If there is one thing that’s definite about college sports in this new era of postponements, cancellations and uncertainty, it’s that anything can happen.
Women’s basketball in the “Conference of Champions” has become a game of seemingly constant adaptation to unforeseen challenges — and this week Cal faced a new kind of roadblock, as mechanical issues with Arizona State’s team plane left the blue and gold without an opponent Wednesday. But a swift and creative solution brought Cal State LA out to Haas Pavilion and evolved into two additional tallies in the Bears’ win column.
Despite the sudden changes, Cal had a display of domination Wednesday afternoon, hammering the Southern California Division II program 98-53, while showcasing several glimmering individual performances. Just shy of achieving triple digits, this contest marks the highest scoring output since the Bears’ Dec. 11 domination of McNeese State 102-60.
The home team finished with five players scoring in the double digits and contributing 77 of the total 98 points. Junior guard Jazlen Green took center stage for the Bears, matching her career high with 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field. Freshman point guard Jayda Curry netted 18 points, while sophomore forwards Dalayah Daniels and Fatou Samb collected 16 and 10 points, respectively. Contributing to the front-court field day, sophomore forward Michelle Onyiah supplied 13 points on a 6-7 clip and seized 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.
Beyond the highly effective individual scoring exhibition, Cal looked confident and well put-together as a team. Fueled by Green’s pair of triples, the blue and gold raced out to a 27-4 lead in the opening period, and although they only outscored the Golden Eagles by six in the second quarter, the Bears had assumed a 52-23 advantage by halftime.
On both ends of the court, Cal took authoritative control of the inside game –– it connected for 50 points in the paint and outrebounded Cal State LA 50-36. Not only that, but the Bears’ defensive performance was reminiscent of the firepower they had displayed in their preseason games. Cal held the Golden Eagles to a measly 21-73 (28.8%) shooting from the field and a downright pitiful 4-26 from 3-point land.
Further nostalgic of preseason play, the blue and gold went to work in transitions. Strategic positioning as well as alertness on the ball and in the gaps allowed Cal to pile 22 points off of 14 forced turnovers.
15 points from Golden Eagle guard Anai Washington was not enough to phase the Bears, as they locked in on their fundamentals. The home team capitalized on its trips to the charity stripe, finishing with a season-best free-throw percentage at 92.9%.
Although a blowout victory against a scrambling DII opponent, Cal head coach Charmin Smith expressed early on the value of each win. After all, a win is a win. Pleased with its overall performance, Cal will try to take the momentum and a lesson of adaptation from this last minute matchup as it shifts back to Pac-12 play Friday against powerhouse Oregon. Arizona State’s forfeit of Wednesday’s schedule contest due to travel issues will place another win in the record books.