Cal women’s basketball cruises past UCLA at Westwood

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The Cal women’s basketball team had one last ranked team to face this regular season. Now it’s just one more ranked victory on their way to ten consecutive wins.

The No. 6 Bears easily handled No. 15 UCLA on Friday night in Pauley Pavilion, 79-51. The win continued Cal’s longest winning streak in the Pac-12 and gave the team a 6-2 record against ranked opponents all season.

The team began the contest on a messy note, notching three turnovers within the first five minutes. The offense, however, picked up where it had left off afterwards in the paint. Cal looked early to dominate with their bigs, threatening the Bruins with their patented two towers of Talia Caldwell and Gennifer Brandon.

The two players helped dominate the boards early, allowing for a 9-4 lead only six minutes into the game. With Cal’s starters shooting over 50 percent from the field, the Bears held strong for another several minutes for a 16-10 lead at the 10:54 mark.

While UCLA busily tried to piece together a comeback, it was still helpless. Atonye Nyingifa, who led the Bruins at halftime with 10 points off a perfect first half shooting, began reducing the deficit with another outside jumper. Reshanda Gray then entered the party and suffocated any Bruin momentum with an impressive three-point play. Only 12 minutes in the game,  Gray notched up eight points and three boards.

The bench provided some reinforcements for Cal. Eliza Pierre drained a shot from long distance to set up a commanding 28-16 lead with 3:53 remaining in the half. Mikayla Lyles also added her own 3-point shot before half, cushioning the Bears’ 39-21 lead entering halftime.

Moving past their sloppy start, the Bears finished the first half with only six total turnovers, far off pace their 17-turnover performance in January against the Bruins. Brittany Boyd, a defensive stalwart at guard, grabbed five steals alone.

Halftime did no favors for the Bruins as both teams kept their offensive paces equal. UCLA traded baskets back and forth with the Bears for five minutes, but never cutting the deficit below 13 points.

Just as UCLA began to heat up, Afure Jemerigbe nailed a 3-pointer, a layup and a free throw to balloon. Though the Bruins would come within 11 once more, the Bears ensured the double digit lead would remain unbreakable for the rest of the night.

With only ten minutes remaining and Cal up 55-44, Boyd continued showing off her all-conference defense with three steals over three consecutive Bruin possessions. She ended the night with Cal’s only double-double with 14 points and 10 steals.

This propelled the Bears to a comfortable 10-2 run and a 72-49 lead entering the final five minutes. With the game well in hand, the Bears allowed only one additional UCLA basket to finish with a dominant victory.