Already up 69-49, Mi’Cole Cayton steals the ball in the beginning of the fourth quarter and streaks down the court, laying the ball up with confidence and grace. Her demeanor shows that even though the Bears aren’t playing on their own court, they nonetheless own the game — a sentiment reflected in the final 86-65 score.
The Cal women’s basketball team (7-0) went on an absolute tirade in the first half. If there was even a chance that Nebraska (3-4) was going to be able to keep up with the well-oiled machine that is the Bears, it was eradicated by the time the first 20 minutes had elapsed.
Cal was able to come out to a 25-19 lead in the first quarter thanks to big scoring performances from two of Cal’s most consistent offensive threats this season: Asha Thomas and Kristine Anigwe. Anigwe led the team with nine points while Thomas contributed six, which accounted for more than half of their team’s points on the quarter.
It appeared as though the Huskers might be able to hang with the Bears in the first 10 minutes, in large part because of their extremely high 57.1 three-point field goal percentage that led to four threes.
Nebraska, however, was unable to continue its stellar shooting from behind the arch and fell into a deep hole in the second quarter, being outscored by the Bears, 22-9. Cal’s hugely successful second quarter saw big point contributions from freshmen C.J. West and Cayton, who scored four and five points, respectively.
And the Bears were not just running the show offensively — they were also playing extremely efficient and effective defense. Cal made 10 huge steals in the first half as compared to Nebraska’s zero, and played tight defense around the rim, to tally six total blocks in the first 20 minutes.
Entering the third quarter with a sizable 47-28 lead, the Bears only continued on their upward trajectory throughout the final two quarters. Extending its pattern of solid defense, Cal was able to limit the Husker’s scoring possibilities, and allowed only two of Nebraska’s players to hit double-digits in the course of the game. By the end of the contest, Mikayla Cowling had racked up an impressive seven steals, accounting for more than one-third of her team’s 18 total steals.
Conversely, the Bears proved that they are a deep offensive machine as five players reached double-digits — Thomas, Anigwe, Cayton, West and Jaelyn Brown. With three of these five being freshman, the room for Cal to grow and improve is huge, and a testament to the skill of the youngest class.
Surprisingly, Nebraska’s star player Jessica Shepard was held to a mere eight points and eight rebounds, a huge fall from her previous numbers. The Huskers were instead led in scoring by freshman Nicea Eliely who put up 19 points, nearly a third of her team’s total.
Although the fourth quarter was the lowest scoring one for the Bears — putting up only 17 points — they finished the contest with a huge 86-65 win. If nothing else, the win shows the expansiveness of Cal’s roster, a quality that will no doubt come in handy against more fearsome opponents.
Sophie Goethals covers women’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected]