Cal women’s basketball falls to top seed Oregon State, 65-49, in Pac-12 Tournament

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At the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cal women’s basketball team gave a small surprise when it convincingly beat USC, 71-58. The team had underperformed throughout conference play, and so such a win must have raised hopes for a fairytale run at the tournament. A star player with a great performance, team clicking together, good shooting numbers. It all fit the script perfectly.

But the thing about a fairytale run is that sometimes it is too good to be true. This is what the Bears learned today as they bowed out of the tournament with a 65-49 loss to top seed Oregon State.

The Beavers beat Cal twice in the regular season, and given the way today’s match went, it would have taken a miracle for Cal to come out on top. Oregon State started the match strong and did not relinquish its lead even once in the game.

Cal got into troubles early as it gave up nine unanswered points in the first two and a half minutes. In the same time, the Bears missed five shots. Cal got its first points up through a Kristine Anigwe layup but the offensive inefficiency that it displayed set the theme for the entire matchup. Cal shot nine of 30 from the field in the first half, while the Beavers, on the other hand, put up 20 points in the first quarter, with Sydney Wiese and Mikayla Pivec leading the way.

Wiese and Pivec were the stars for Oregon State in the first half as they scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. Wiese also notched three assists in the half, while Pivec defended with intensity on the perimeter, affording less space for Cal to shoot from three-point territory.

An early foul in the 10th minute by guard Mikayla Cowling on Wiese resulted in the Oregon guard shooting three free throws, which she duly converted. The 160point lead for the Beavers looked unassailable for Cal, but the Bears did try their best to cut it.

Cal embarked on a 12-0 run that brought them to within four points of Oregon State. Two treys and some intense transition play was at the center of Cal’s effort to close the gap. The Beavers, however, were able to create some breathing room in the sixth minute as Pivec scored a three-pointer. Pivec’s three made it into a three-possession game for the Bears, who were unable to respond in the same manner. Oregon State amped up its defensive work and held Cal scoreless in the last minute and a half of the quarter to go into the half with a nine \-point lead, 33-24.

Oregon’s superior three-point shooting proved to be an important factor during the course of the game, as it allowed the Beavers to extend its lead multiple times. Wiese scored four times from long range, while the Bears collectively managed to score only thrice from three-point land. Anigwe, in spite of being marked heavily, was able to notch 26 points and collect nine rebounds, but she severely lacked support on the offensive end. The second highest scorers for Cal were Asha Thomas and CJ West with a paltry return of six points.

The game was all but over in the third quarter as Oregon State’s defense held Cal to a scoreless run that lasted for the last six minutes. In the same time, the Beavers scored six points to go into the final quarter with a 16 point lead. While Oregon State added 17 points on the board in the quarter, Cal scored 10 but wasted crucial time in doing so.

Thus, the final quarter was mere formality as the Beavers had already outclassed their opponents. Cal reduced the lead to eight points in the first six minutes, but Oregon State responded by going on a 10-2 run in the remaining time to shatter any glimmer of hope that Cal might have had.

Wiese was the undoubted star for the Beavers as she dropped 26 points and dished out six assists. Wiese and Pivec led the way for Oregon State’s superior performance, but blame also has to go to Cal’s offensive inefficiency. The Bears shot a measly 32.3 percent from the field, and their three-point percentage was even worse, at 17.6 percent. The Beavers on the other hand, shot 42.3 percent from the field, and 43.8 percent from long range. Cal missed all of its seven three-point attempts in the second half. It was an offensive nightmare.
This loss might well be Cal’s last piece of action in the 2016-17 season. A win would have improved their chances of making it to the NCAA tournament, but that looks like a long shot now. More was expected from Cal this season, and unfortunately, it was unable to deliver.

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