Losing five of its last six games, losing its second straight road game and losing by 1 point despite taking two shots in the final seconds of the game are all good reasons why Cal women’s basketball’s 62-61 loss to Arizona State is a bitter one.
But what makes it even more bitter is that the Bears (10-5, 1-3) did not allow the Sun Devils (12-4, 3-2) to make any shots for the last seven minutes of the game and still lost. It wasn’t that their comeback fell short — Cal also did not sink any shots for the last four minutes.
It was a low-scoring game that, in the end, was decided by free throws. By the numbers, Cal was the better free-throw shooting team and went 16 for 20 on the line against the Sun Devils’ 10 for 15. Kristine Anigwe’s sharpshooting helped the Bears outperform Arizona State at the line, making 11 of 12 attempts at the charity stripe.
In most of the stats, the teams were on par with one another, and the game appeared to be balanced. The matchup between No. 19 ASU and then-No. 24 Cal delivered in terms of competition what it lacked in scoring, with 18 lead changes and 13 ties.
Anigwe led the Bears with 21 points and 16 rebounds for yet another double-double, but the star of the day was Kianna Ibis for the Sun Devils, as she finished with 26 points on nine of 12 shooting and knocked down all four of her attempts from behind the arc.
Cal junior Jaelyn Brown was the only other player with double-digit scoring, earning 11 points despite losing her starting five spot to C.J. West. West started for the first time this season, but she finished with four rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
Even though Anigwe delivered another big night for Cal, especially on the free-throw line, she converted only five of her 17 attempts from the field. She missed several shots down low, including a go-ahead bucket that she rushed in an inbound play at the end of the game.
Cal only shot 39 percent in the game, which was the deal breaker for the Bears. The Sun Devils converted 47 percent of their shots.
Arizona State also made 46 percent from behind the arc, but Cal matched that with 45 percent. With only 11 attempted threes, the Bears took the fewest shots from 3-point range that they have taken all conference, though their 45 percent accuracy marked a Pac-12-play high for the team.
Another interesting aspect of the game was the use of depth — Arizona State used 11 players, while Cal played only seven, as usual.
The Bears lost yet another close game after leading by 2 points with 1 minute, 26 seconds left, and in the end, Arizona State got the tip over by just 1 point.
Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her athletes will need to find their form and bounce back in their upcoming games against Washington State and Washington. If they don’t, it will be even harder to see a light at the end of this dark tunnel that the last couple of weeks has been for the Bears.