What a difference a year makes for Courtney Range.
Last year as a freshman, the forward struggled for much of the season to finish inside and missed her first 18 attempts from beyond the arc.
On this night, Range hit 10 of 13 attempts, including three of four treys, for 27 points as she led the #15 California Golden Bears to a season-opening 84-64 victory over the Pacific Tigers. Range added a game-high 11 rebounds for good measure.
The Bears had three more players in double-figures. Freshman
Mikayla Cowling closed with a flurry and ended with 18 points, while stars
Reshanda Gray and Brittany Boyd, saddled with foul trouble, notched 17 and 12
Cowling and Gray each had seven rebounds as Cal won that
Boyd had a game-high eight assists as Cal shared the ball,
amassing 21 assists on 30 baskets.
Hailie Eackles had 14 points and Erin Butler scored 11 for
the Tigers. Pacific was playing without senior leader Kendall Kenyon (15.9 ppg,
10.2 rpg last year); Kenyon had scored 29 points at Cal last season.
Cal started quickly, pulling ahead 6-0 and 11-3, with
Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray leading the way.
Pacific closed within 19-14 on Kristina Johnson’s lay-up.
Cal scored the next seven points, with Boyd finding Gray inside,
hitting a three-pointer, and then turning her steal into a fast-break score for
Jefflo, and Cal had the 26-14 lead with nine minutes to go. Gray (11) and Boyd (10) had 21 of Cal’s 26
Gray then picked up her second foul on a bad screen, exiting
the game at the 9:00 mark. Boyd joined her on the bench also with two fouls, as
Gottlieb continued to look at different combinations on the floor, sending out
senior Brittany Shine along with sophomores Jefflo and Courtney Range and
freshmen Gabby Green and Mikayla Cowling. Range became the focal point on
offense, scoring six quick points, extending Cal’s lead to 35-21 with six
minutes left before the break.
With just under four minutes to play, Green picked up her
second foul on a charge, but Gottlieb elected to keep her in the game to run
With Penina Davidson in, the Bears found her repeatedly inside, but Davidson
missed multiple bunnies. On one of her misses, she grabbed the offensive
rebound and found Range for her second three-pointer of the game. Range would
close out Cal’s scoring for the half with a free-throw and a basket inside off
a pretty feed by Green, and Cal had its largest lead of the game, 41-24, at the
Gray picked up her third foul on Cal’s first possession in
the second half, fighting off a triple team. Hailie Eackles attacked the lane
on the other end and with her runner became the first Tiger in double-figures
scoring. Gottlieb called a quick time-out, but kept Gray in the game. The
gamble did not pay off, as Gray got whistled for her fourth infraction
Cal lost focus, throwing sloppy passes and failing to box
out. Eackles found herself wide open as a trailer and hit a three. Kristina
Johnson’s two free-throws completed the 9-2 Tiger run, and Pacific was within
Justine Hartman shoved Majorie Heard to the ground while
fighting for a rebound and was called for a flagrant foul. Heard missed both
free-throws, but on the ensuing offensive possession, she gathered the
offensive rebound and put in a short jumper.
Still, the Tigers never could cut the lead into single
digit. Range scored inside and Green went coast-to-coast to keep Pacific at
Pacific hit consecutive treys, but Mikayla Cowling countered
with two outside jumpers, including a three. Cowling then drove straight down
the lane for another basket, and Cal’s lead was 56-43 with 13 minutes to play.
Cal’s defense then clamped down. Boyd stole the ball and hit
a fast-break basket. She then cut off Eackles on the drive and Eackles threw away
the ball to Jefflo, leading to a three-point play for Range on the other end.
Cowling challenged Eackles’s shot at the rim and is rewarded on the other end
when Green found her for an open three. All of sudden, Cal’s lead was up to
64-43 with 10:30 to go, putting the game effectively out of reach.
Reshanda Gray returned and quickly scored four more points.
Boyd then fouled out, allowing Green more extended time running the team.
Cowling scored another seven points to close the game, and
Range hit another three to punctuate her stellar evening, and Cal had its first
victory of the 2014-15 season.
The Bears will next face Nevada in their home opener,
Tuesday, November 18. Tip off is at 7:00pm.