Cal women’s basketball hangs on for win in double overtime against UCLA, 108-104

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With 6.4 seconds left on the clock and a three-point lead in double overtime, the exhausted Bears smothered the Bruins’ guards as UCLA tried to inbound the ball. The inbound pass went to starting forward 6-foot-3-inch Kacy Swain, who hoisted up a three-pointer with a hand in her face. Swain’s shot attempt failed to even graze the rim and was collected by UC Berkeley freshman MaAne Mosley, who would get fouled and hit a free throw on the other end to secure the victory.

After the fourth quarter and first overtime both ended in wild finishes that saw UCLA tie up the game, the No. 21 Bears (8-2) staved off the No. 19 Bruins (7-3) and emerged victorious in a double-overtime thriller, 108-104. For Cal, the game marked its second consecutive overtime victory, giving the young roster much needed late-game experience in the early part of the season. The victory over UCLA, despite being designated as a nonconference game, also marked the Bears’ first game of the season against a Pac-12 opponent.

Early in the game, Cal appeared to be headed for an easy victory. The Bears got off to a strong start, primarily because of dominant play by their leading scorer, freshman Kristine Anigwe. Despite all the double-teams that the Bruins sent her way, Anigwe had a stellar first half, recording 15 points on 6/7 shooting from the field and 3/3 from the charity stripe.

Entering the third quarter, Cal held a double-digit lead, edging out UCLA 42-29. The game’s narrative took a turn in the third quarter, when the Bruins staged a tenacious comeback, chipping away at the lead and outscoring the Bears, 27-16, in the third quarter to tighten the gap to just two points. The two teams went back and forth, trading baskets until the end of the fourth quarter, when a three-pointer by UCLA guard Jordin Canada, the team’s leading scorer, at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.

UCLA’s offensive outburst in the second half was the result of sharp play from Canada, who managed to bounce back from a two-point first half. Canada found her rhythm in the latter portion of the game, using her quickness to beat Cal’s defense and slice into the lane for close range baskets.

Canada’s ability to penetrate the lane and draw defensive attention also allowed UCLA — one of the top rebounding teams in the nation — to collect more offensive rebounds. With a 28-13 offensive rebounding edge, the Bruins were able to generate more possessions and more shot opportunities. While UCLA only shot 40 percent from the field compared to Cal’s 53-percent mark, it had 29 more field goal attempts. Because of her propensity to drive to the hoop, Canada also found herself at the free-throw line a number of times, ultimately jeopardizing the Bears’ chances by drawing Cal’s players into foul trouble.

In the closely contested overtime period, the Bears received notable contributions from junior forward Courtney Range and freshman guard Asha Thomas. Thomas hit a critical three-pointer with 10 seconds to go, bailing her team out as the shot clock expired to give Cal a two-point lead. The Bears, however, failed to get back on defense after Thomas’ improbable shot and the Bruins seized the opportunity to run out in transition for an easy basket. UCLA tied up the game with 3.7 seconds left and the game extended into double overtime.

Fatigued and missing Anigwe and forward Penina Davidson, who fouled out in overtime, the Bears were resilient in double overtime. With timely baskets from Thomas and Range and an even more crucial stop on UCLA’s Swain, the Bears found themselves on top as the final buzzer sounded, 108-104.

Kapil Kashyap covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]