Things went from bad to worse for the No. 25 Cal women’s basketball team Friday evening as its weekend trip to the state of No. 6 Oregon began with a frustrating 91-54 loss at the hands of the Pac-12’s top-ranked team.
The Ducks (21-3, 10-1) proved once again that they are a legitimate threat to challenge for the NCAA title, putting together a textbook performance of dominance against the Bears (15-7, 6-5) from start to finish. Oregon turned the ball over just six times in the entire contest, playing crisp basketball and all but eliminating Cal’s chances of a potential upset by halftime.
Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu — a Bay Area native who is leaps and bounds in the lead for Pac-12 Player of the Year — shined once against for the Ducks, recording a team-high 28 points and 11 assists. A threat to stuff the stat sheet on any given night, Ionescu’s fingerprints were all over this one as she put up her 11th game of the season with at least 20 points.
But Ionescu wasn’t the only Duck heavily involved in Oregon’s offensive masterpiece. Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard also recorded a double-double by pitching in 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Hebard and fellow frontcourt sophomore Mallory McGwire thoroughly overpowered Cal’s duo of junior forward Kristine Anigwe and senior forward Penina Davidson, holding the Bears’ starting forwards to just 8 combined points on 3 of 15 shooting.
After struggling mightily in its recent home loss to then-No. 25 Arizona State, Cal’s backcourt took a step in the right direction against Oregon, albeit a small one.
Junior Asha Thomas made 2 of just 3 shot attempts on the night, combining with senior Mikayla Cowling and freshman Kianna Smith for a 7 of 20 outing from the field. While the numbers aren’t pretty by any means, it’s certainly a level up from the trio’s collective 4 of 27 showing against the Sun Devils.
If there’s a silver lining to be taken away from the blowout loss, it was the bench production that the Bears received from two of their future centerpieces.
Sophomore guard Jaelyn Brown found her stroke by nailing three of her 3-point attempts, leading the team with 14 points. Freshman Alaysia Styles made the most out of her 20 minutes of action, posting a career-high 12 points and staying active on the offensive glass.
For younger players seeking an expanded role off the bench, a few extra minutes in blowouts can be a critical boost from game to game. Brown and Styles figure to continue being among the first reserves on any given night, and their ability to fill in for starters early in games will undoubtedly be vital to the Bears’ success in the coming weeks.
While not a lot went right for Cal on Friday evening, this is just the second time that the team has lost back-to-back games this season. Still looking for that elusive win against a ranked team, the Bears will put this one behind them and strive to keep up with No. 16 Oregon State (16-6, 7-4) on Sunday.
Josh Yuen is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at