After two missed free throws by sophomore guard Gabby Green, Cal women’s basketball leads by only three. With only 14 seconds left, UCLA still has a chance.
And the Bruins know what to do.
Get the ball to Kari Korver. She takes Jordin Canada’s handoff at the wing and drains a three as she falls down. A foul is called on the Bears’ forward Courtney Range, but Korver misses her free throw. Cal comes back and misses on the other end.
The Bears, who needed a win Saturday to keep their season alive and advance to the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament, couldn’t come through in the extra period. They saw their magical run come to an end, falling, 73-67, to the No. 12 Bruins (24-7, 14-4).
Despite playing its third match in three days, Cal (15-17) didn’t show signs of fatigue in the early goings of Saturday’s game. Instead, the Bears seemed intent on pushing the ball and playing aggressive defense, and they turned the Bruins over on their first two possessions.
As has been a theme throughout the tournament, Cal found freshman forward Kristine Anigwe for an easy look under the basket by lobbing the ball over the defense after UCLA’s second turnover. The Bears’ first two baskets came on plays similar to this, with passes courtesy of sophomore forward Mikayla Cowling and freshman guard Asha Thomas. Cal jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead when Cowling tacked on a jumper, and UCLA head coach Cori Close called a timeout just more than two minutes into the game.
Though the Bruins got the next two points, the Bears took control of the game, taking advantage of the Bruins’ early propensity to throw lazy passes. Cal went on a 15-3 run and ended the quarter up, 22-13, despite eight points by Canada.
Cal junior Courtney Range scored the first bucket of the second frame, but the Bruins began to claw their way back into the game. With just more than seven minutes left in the second period, Canada picked Thomas’ pocket and took it the other way for a layup. UCLA followed this up with another steal, leading to a three by freshman Kennedy Burke. Just like that, the Bruins were down by only six.
Although the teams traded blows for the rest of the half, the damage appeared to be done. UCLA was back in the game and down only seven heading into the break, 32-25. The Bears went into the locker room surely hoping to continue their domination of the paint, where they scored 18 points in the first half.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Anigwe took control. She scored with seven minutes and 15 seconds left in the period, and then scored five more points in the next 90 seconds to put Cal up by eight points. On the next Bruins possession, however, Anigwe picked up her third foul and head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was forced to take her out of the game. UCLA proceeded to score the next four points and with the game seemingly in the balance, Gottlieb put her young star, who already had 20 points, back in the game.
During Anigwe’s first possession back in the game, the attention she drew on offense helped set Cowling up for an open three. But on defense, Anigwe, who had fouled out in the first two games of the Pac-12 Tournament, picked up yet another foul. With two minutes and 30 seconds left in the third quarter and her team up only seven, Anigwe was taken out of the game.
Canada and forward Monique Billings, who combined for 48 points, led the Bruins on a 10-0 run to rush past a Cal team whose offense looked completely listless without its go-to scorer. Range, who ended the game with 17 points and nine rebounds, scored to slow down the Bears’ fall long enough for Anigwe’s return to the game.
Anigwe reentered the game with six minutes and two seconds left and Cal down, 52-51. Anigwe and Range, who was dominant in the second half and overtime with 13 points, attacked the paint and traded buckets with the Bruins. With Cal still down a point, Green found Anigwe, who had an astounding 26 points and 15 boards, right under the hoop where she scored with 53 seconds left. Thomas followed that up with a couple of free throws but Green’s misses gave UCLA the chance to tie.
The Bruins managed to thoroughly outplay the deflated, exhausted Bears in overtime and with the win, essentially ended Cal’s season.