No. 19 Cal women’s basketball squeaks by No. 17 Colorado, 57-55

Kelly Fang/Senior Staff

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The Bears bounced back from behind to beat the Buffs on their own home court.

The No. 19 Cal women’s basketball team (11-3, 3-0 Pac-12) took down No. 17 Colorado (11-3, 1-2) on Friday at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo. The 57-55 victory did not fall easily into Cal’s claws, as the squad had to battle back from multiple double-digit deficits to clinch the win.

The game mirrored the last several meetings between the two teams, whose matchups have become synonymous with nail-biting narrow escapes. Last January, Cal rallied from 16 points behind to defeat the Buffs by a narrow three-point margin, 59-56. Earlier that month, Cal won by a mere four points, 53-49, in yet another down-to-the-wire game.

Friday, the Bears again had their backs against the wall under heavy pressure from the Colorado offense. The Buffs claimed the early advantage and ended the first half with a 10-point lead over the Bears. Cal inched closer in the second half, forcing nine Colorado turnovers in the final 20 minutes of the game. The Bears’ full-court pressure flustered the Buffs and yielded 16 points off turnovers. Cal’s aggressive defense held Colorado to 37.5 percent from the field. The Bears cut the margin to two multiple times in the second half before again falling behind by 10 with minutes left on the clock.

Colorado failed to score a field goal in the final four minutes of the game, aiding the Bears’ quest for a come-from-behind upset. Senior forward Gennifer Brandon hit a three with 3:33 left to cut the lead to five. A fast break bucket by junior Reshanda Grey pulled the Bears to within three. Junior guard Brittany Boyd hit a jumper with 2:07 left to put the Bears only one point behind the sluggish Buffs, 53-52.

Cal’s heavy pressure caused a turnover, and Colorado fouled Courtney Range. The freshman hit both free throws to give the Bears their first lead of the half with less than two minutes remaining. Colorado’s Arielle Roberson hit two free throws on the other end of the court to bring the score to 55-54 in favor of the Buffs with seven ticks left on the clock. Cal senior Afure Jemerigbe hit a layup, and Range stole the Buffs’ inbound pass to secure the victory for the Bears.

The win extended Cal’s Pac-12 regular season winning streak to 18. Grey led the Bears with 15 points, while Boyd notched 13 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. Range fueled the Bears’ post-play, grabbing nine rebounds.

The Bears hit the court again on Sunday, facing Utah at noon in Salt Lake City.

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