For LeBron James, greatness is the norm. Night in and night out, mind-blowing performances become stuff of the mundane. After Cal senior forward Kristine Anigwe dropped 37 points in the Bears’ home opener against Houston, she’s just getting started on a season in which the amazing will soon become the expected.
This weekend, Cal women’s basketball will be heading to Penn State to face off against the Lady Lions for its first away game of the season. The Bears will be coming off a nail-biter win against the Cougars, in which Anigwe led the team with an inspired second-half performance.
Anigwe was able to capitalize on Houston’s lack of size in the frontcourt to dominate in the paint. Penn State will be no different, with the Lady Lions only fielding one starter standing taller than six feet — 6’2” junior guard Jaida Travascio-Green.
Without any experienced defenders in her way, Anigwe should have a field day in the paint as she works to build off of her impressive start to the season.
Behind the talented center, junior forward Jaelyn Brown is poised to have another strong performance after posting 10 points and grabbing eight boards against Houston. Last season, the Lady Lions were especially susceptible on the glass, and against the Bears, it’ll be no different as Cal will seek to leverage its size advantage against the shorter Penn State lineup.
While the Bears have a distinct advantage in the paint, Penn State will be no pushover, having posted an 11-4 record last season at home. Add in the fact that the Lady Lions will be returning the majority of their starters and scoring from last season, and they are bound to be a deadly squad this year.
Cal saw firsthand against Houston how a difficult an experienced team can be, and Penn State will be no different.
The Lady Lions will be led by senior guard Teniya Page — an offensive machine who averaged 18.4 points per contest last season to lead Penn State in scoring. Similar to Houston, Penn State features another backcourt-heavy offense, and Cal will have its hands full trying to contain it.
With all the hype surrounding Cal’s frontline, one name that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Cal senior point guard Asha Thomas. While Anigwe is the focal point of the Bears’ high-powered offense, Thomas is the key cog that keeps everything running smoothly.
Against Houston, Thomas dished out seven dimes to just one turnover, dictating the offense at every turn. While she was only able to convert 1 of 9 shots from the field, she lived at the charity stripe with eight made free throws.
Thomas will be facing a stellar defensive squad in Penn State, as the Lady Lions constantly harassed their opponents to the tune of eight steals per game last season. With the Bears committing 21 turnovers against Houston, they will need to take extra care of the ball against the active hands of Penn State if they’re looking to start the season 2-0.
The Bears are off to a promising start with a home win against a strong Houston squad. Now let’s see if they can keep the ball rolling as they head out to unfamiliar territory.