. Stanford has put better numbers in the three-point shooting and rebounding than Cal, and this will be one of the key factors in determining a winner Thursday night.

Cal’s inconsistency has long been its kryptonite this season. For a team that started out so well, to be languishing in seventh place in the Pac-12 table is not satisfactory at all. The only hope for Cal fans in the match against Stanford will be the fact that the team was able to defeat a more fancied UCLA side at home this season. Whether that will happen against the Cardinal remains to be seen, though to keep too much hope will be a fool’s errand.

Devang Prasad covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DevangPrasad.

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