Cal saved its best performance of the year for Senior Night, defeating Arizona State 67-55. Sophomore point guard Leilani McIntosh played the hero, dropping 21 points en route to the Bears’ first win of their 2020-21 campaign.
The game started out rough, with the two teams shooting a combined 5-24 from the field in the first quarter. For Cal, Mia Mastrov carried the bulk of the scoring load, scoring four out of Cal’s five first-period points on 2-3 shooting. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, shot a measly 18.8% from the field.
While Cal shot better than Arizona State early on, the Sun Devils had five offensive rebounds and consequently took double the number of shots that the Bears threw up. As a result, Arizona State held a narrow three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Cal got off to a rough start, but the Bears came out of the first quarter with arguably their best quarter of the season, outscoring the Sun Devils 21-14 in the second. The Bears shot an impressive 5-10 from the field and 3-6 from three. Beyond that, they were perfect from the free-throw line, making all eight of their free throw attempts.
Cal repeatedly fed sophomore forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt, who started off the quarter with an and-one basket, setting the tone for the rest of the quarter. Schipholt had eight points in the quarter, going a perfect 4-4 from the stripe and an efficient 2-3 from the field.
McIntosh, meanwhile, did a great job of controlling the pace of the game, hitting back-to-back threes that brought the Bears back from their early quarter deficit. Not only did the blue and gold put on an offensive show, but they also locked down on the defensive end and held the Sun Devils to an atrocious 35.7% shooting split on the quarter.
To open the second half, Cal established its inside presence with freshman center Fatou Samb scoring a three-point play. This pattern continued for the rest of the quarter, during which the Bears scored 10 out of their 16 points in the paint. The blue and gold also built on their efficient shooting efforts from the second quarter, hitting a solid six out of 13 shots.
It was a well-balanced scoring effort, with six different players netting baskets. Sophomore forward Dalayah Daniels led the way with five points on 2-3 shooting. After a strong defensive quarter, it might be tempting for a team to take its foot off the gas, but the Bears remained relentless on the defensive side of the ball. Cal held Arizona to 4-14 shooting from the field.
Cal never let up despite entering the final period with an eight-point lead, scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter. McIntosh dominated throughout, scoring 12 points on perfect shooting. The Bears shot an astounding 70% from the field as a team and made all but one of their free throws on the quarter, going 10-11 from the line.
Overall, Cal showed a lot of growth in this game, hitting 22-28 free throws and shooting a stellar 48.8% from the field. At long last, the Bears can celebrate a win.
Justin Kim covers women’s basketball and men’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected]