Like an ambitious New Year’s resolution that lasts a few days before unraveling, the Cal women’s basketball team is flaming out after a strong start in preseason play. This weekend, the Bears were overmatched in their trip up to the Beaver State, falling in blowouts to No. 8 Oregon State and No. 6 Oregon to drop to 0-6 in Pac-12 play.
On Friday, Cal had a solid start against Oregon State, keeping the game tied at 17 after the first quarter. But a dominant second quarter allowed the Beavers to pull away, and the Bears never got another chance.
In the end, Oregon State was simply too much for Cal, and the Bears fell 81-44. On defense, the Beavers built a sturdy dam, holding the blue and gold to 25.8 percent shooting as a team and allowing only one player to score more than two field goals. On offense, the Beavers brought a balanced attack, with four players scoring in double figures while the bench tossed in another 31 points.
On Sunday, it didn’t get any easier for the Bears. Oregon features the three-headed attack of Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard, all of whom combine to average 50 points a game. And with fourth-leading scorer Erin Boley putting up a career high 22 points in the contest, the Ducks looked like the Monstars from “Space Jam.”
The Bears were physically outmatched and the Ducks took advantage from the start. After one quarter, Oregon led 31-14, and the Ducks continued to outscore the Bears at around a 2-to-1 clip for the remainder of the game for a decisive 105-55 win.
Oregon had its way on offense, scoring almost at will from everywhere on the court. The Ducks shot 61% from the field and 59% from beyond the arc. The onslaught was Oregon’s third time reaching 100 points this season.
The Bears knew their only chance for success was in shooting three-pointers, so head coach Charmin Smith gave the team’s three-point leader Jazlen Green her first career start. And in a 50-point loss, the freshman’s performance was one of the few bright spots. Green came out firing from the start, scoring 10 of her career-high 16 points in the first quarter, including two three-pointers.
This weekend’s games continued to highlight Cal’s lack of interior strength. Against Oregon State, Cal had no answer for 6’4” Taylor Jones, 6’6” Kennedy Brown and 6’7” Patricia Morris, all of whom owned the glass and scored efficiently inside. Against Oregon, the size of Sabally and Hebard generated easy opportunities around the rim, especially with Ionescu delivering pocket passes off of screens and in transition.
In years past, star center Kristine Anigwe was able to command the paint and take on the opposing team’s top interior player. Without her, Cal’s defense has a gaping hole in the middle that other teams are starting to expose.
After going through the gauntlet over the past two weeks against Stanford and in Oregon, Cal’s schedule eases up over the next few weeks. The Bears don’t play another ranked team until No. 7 UCLA in three weeks, so they will have a chance to resolve their recent problems and gain their first victory of the new year.
Tim Sun covers women’s basketball. Contact him at