Cal (16-7, 4-7
Pac-12), which had lost seven of their last nine games, regained their early-season form
on offense, with five players scoring in double-figures. Kristine Anigwe, Mikayla Cowling, and
Mi’Cayton each had 18, while Courtney Range and Asha Thomas contributed 15 and
played their tails off tonight,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “From
Sunday, when we were at the bottom [after the loss to Washington State], to
here, our players have been locked in. We were able to weather storms and great
plays by UCLA.”
second start of her career, freshman Mi’Cole Cayton sparked Cal right off the bat,
scoring 11 of the Bears’ first 16 points. The Bears then withstood a furious
third quarter run by UCLA and held on for the win.
Canada had a tough shooting night (7 of 24, 29%), as Cal held UCLA to 34% from
the field. The Bruins (17-5, 8-3 Pac-12) made up the difference by making 23 of
24 free-throws, with Canada perfect on 12 attempts.
The two teams
set a furious pace to start the game, resulting in a bunch of wild shots and
turnovers. Cal finally got on the board courtesy of Cayton,
who scored on a two-on-one break.
hit while double-teamed and despite the foul. She converted the three-point
Cayton hit a
three and then attacked the basket to earn a three-point play of her own.
Courtney Range scored on a putback, and then Cayton hit another three, giving
Cal the 16-0 start and prompting a time-out from UCLA, halfway through the
[the defense] gave me, and my teammates did a hell of a job pushing the ball up
the court every time,” said Cayton. “We knew that running in transition was the
thing to do. That was what we worked on all week.”
“The number one
thing was the energy that she brings,” said Gottlieb of Cayton's insertion as a starter. “Her ability to
help us push in transition, and that allowed us to put Courtney at the four,
where she could do some damage.”
Range had a game-high 12 rebounds and added three blocked shots.
“It was time for
us veteran players to step up and make plays and help give more to the team,”
missed their first eight attempts, and Kennedy Burke finally broke the string
with a drive. Jordin Canada followed with two free-throws. Kelli Hayes hit a
midrange jumper, and that was all UCLA could muster offensively in the first 10
Range took a
steal coast to coast, and Cowling’s drive closed the quarter, with Cal up
20-6. The Bears committed five
turnovers, but compensated by owning the glass with a 13-7 advantage.
underneath to open the second, and UCLA responded with six straight points as
the Bears began to throw the ball away.
Range scored to help
slow UCLA’s momentum, and then her hustle to grab an offensive board earned Cal
another chance. The Bears converted the opportunity into a three by Asha
Thomas. Cal continued to attack, with Thomas finding Cowling ahead of
everyone for the lay-in, and Cal led 29-14, with 4:32 to go in the second.
scored twice in the paint, but Anigwe matched her with two baskets of her
continued to turn Cal over, and four consecutive free-throws helped the Bruins close
the gap to 33-22.
Range scored on
short jumper, and Cayton closed her stellar half (13 points) with a decisive
baseline drive, and the Bears were again up by 15.
free-throws by Canada closed the half; the point guard hit all eight of her
attempts from the line to help offset her 10 misses from the field.
UCLA edged Cal
18-17 in the second period, but trailed the Bears 37-24 at the half.
UCLA opened the
third with a 12-0 run, powered by aggressive drives to the hoop that resulted
again in free-throws, closing the gap to 37-34.
The Bears did
not help themselves, with missed shots and mishandled passes compounding their
problems on the defensive end.
hit for Cal, knocking down a long jumper, for Cal’s first points of the third, at
the 5:14 mark.
But UCLA would
not be stopped. Burke’s baseline jumper gave the Bruins their first lead of the
game, 40-39, with 4:43 to play in the third.
Cal came back,
led by Courtney Range. The senior hit two free throws, then locked down on
defense, blocking UCLA on consecutive possessions. Cowling scored twice on the
other end, and Cal edged back ahead 45-40.
“We knew that
they weren’t going to go away,” said Range of the Bruins.
aggressive drive by Cowling, followed by two baskets by Thomas, including a
corner three, and Cal was back up 54-46, with under two minutes to go in the quarter.
The Bears played
tough defense for the rest of the period and held the
55-48 lead to enter the fourth.
“In some ways,
the end [of the third] was the most significant part of the game,” said
Gottlieb of the way the Bears came back after giving up the lead. “We never
lost our mojo with it. We’ve been asking our veteran kids to step up, and they
Anigwe put back
a Cayton miss to open the fourth, and the Bears stretched the lead to 59-48
when Cayton converted on a 3-on-2 break.
The two teams
then went toe-to-toe in a terrific display of athleticism and will. The Bears
got hot from the field, only to find UCLA matching them shot for shot. Thomas hit two threes, but Kari Korver hit
two bombs of her own for UCLA. Still, when Range scored on a fastbreak, Cal had the
75-64 lead with 2:13 to go.
“We made our own
breaks down the stretch,” said Gottlieb.
But the Bears
have shown this season that they have trouble closing games. As with nearly every Pac-12 foe
the Bears have faced this season, UCLA came back.
twice from distance but the Bears could not secure the rebound, and given a
third try, Burke hit a three to close it to 75-68. Cal turned the ball over on
the inbound, and Monique Billings hit a jumper from the elbow, and UCLA was
within 75-70, with a minute to play.
UCLA sent Cal to
the line, and Cowling sank both.
right back, and her three-point play closed the gap to 77-73.
The Bears once
again struggled to enter the ball, and UCLA earned possession on a held ball.
Canada knocked down a wing j, and the game was within one possession, 77-75,
with 45 seconds still left on the clock.
her last time out to steady her troops and to move the ball to the other end.
The Bears ran down the shot clock, and Range missed her drive. But Asha Thomas
snuck in for the rebound, and the diminutive point guard quickly found Anigwe
inside for a score. Anigwe was fouled on the shot, and the sophomore hit the
free-throw to give Cal the 80-75 lead with 14 seconds to play.
Canada missed a
three, but Cal was called for a foul underneath, giving Nicole Kornet two
free-throws. She hit both, and UCLA was once again within a basket, 80-77.
Cal managed to
get the ball to Anigwe, and she was fouled. But Anigwe missed both, giving UCLA
once last chance, with seven seconds to go, plenty of time for someone like
Canada. The Bruin star hoisted up a three, but the shot was just off, and Cal
want to have fun, try winning. That’s fun,’” said Gottlieb at the beginning of
the postgame press conference, quoting and paying homage to Stanford’s Tara
VanDerveer, who won the 1000th game on this night.
celebrated Chinese New Year at the game, with a lion dance and videos featuring
sophomore center Chen Yue.