That’s a wrap for Cal women’s basketball — at least for the regular season.
In the Pacific Northwest, Cal ended conference play on a high note with a 67-54 win over Washington State and a 83-67 win over Washington.
The Bears finished with a 20-9 overall record and a 11-7 conference record, improving from its 2016-17 records of 20-14 and 6-12, respectively. With the pair of victories over Washington and Washington State, Cal won three straight to end the season, as well as five of its last six.
Among Cal’s in-conference competition, Washington State is ranked third to last and Washington is dead last, but wins are wins, and Cal needed these vote of confidence as is rides into the postseason.
Against the Cougars, Cal junior forward Kristine Anigwe had a monster of a performance, racked up a game-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, good for her ninth double-double of the season.
Cal made magic happen by feeding its big bodies in Anigwe and senior Penina Davidson down low as 48 of its points came in the paint.
Collectively, the Bears put up their best performance from the field in all of Pac-12 play, shooting 57.4 percent from the field — the third time in conference play that they’ve knocked down more than half their shots.
Aside from Anigwe, guards junior Asha Thomas and freshman Kianna Smith each totaled 8 points and six assists. The bench also pulled its weight, as sophomores CJ West and Jaelyn Brown combined for 11 points and six boards.
After their dominant win over the Cougars on Friday in Pullman, the Bears took their juice to Seattle.
The Bears got off to a solid start Sunday afternoon, putting up 20 points in the first quarter and holding the Huskies to a mere 6 points in the first quarter.
After asserting its dominance and building a hefty lead in the first, Cal would never look back and carry that energy into the remaining there quarters for a 83-67 victory. The team put together a stellar offensive campaign, shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 52.6 from beyond the arc.
Smith flirted with her season high in points, falling 1 point shy as she recorded 16 on the afternoon.
Anigwe put together another double-double and racked up 23 points and 12 boards against the Huskies, good for her 10th double-double of the season.
Thomas and senior Mikayla Cowling were the two of four Bears who finished with double-digit performances, the former putting up 11 points and the latter finishing with 12 points along with seven assists.
Just outside of double figures was Davidson, who totaled 9 points and four rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. Cal’s defense held Washington to 40 percent shooting for the field and 31 from the three.
Cal women’s basketball should have a chip on its shoulder heading into March. Before falling out in the final few weeks of the season, the team occupied a place in the top-25 national rankings. As the Bears head into the Pac-12 Tournament, they have a chance to prove that they can hang with the big dogs.
For a team that had a red-hot start followed by a shaky conference play bout, a strong finish was crucial when looking ahead to the postseason. It’s a fact in sports — college basketball in particular — that the playoffs are a different beast.
The regular season is now in the past, and every team has a blank slate once they lace their shoes up and take the court in both the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Championships.
The Bears will look ahead to exemplify the unpredictability and upsets that define March Madness.
Christie Aguilar is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].