All eyes were on Cal’s star sophomore Kristine Anigwe, as everyone wondered what she would do for an encore after dropping a school-record 50 points against Sacramento State.
Anigwe followed up with her sixth consecutive double-double of the season, scoring a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, as the Bears (9-0) remained undefeated after easily dispatching Lehigh (5-6) 96-63 at home.
“Certainly there were things that were good today, but I think that we need to get better,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “I think they’re really trying to listen to my messages on what we need to do. Again you saw the balance on offense. A lot of the scoring production came from the frontcourt from Penina (Davidson), Kristine, Courtney (Range) and Chen (Yue). But the balance just seemed good for the guards to be shooting the ball. I think we just need to play the best 40 minutes we can and not look at the scoreboard.”
As has been the theme in the majority of their wins, the Bears jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Playing in its final home game of the calendar year, Cal opened the game with an 18-1 run. The Bears held Lehigh to just six points on 2 of 16 shooting in the first quarter — the fewest points the Bears have allowed in any quarter all season.
The Bears’ suffocating defense in the first quarter didn’t quite last all game, however, as Oakland-native Quinci Mann scored 23 points to lead Lehigh’s offense. The Bears gave up a lackadaisical 26 points in the third quarter, but by that point, the game was practically over.
That’s because the Bears shot a season-high 60 percent from the floor, with most of the production coming from their frontcourt. Coming into the game, Cal ranked No. 2 in the nation in terms of field goal percentage. And unsurprisingly, Cal controlled the paint all night, scoring 58 points to Lehigh’s 18 in that facet of the game. Range, who played in her 100th career game, put up 16 points, while Davidson scored 16 points and fell just one point shy of her career high.
Cal’s guards also put on a show. Sophomore Asha Thomas and freshman Mi’Cole Cayton dished out nine assists apiece, which set up their teammates for easy shots all afternoon. As a team, the Bears assisted on 29 of their 39 made shots, falling just short of the nice round team stat of 30 assists that the Golden State Warriors so routinely hit.
Charles Barkley might want to start watching Cal women’s basketball before harping on the Warriors for playing “girly basketball.”
The Bears also honored the late Tennessee Lady Vols head coach Pat Summit during the game for her contributions to women’s basketball and raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Just to know that once upon a time women weren’t able to play basketball, and the fact that we are now and we’re growing the game means a lot,” Range said. “This is the sport that I love to play, and it’s given me and my team here the ability to show off our talents day by day, and it’s just a great feeling. I’m very thankful of Pat and everyone around.”
And with the win, the Bears can now join the rest of their fellow students in preparing for their final exams of the semester. One might argue that finals could be the biggest challenge they’ve faced thus far.
We have great students,” Gottlieb said. “We have kids who are legitimately student-athletes who came here for the degree and the school. I like coaching players like that. The best part is a lot of them having been doing work all semester that’s not been cramming time and have been working. We will give them a couple days off. They’ve earned that.”
Jeffrey Liu covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]