No. 20 Cal women’s basketball drops home match against No. 16 Oregon State

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If the Bears are to make it to the NCAA tournament, where they would play good teams, they’ll need to find a way to play well in all facets of the game for four quarters.

Its 66-56 loss at home against No. 16 Oregon State (14-1, 3-0) on Friday night marks the second loss of the year for the No. 20 Cal women’s basketball team (13-2, 1-2). The Bears lost their previous game as well, when they were unable to close out a double overtime thriller against No. 18 Arizona State. After starting the season undefeated, Cal suddenly finds itself struggling in Pac-12 play.

“This conference will teach you lessons and humble you really fast,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “We’ve played two really great opponents back-to-back, and we’ve been in both games but just haven’t done enough of the little things we need to do to win. I was proud of how we fought until the end. I think we have to figure out how to play forty minutes of consistency ”

During the Bears’ scorching start to the season, they were able to get away with a quarter here or there of lapses on offense and/or defense and still win the game. That was evident in Cal’s win against then-No. 20 Oklahoma on Dec. 20. when the Bears almost gave up a 25 point lead, and when Cal nearly gave up a 17 point lead against UC Riverside back on Nov. 20.

But against quality teams such as Arizona State and Oregon State, these lapses give way to surges by the opponent which ultimately become too much to overcome.

The Bears were done in this game by the offensive runs that the Beavers made at the end of the 1st half and at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. With 4:26 left in the second quarter and Cal leading 29-26, Oregon State went on an 8-0 run to close out the half. Then after halftime, the Beavers went on a 16-6 run to begin the third quarter and go up 50-35. From there, the Beavers kept a relatively comfortable lead for the remainder of the game.

Perhaps the only scare Oregon State received in the second half was when Cal’s Jaelyn Brown hit two shots to cut the lead down to 7 with 3:45 to go in the fourth quarter, but the Beavers were able to close out the game without any further trouble.

“Credit to (Oregon State), they’re going to make you pay if you make a mental or physical mistake,” Gottlieb said.

The first half was very competitive, as both teams were trading shots back and forth, including 10 lead changes. But the runs sparked by Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec and Breanna Brown proved too much to overcome. Pivec ended up leading the Beavers in scoring with 19 points, while Brown finished with 14 points.

Cal sophomore Kristine Anigwe was her usual spectacular self, finishing with a game-high 26 points to mark her 25th consecutive game scoring in double digits. Senior Courtney Range nearly notched a double-double, finishing the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Range’s 10 points now moves her into 24th place on Cal’s all-time scoring list.

“To me, I’m in awe every time (Anigwe) scores,” Range said. “She does something new every time and you know, she’s a beast down there.”

It will be up to Anigwe and the rest of the Bears to prevent a repeat of what happened last season. During the 2015-16 season, Cal also started off hot in nonconference play — compiling a record of 9-2 — before faltering against Pac-12 opponents to wind up with a 15-17 record and missing out on the tournament.

The Bears will look to end their two-game skid against Oregon at home Sunday afternoon. From there, Cal will hit the road against Colorado and Utah before coming back to Berkeley for the start of the academic spring semester.

Jeffrey Liu covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the Cal versus Oregon women’s basketball game Friday as a road game. In fact, Cal played the game at home