Kristine Anigwe scores 50 in Cal women’s basketball’s 97-73 win over Sacramento State

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If you had to describe Cal women’s basketball’s opening eight games in four words, it would be safe to call them “The Kristine Anigwe show.” Coming into Thursday’s matchup against Sacramento State, the forward led Cal in scoring with 19.4 points per game and rebounds with 8.9 boards per game. Anigwe’s show reached its zenith, as she scored 50 points in Cal’s 97-73 win.

The first quarter was all Anigwe as she dropped 18 points on Sacramento State, shooting eight from 10. The forward was unstoppable in the paint, and her dominant post game allowed Cal to dart to a 21-point lead at the end of the quarter.

The same trend continued in the second quarter as well, with Cal’s offense making mincemeat of the Hornets’ leaky defense. But while Anigwe extended her scoring figures by 13, forward Courtney Range was the Bears’ defensive general. Range recorded two blocks in the first half for Cal, as well as four defensive rebounds. The Bears completely locked down Sacramento State’s offensive game, and at the end of the half, the game was all but over.

Cal’s strategy in the first half was simple: pass the ball to Anigwe in the key, and she will do the rest. She shot an astounding 85.71 percent from the field in the first half, and also  converted seven of nine free throws. Mikayla Cowling, Asha Thomas and Mi’Cole Cayton were the creative facilitators as they notched three, four and three assists, respectively, with Anigwe being the primary benefactor.

“The whole team did a great job of sticking to the game plan,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “Like I say, kind of feeding the beast inside. That was important to us as Sac State can score so much. Credit to the team for the job they did, and to Kristine for making extraordinary things look ordinary.”

The second half started on a similar note as Cal continued stinging the Hornets through Anigwe. Cal, however, became sloppier as its lead increased, with its turnovers increasing by three between the the fourth and seventh minute. Sacramento State’s toothless offense, however, was unable to capitalize and by the end of the third quarter, no Hornet player had scored in double figures as the team missed shot after shot.

The fourth quarter ended up becoming nothing but just another 10 minutes of misery for the visitors. Anigwe took this time to score 50 points, the first time this has happened in Cal women’s basketball’s history. The Hornets tried to stop her but were unsuccessful in doing so as the match ended up becoming a one-woman demolition.

“I feel so blessed right now,” Anigwe said. “I can’t even think straight at this point of time. My mom texted me, ‘Kristine, what the heck!’ I’m happy I got to do this for the team and Lindsay and everyone who has helped me with my game. I’m really happy to be here right now.”

While numbers seem to dilute the true nature in which a game is played out, today they told the absolute truth with the scoreline exactly representing the efforts of both teams. Cal stuck to its strategy of feeding Anigwe the ball, and the Hornets paid the price for not dealing adequately with the same. Moreover, Sacramento State shot an abysmal 27.7 percent from the floor, something that reflected in the team’s scoring figures.

The win allowed Cal to start the 2016-17 season with a program best 8-0 record. So far, Cal’s competition has not been up to scratch when compared to the Bears’ quality. With conference play to start soon, the Bears can look at these wins as a stepping stone to what is going to be a competitive season.

Devang Prasad covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DevangPrasad.