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Cal outpaced by UCLA in double-digit loss

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FEBRUARY 21, 2023

Cal women’s basketball has had one near-constant in a topsy-turvy season: it resolutely defends its home floor. But in a tough matchup against UCLA, the Bruins barely broke a sweat as they played Cal off the Haas Pavilion court. The end result was never in doubt; Cal fell 54-67 to UCLA, its second double-digit loss against the Bruins this season.

The Bruins bottled up Cal’s offense, forcing the Bears into a number of bad shots. Cal’s offensive output was primarily generated by Jayda Curry, Leilani McIntosh and Kemery Martín. The three-guard combination scored 43 of the Bears’ 54 points, but the players received next to no help from their teammates.

Only five Cal players got into the box score; the Bears’ inability to diversify their scoring options prevented the team from launching a real comeback.

On the opposite end, Cal played whack-a-mole with UCLA’s offensive scoring threats. The Bears held Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice, the Bruins’ two leading scorers, to a combined 16 points. Holding the duo to well under its averages was a must-have if Cal was to pull off an upset; however, the Bears were doomed by another small scoring guard off the bench, Londynn Jones. The freshman led the game in scoring with 19 points, using her speed and quickness to carve open space for open shots and make up for Osbourne and Rice’s unusually cold night.

The Bears’ inability to stop Jones spoke to UCLA’s sheer speed advantage. UCLA is one of the smaller teams in the top 25 and it likes to go with small-ball lineups to burn opponents with speed. The Bruins ran rings around Cal’s bigs, forcing head coach Charmin Smith to make an adjustment for the third quarter: a small-ball lineup featuring Karisma Ortiz at center.

“(I liked) the effort and movement,” Smith said. “The perimeter threats and just trying to get us going and loosen up (Curry and McIntosh) in particular to get some better shots. I didn’t think we were getting that with the bigs on the floor.”

The third quarter adjustment was one of the few times the Bears have gone small-ball this season. Smith tends to go with at least one of Evelien Lutje Schipholt, Peanut Tuitele or Michelle Onyiah at all times. The adjustment unclogged the offense but also allowed UCLA to dominate on the offensive glass. In another novelty for Cal, Smith had the small-ball lineup engage the Bruins with a full court press.

Ultimately, Smith’s adjustments weren’t enough to mount a comeback, but moving forward, the UCLA game may mark the beginning of a more tactically innovative and adaptable Cal team.

Smith said she is hesitant to use the small-ball lineup more moving forward, especially against bigger teams who crash the offensive boards. But the head coach also expressed her willingness to experiment more with the full court press in future games.

“I wish we could have been better,” Smith said. “The offensive rebounding hurt us. But I like some things that we’re developing. I like how our press is developing. I thought these two (Curry and McIntosh) shot well from the field against some aggressive pressure so there are some positives but there is a lot of work to do.”

Contact Kenzo Fukuda at 


FEBRUARY 21, 2023