A trip to DC awaits Cal women’s basketball following tough loss to No. 2 Duke

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After dropping an early game to No. 2 Duke, No. 10 Cal women’s basketball team is looking to bounce back in pair of weekend matchups in Washington, D.C.

The Bears will first face George Washington on Friday for a 4 p.m. (PT) tipoff at the Smith Center and will follow this with a noon (PT) matchup against Georgetown at McDonough Arena. Cal faced both teams in Berkeley last season, defeating the Colonials 70-43 and the Hoyas 72-56.

Cal opened this season with an expected win over Long Beach State, 70-51. The Bears then had a quick turnaround in their second matchup of the season, facing No. 2 Duke. Although the then-No. 9 Bears kept the game in reach, Duke was almost exclusively in control and held the lead through the majority of the tilt. The Blue Devils’ defense gave Cal trouble, holding the Bears to just 32 percent shooting.

“I think we need to take more shots but better shots,” said senior guard Mikayla Lyles. “This past weekend, when we played Duke and Long Beach State, that really got exposed for us — especially our 3-point percentage. We are looking to take it back a little bit and looking more into the post to go in and out and taking the shots that are wide open. We want to get better looks and take care of the ball more.”

On the other side of the country, the Colonials got off to an explosive start in their first game of the season, recording 101 points in their victory over Jackson State. Megan Nipe led George Washington with 20 points, complemented by freshman Hannah Schaible’s 16 points. The Bears will not only have these productive shooters to defend but must also be on their guard against swift starts before each period. The Colonials put the most distance between themselves and their challengers in the opening minutes of each half.

“We expect them to be a fast-paced team, high-pressure team,” Lyles said. “They are going to try to put us on our heels and make the game very fast, but we are totally prepared to do so.”

Freshman Courtney Range should help the Bears control George Washington’s offensive threat. She recorded a team-high 10 rebounds against Duke.

“We need to go in and take care of business and do the little things, like take care of the ball and really show up to play on defense,” Lyles said. “I think this weekend in particular, we can really show up on defense more than we have been.”

After the George Washington matchup, the Bears will take on Georgetown on Sunday. Georgetown is 1-0 after winning its home opener against Richmond. The Hoyas had five players in double figures, with freshman forward Shayla Cooper pacing the team with 17 points.

“We are going to have to look to D-up everybody and not take a play off, because everyone is going to be a threat,” Lyles said.

After split results during opening weekend, the Bears are looking to tally a couple of wins on their first road trip. While those wins are important to Cal, the George Washington and Georgetown matchups also provide the Bears with the chance to solidify their style of play and improve upon last weekend’s play.

“We need to show up and compete, we need to show up and be ourselves, and we need to take one game at a time,” Lyles said. “It all comes with the little things, being ready to play having a positive attitude, taking care of the ball and taking good shots. If we do all of those things, we should come away with two wins.”

Taylor Brink covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected]