The Bears are up by five with 18 seconds left in regulation. They are in the bonus, with a stellar lineup in and ready to seal a win for the Cal women’s basketball team. The game is as good as done — or so everyone thought. With 12 seconds left, Oregon (11-5, 1-3) scores a three pointer, and with nine remaining they put up a layup. The score is tied, and what was once a sure win becomes a tight loss as the Ducks hit a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the game to beat the Bears 69-66.
2017 has not been kind to Cal.
After gaining the first possession of the game, Cal (13-3, 1-3) struck first when Mikayla Cowling found Kristine Anigwe, who finished the play with an easy layup. From there, the battle went back and forth with seven lead changes throughout the course of the quarter. The two Bears who initiated that first play also turned out to be the most effective for their team, scoring all 13 of Cal’s points. The efforts by Cowling and Anigwe, however, were not enough to gain the lead and they closed the quarter down 14-13.
The Ducks, conversely, saw their scoring effort come from four different players. Seeming to play better on nearly every cylinder in the first 10 minutes, Oregon outrebounded the Bears both offensively and defensively.
The second quarter started out in a similar fashion to the first — with a defensive rebound by Anigwe and an assist by Cowling. Though this time, the basket was scored by Penina Davidson.
After seeing a greater offensive contribution from the entire team, the Bears were able to gain a slight two point lead by the quarter’s close. While Anigwe and Cowling still led Cal in scoring, Courtney Range, Asha Thomas, C.J. West and Davidson also contributed points. The Bears were also able put up four three-pointers in the second quarter to their percentage for the first half .5 from behind the arc.
Additionally, Cal’s defense tightened up and did not allow the Ducks to score a basket for the first 3:48 of the quarter. After gaining a seven-point lead, though, Oregon came back and the Bears finished the first half with only a narrow 32-30 lead.
Cal struggled again in the third quarter, losing their lead and going down by four. The Bears went scoreless for a little over three and a half minutes at a point in the quarter, which hindered the progress they had made in the second. Cal appeared more sloppy on offense, accruing five turnovers in the quarter, which lead to 10 points for the Ducks.
The Bears had their work cut out for them as they entered the fourth quarter. They not only needed to make an offensive push unlike any they had had so far in the game, but they also had to shut down Oregon completely. And it looked as though Cal was going to be able to do just that — taking the lead with 5:30 left in the game and shutting the Ducks out again for nearly three minutes.
But then Oregon broke its dry spell and regained the lead. The game flip-flopped from there, with both teams taking control in the remaining minutes. Cal, however, was able to take and extend a three-point lead with 1:30 left, making it seem as though a victory was imminent. But indeed, things can change quickly, and the Bears, missing two key free throws in the remaining moments of the game, fell to the Ducks 69-66.
“We are devastated. Credit to Oregon, they fought the whole game. We made a lot of mistakes at the end, all of us. But I’m proud of our players’ fight to get the lead,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “We are better than losing three in a row, we are better than being beat on our home court. So we are going to let this one hurt for a while and go back on the road and try and beat whoever is in front of us next.”