Cal women’s basketball blown out by UConn, rebounds vs. Brown

Maya Valluru/File

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Whenever a team only manages to score 3 points in per quarter, the chances of finding a way to win are slim. On top of that, when you face the greatest women’s collegiate basketball program in history, winning becomes nearly impossible. This was the case for the No. 20 Cal women’s basketball team (2-1), which found itself on the wrong side of an 82-47 rout against No. 1 Connecticut (5-0).

Heading into Friday’s contest against UConn, the Bears knew that getting out to a strong start was a must to have a chance to win. The problem was that UConn, not Cal, came out of the gates on fire. The Huskies were able to get to the rim at will, forced numerous turnovers and completely stymied the Bears’ offense. After the first quarter, Cal trailed 30-11.

The second quarter saw the Bears’ overall play slightly improve. Cal did a much better job closing out on shots, limiting the Huskies to only 15 points. Part of this, however, was due to UConn losing junior Katie Lou Samuelson to a foot injury. This injury seemed to put a damper on the Huskies, as their offensive productivity slowed a bit. At halftime, the Bears trailed 45-24.

In the third quarter, the Bears played by far one of their worst 10 minutes in recent memory. The Bears couldn’t buy a basket to save themselves and ended up only scoring 3 points in the quarter. As for the Huskies, the team regrouped after a slow second, by their standards, and continued the onslaught.

In the fourth quarter, with the game wrapped up, both teams emptied their benches in what became garbage time. The final score was 82-47 — another convincing win by the best team in the land.

All in all, the Bears provided very little resistance all throughout the night and from tipoff never looked like a team that could produce an upset. Luckily for them, they would get a chance to avenge this loss when they faced Brown on Sunday, the alma mater of head coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

Sunday’s matchup against Brown was a high-scoring but evenly contested match from start to finish. Led by junior Kristine Anigwe, who scored 28 points and recorded 25 rebounds, Cal triumphed 89-79 to cap off a split of its road trip.

In the first three quarters, both teams played at a blistering pace and were only separated by 4 points after the first 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter, however, Cal was able to pull away and leave with the victory at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence.

Brown remained in the contest because of its three-point shooting. The team shot 16-41 from downtown, largely thanks to sophomore Shayna Mehta, who connected on nine of 15 long balls. In the end, however, the Bears clamped down on defense and limited Brown to only 11 fourth quarter points.

As for the Bears’ attack, the team relied on a balanced score sheet where five players were in double figures. Freshman guard Kianna Smith stepped up in a big way in only her second career start, shooting four of six from the field for 12 points.

Overall, the Bears have to be pleased with their performance this weekend. With the team that the Huskies have this year, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if UConn runs the entire table and wins another national championship. Plenty of other quality teams will get embarrassed by Connecticut. Cal, however, has to be proud of the resiliency it showed in its second game against Brown. The team came out with positive energy and got the job done when it needed to. Now, the team will regroup and prepare to host the Cal Classic over Thanksgiving weekend.

Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].

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