No. 23 Cal women’s basketball splits home opener, conquering USC, falling flat against UCLA

Stephanie Li/File

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On the first day of the new year, Cal women’s basketball (10-3) saw its national ranking drop from No. 20 to No. 23. After a weekend that started on a high note with a win over USC (10-3), the Bears fell flat and ended 2017 with a bitter loss to then-No. 11 UCLA (10-3) 82-46, proving for the third time this season that a ranked opponent was too much to handle.

In the loss to the Bruins, the Bears snapped their seven-game win streak and recorded the fewest points in a game all season.

A Friday win against USC gave Cal women’s basketball the vote of confidence it needed to take on No. 11 UCLA two days later at Haas Pavilion. Against the Trojans, four players recorded double digits.

Junior forward Kristine Anigwe, who has been dominant all season for the Bears, put on a show on both days, but her play was simply not enough to uplift the Bears to 2-0 in Pac-12 play. Anigwe recorded back-to-back double digits, leading her team in scoring during both contests with 16 points and 15 points against the Trojans and Bruins, respectively.

Against the Trojans, senior Penina Davidson was the second leading scorer with 15 points and 7 boards. Sophomore Jaelyn Brown put up 10 points, recording double digits for the first time since Dec. 2 against Santa Clara. As a team, Cal shot a respectable 45.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Once top-ranked UCLA took the court, however, the Bears’ roar went silent. Cal shot a mere 28.6 percent from the field and an ugly 8.3 percent from the three. Junior guard Asha Thomas was the only player to hit from deep, but she still shot 1 of 8 from three on the day. For the second time this season, the Bears made only one successful trey in a game.

Turnovers were another dagger in the Bears’ performance against the Bruins. Cal gave the rock away 24 times and UCLA capitalized to put up 21 points off of turnovers. Brown and senior Mikayla Cowling gave up the ball five times apiece and sophomore CJ West and Anigwe both gave up three of their own.

Cal will get an immediate shot at redemption against a ranked opponent when taking on No. 25 Arizona State on Friday.

Christie Aguilar is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].