Cal women’s basketball seeks to feast at Thanksgiving Tournament in San Diego

Lorenzo dela Cruz/Staff

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Black Friday sales are upon us, and Cal women’s basketball is going shopping in San Diego to add to its unbeaten 4-0 start to the season.

The Bears headed south for the holiday to compete in the Thanksgiving Tournament hosted by the University of San Diego on Nov. 23 and 24. The action will begin Friday at 2 p.m. as the host faces Cleveland State before the 4 p.m. showdown between No. 18-ranked Cal and Tulane, two teams that are unbeaten thus far this season.

The Bears have started the season with four straight wins, primarily behind strong second-half performances in each outing. They have outscored their opponents 187 to 140 in second halves, even after trailing three of the four games at halftime.

Slow starts have surfaced as the main problem for Cal, as the Bears have not managed to score more than 15 first-quarter points in any of their four games. Tulane, however, will not be an easy opponent to stop early.

The Green Wave have started the season with three straight wins, with the last one coming against another Pac-12 member — Washington.

Tulane ranks 13th in the nation, shooting 43.6 percent from behind the arc, even though it only scores 60.3 points per game. Its defense has been stellar, as it holds its opponents to 53.7 points per game and a scary 19.6 percent from the 3-point line. The Bears score 76.5 points per game, which signals a battle of offense and defense on the court come Friday.

Both teams have three players averaging in double digits, as Tulane is led by sophomore guard Sierra Cheatham (13.0 ppg), while senior forward Kristine Anigwe (25.5 ppg) is the focal point of Cal’s offense.

Anigwe started her senior season on a mission, as she has recorded a double-double in all four games and is ranked sixth nationally in both scoring and rebounding, which makes her the only player who’s in the top 10 in both stats.

The Bears, however, will need to be careful, as they have had trouble taking care of the ball. Cal averages 19.3 turnovers, and Tulane forces its opponents to turn the ball over 21 times a game. The Bears saw that same number of balls go away from their hands in the first two games of the season.

After the battle of two unbeaten teams, Cal will face host San Diego on Saturday with the tipoff at 4 p.m. again.

The Toreros have started the season with a 1-2 record, as they defeated Hawaii at home 58-50, but they have dropped both road games. They are another team with low-scoring games, like Tulane, scoring less than 60 points in all three affairs thus far.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the key for the Bears will be to control the tempo and defeat their opponents with their varied offensive weapons to stay undefeated.

After a week off, the Bears will finally be back at Haas Pavilion on Dec. 2 to host CSUN.

Can Sariöz covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @can_sarioz.