Bears handed their first loss in Raising the B.A.R. Final

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Caroline Lobel/Staff

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After humming on all facets offensively against Furman, the wheels came off.

The undefeated were defeated Saturday after falling to Ole Miss with the score of 45-64 in the final of the Raising the B.A.R. tournament. The team had advanced to the final after beating Furman 82-73, but was not able to take home the tournament’s top spot. Cal has now dropped to 5-1.

In Friday’s game against the Paladins, the Bears put up a dominant offensive performance. They played well on the inside and out. In the paint, Evelien Lutje Schipholt carved apart the Paladins’ defense, finishing with a hyperefficient 18 points and 14 rebounds. Eight of those 14 rebounds were on the offensive end, leading to an invaluable amount of extra possessions for a Bears team that was allowing points on the other end of the floor.

Cal also got significant contributions from its guards and wings on the perimeter. Jayda Curry, the standout freshman guard, put up another impressive scoring night with an efficient 26 points. Cailyn Crocker scored 17 points and dished out six assists, while Leilani McIntosh pitched in six assists of her own. The team shot 49.1% from the field and 36% from three, which was no surprise for an offense that has shocked the women’s basketball scene by surpassing all preseason expectations. Going into the final against Ole Miss, they were cruising.

It was an awful time to fall off the rails.

In its first five games of the season, Cal averaged 77.4 points per game. The Bears’ lowest scoring bout had come against UCSD, where they scored 64. On Saturday, they managed a measly 45 points en route to a lopsided defeat against Ole Miss.

Nothing was falling for the players who have been excellent all season. Curry scored 12 points, but took 18 shots to reach that mark. She went 1-10 from three, a shocking aberration from someone who had been the team’s best shooter throughout the year. The entire team shot 23% from the field and 11% from the perimeter. It was unable to pass the ball as much as usual and ended up settling for many tough isolation looks.

After the game, head coach Charmin Smith assessed the way Ole Miss’ tenacious switching defense stopped the team from making shots.

“They’re aggressive on the ball and switching screens with a lot more capable defenders. It’s kind of the rush — it sped us up a little bit to knock down shots we usually would knock down,” Smith said.

Wing Cailyn Crocker, who still scored 10 points despite going 1-10 from the field, lamented many of the shots she wasn’t able to hit.

“Just like Charmin said, it’s a defense we’ve never seen before. But also we were getting good looks. I usually hit those,” Crocker said. “ I was confident that they’re going in. They just didn’t.”

But despite the tough loss, Crocker remains optimistic that the team could adjust to the defensive strategies that shut them down.

“We’re just going to keep working. There’s a lot of things that we can fix,” Crocker said. “As a team, you just want to stick together, keep moving forward and grow. That’s what we’re here (for).”

Casey Grae covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].