Stanford blows out Cal women’s basketball amid Bears’ offensive struggles

Woman bounces basketball as she looks at her opponent who tries to challenge her.
Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Remember the scene in the first “Deadpool” movie when Deadpool forgets his weapon bag going into the fight? Cal women’s basketball knows the feeling, as the team seems to have forgotten its offensive weapons at home before its trip to the Farm to face Stanford.

After a 40 percent shooting night behind the arc at Haas Pavilion on Thursday, just two days ago, the Bears couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives tonight, and Stanford blew out Cal for a 75-50 win to split the Battle of the Bay series.

Cal either forgot its weapons entirely or ran out of arsenal from the previous game, but regardless, it was the worst-case scenario against the great defensive team that is the Cardinal.

The game started as bad as it could get. On the offensive end, the Bears couldn’t find their rhythm, and they never did all game long. After a 10-0 start by Stanford, Jaelyn Brown scored Cal’s first points in transition four minutes into the game.

“Cal has a very talented team, and we had to play very well to be able to win,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer.

Cal was lost on the court both offensively and defensively.

After five minutes of action, the Bears had as many turnovers as points, with four, while the Cardinal picked Cal’s defense apart with open layups. The abysmal performance by the Bears saw the game slip away early, as Stanford established a 22-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

At the end of the first quarter, Brown sent a prayer from behind the half-court line, and it might have been the push that Cal needed to get back into the game. The time, however, expired on any hope left, and the shot did not count.

“That first quarter really hurt us,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “I will say I really like how our players stayed together and fought and competed together.”

In the second quarter, the Bears showed some prowess on the defensive end as Stanford struggled to find its shot, but Cal couldn’t make any shots to cut the deficit. The Cardinal finished the half with a 20-point lead, 37-17.

Stanford used the chance to give minutes to every player in the roster and secured the lead without much effort the rest of the way. In the fourth quarter, the Cardinal saw their largest lead, 29 points, but the Bears hit back with three consecutive buckets, the first time they achieved the feat this game. Even after 9 unanswered Cal points, the game ended with a dominant 25-point blowout for Stanford. The Cardinal will now go to their two top-10 matchups against Oregon State and Oregon with extra motivation — beating Cal after losing the last two games likely provided a much-needed morale boost. On the other hand, Cal will need to forget about this game as soon as possible and get ready for the next weekend.

After a close matchup on Thursday, today’s game did not see any lead changes and saw no ties except for in the first two minutes, when both teams struggled to score. Though Cal shot 40 percent behind the arc on Thursday, it was Stanford that managed to achieve that in the first quarter tonight. Cal had trouble defending the cuts for open layups in both games, and it will definitely be a point of emphasis in practice this weekend before the Bears face two top-10 teams.

“We knew coming into the game on Thursday how bad Cal wanted it, but I think seeing how excited they were after the win really got to us,” said Stanford guard DiJonai Carrington. “We didn’t want that again, so we just knew that we had to come out from the start and never let up.”

The key to the loss was, however, a complete lack of scoring for the blue and gold. At the first half, Cal missed all nine of its 3-point attempts and finished the game with only three of seventeen behind the arc. The Bears also shot only 26.7 percent on the field and had just two assists compared to 15 turnovers in the game.

One thing Cal did better than Thursday was going to the line, as Stanford sent the Bears to the charity stripe 25 times, but shooting 60 percent in those attempts did not do much damage.

While the big three of Stanford all scored in double-digits, Cal relied too much on Anigwe. Carrington and Kiana Williams led the Cardinals with 19 apiece. Alanna Smith added 16 of her own, though the star forward struggled again behind the arc, going 0 for 3.

On the other side, Cal had four players attempting more than 10 shots, but Receé Caldwell was the only one who could make five, which she achieved in 12 attempts for 12 points. Anigwe was once again dominant for her second straight 20-20 game with 20 points and 20 rebounds, but most of her points came from the charity stripe, where she shot 12 for 16.

“It’s disappointing today because we had a chance to sweep them, and we lost today. They were terrific,” Gottlieb said. “But if you told me before that we’d split with them, I’d say ‘OK, it’s a big win, and let’s move forward.’”

A clear insight for the Bears was that Anigwe can produce the numbers everyone is used to from her even if she is double or triple-teamed, but Cal must play and win as a team. In this game, Stanford outscored, outcoached and outperformed Cal in every area. The Bears will now turn their focus to next week and try to steal wins to start the second half of the Pac-12 play.

“Our team will be better for having seen how hard Stanford played today, the good adjustments that they made. They are so well-coached. They have really good players,” Gottlieb said. “It will make us better for the second half of conference — the next eight games that we have.”

Can Sariöz is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @can_sarioz.