The beginning of the 2016-17 season has been good to the Cal women’s basketball team. After finishing their last game of the calendar year with a 74-64 win over Arizona (9-3), the Bears still boast an undefeated 13-0 record — one that they hope to continue into the new year.
The No. 21 Bears, continuing their pattern of slow starts, trailed the Wildcats for the majority of the first quarter, finally overtaking them with a little over two minutes left to close out the period with a 19-17 lead. Cal struggled early on to maintain tight and active defense, allowing Arizona to break through and score easy baskets down low on multiple occasions. Its offense was similarly stagnant, only finding its stride in the latter half of the quarter.
The Bears’ first period scoring was lead by Mikayla Cowling and Courtney Range, who each contributed five points. They found a large portion of their scoring from behind the arc, going 3-6 from the three point line.
In the second quarter, Cal was able to extend the minute lead that they had built in the first quarter and finished the half up 36-26. The second quarter saw a push from the Bears offensively as they improved their ball movement and found more success finishing down low.
In the first half, Cal had an impressive 46 percent field goal percentage as compared to the Wildcats’ 35, while also outshooting Arizona from beyond the arc. The Bears were also dominant down low, outscoring Arizona in the paint, 16-12. Also contributing to its increased lead, Cal was able to pull down 20 rebounds to the Wildcats’ 11 — 12 of which came from the combined efforts of Penina Davidson and Kristine Anigwe.
Although the Bears pulled away in the second quarter, Arizona slowly began to claw back in the third. Cal’s lead was narrowed towards the end of the quarter, and it finished with only a seven point lead, 55-48. The push from the Wildcats was led by LaBrittney Jones, who scored nine points in the quarter alone, putting her point total up to that point at 18.
The Bears, though, regained their hold on the game in the final quarter of the game — extending their lead to a safe margin and ending the contest with a 74-64 win in their first game of the Pac-12 season. The final quarter, though messier than the other three, nonetheless showed the resolute nature and toughness this Cal team.
Two Cal players — Davidson and Anigwe — were able to put up double-doubles and combined made more than half of their team’s 45 rebounds. Davidson’s performance marks the first double-double of her career, while for Anigwe, the performance is akin to that of her many other this season.
The entire Bears lineup came out in full force for the game, with four players scoring in the double-digits and three others also putting up points. Cal was also superior in nearly every scoring category — besting Arizona in bench points, second chance points, field goal percentage and points in the paint. The Bears, however, committed 15 turnovers that led to 15 points by the Wildcats, a number that they are going to have to decrease if they want to find success in the hypercompetitive Pac-12.
Arizona was led by Jones, who finished with 24 points, and Malena Washington, who put up 13 points of her own and made seven assists. As a team, the Wildcats only grabbed 27 rebounds, which was no doubt a contributing factor in their loss to the dominant-down-low Bears.
Cal’s next game will be on Jan. 1 at 2:00 p.m. against No. 18 Arizona State, a game that will likely pose a threat to its golden record.
Sophie Goethals covers women’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected]