is an excellent team,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “They're so
well-coached—I think Bonnie Henrickson is one of the best coaches around. They
came in here and made a lot of shots. They made plays, played well and made it
tough on us. Our players responded. This was a quintessential Cal win.
Different people stepped up in different moments. We challenged them at
different points to do things better, and I thought they all responded to that.
That shows the growth of our team.”
Senior Layshia Clarendon scored 28 points to
help Cal withstand every charge from a determined Kansas squad.
“Her pace and her ability to make a play
one-on-one,” said Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson. “I thought she was
really impressive. She had great offensive possessions for them. Both teams had
really special point guards, and both teams had really good bigs. The
difference-make was number 23.”
“Can’t be more proud of her,” Gottlieb said
about Clarendon. “Layshia missed a couple of shots early, and I said to the
staff, ‘Layshia is going to have to make some shots tonight,’ and all of a
sudden, she goes 11 of 19. When the game is on the line, when big-time games
are here, there’s not a guard better in the country at making big shots.”
Four other players joined Clarendon on
double-figure scoring: Gennifer Brandon (17), Reshanda Gray (13), Talia
Caldwell (12), and Afure Jemerigbe (10). Caldwell made all five of her
attempts, as the Bears hit 55.4% (36 of 65) of their field goal attempts,
compensating for a poor night at the free-throw line (12 of 24).
Kansas also shared the ball, with Angel
Goodrich leading the way with 21 points. Fellow All-American Carolyn Davis put
up 16, and Natalie Knight and Chelsea Gardner had 13 and 12 respectively. †As a team, Kansas made half of their shots.
But as with most Cal’s opponents, the
Jayhawks could not compete on the glass. No Jayhawk had more than five. By
contrast, Brandon grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bears (9 in the second half), as
Cal dominated the rebounding battle 40 to 27.
just very fortunate to have post players that have tremendous instincts to the
ball,” said Gottlieb. “They're relentless and love rebounding. It's really just
a great kind of staple of our team. Once its' part of the identity, they really
love it and own it. They take pride in it. I can't take any credit other than
building them up and saying go get that ball.”
on film, and being here live, it’s who they’ve been all year,” said Henrickson
of Cal. “Their effort on the offensive glass, and second-chance points. When we
turned it over, they made us pay and pushed in transition and got
After four consecutive games away from Haas, the
Bears got off to a slow start, falling behind 8-4 a minute and a half into the
game. Kansas got two quick threes from Natalie Knight sandwiched around an
inside score by Carolyn Davis. Considering that Knight came into the game shooting
only 28% from distance, Gottlieb had to quickly burn a timeout. †
“I didn’t think our press was as effective as
it could be,” said Gottlieb. “We left her wide open, and she knocked them down.
We knew we wanted to help off to discourage passed into the post, and then
recover, but not to leave anyone wide open. So just to re-focus on getting
Over the next three plus minutes, Cal went on
11-0 run. Talia Caldwell started things off by putting back a Brittany Boyd
miss. A trey by Jemerigbe grabbed the Bears the lead at 9-8. Consecutive drives
by Clarendon and Boyd and another lay-up by Caldwell brought Cal to a 15-8.
Kansas fought back. Carolyn Davis hit two
quick baskets, followed by a Goodrich step-back three and a drive by Monica
Engelman. With 9:48 left in the half, back up Chelsea Gardner’s putback tied
the game at 19.
Cal pushed ahead, but Kansas would repeatedly
close to within one possession, buoyed by good shooting, including four of five
from beyond the arc.† At the 5:15 mark,
Davis hit a baseline jumper, and the Jayhawks again were threatening to take
the lead, down only 32-12.
But the Bears closed the half on a 12-4 run,
with Clarendon and Boyd taking turns scoring. For the half, Clarendon had 16
points, and Boyd’s eight helped stake Cal to a 42-35 lead.
Monica Engelman swished two jumpers and
assisted on another basket to start the second half, and the Jayhawks pulled to
with 48-46 on another three by Knight, with 2:18 elapsed in the second half.
thought their role players stepped up,” said Gottlieb, taking note of Engelman,
Knight, and Gardner. “This team was in the Sweet 16 last year. They know how to
win games, and it was a good test for us.”
Henrickson had a different perspective,
thinking that her team did not look for Davis enough. “I thought that Carolyn
really worked to try and get the ball. I thought we did not throw it to her
enough. If I had the ball, I would have thrown it to her. †I’ll probably throw up when I watch it, how
many times we missed her.”
Brandon then intercepted a bad pass and took
it herself three-quarters of the court on a one-on-three break, pulling up in
the paint and knocking down a soft jumper. The play was emblematic of the whole
game: Cal had a response every time Kansas threatened, often by using their
superior quickness and athleticism to get high-percentage shots inside the
paint. †Cal would finish the game with a
64-30 advantage in points in the paint.
“I was just telling the girls, ‘Weather the
storm,’” said Clarendon. “Talia kept telling us, ‘One stop at a time.’”
Still, Kansas was still within 65-62 with
8:18 to play. Cal made its final assault, again going inside. With both Chelsea
Gardner and Carolyn Davis in foul trouble, Kansas had no answer.
“It killed us to have Gardner in foul
trouble,” said Henrickson. “We wanted to play big-big against their big-big. We
got production out of Chelsey, but just enough minutes.”
Jemerigbe had a great stretch, racing ahead
on the fastbreak, and staying active even after missed shots to finish. Brandon
and Gray also had their way inside, spinning around their defenders who knew
they could not foul. And of course, when the Bears needed the dagger,
Clarendon, who was able to create how own shot all night, simply dribbled down
the shot clock and hit yet another jumper. It was impressive to watch the Bears
methodically take over the end of the game. Cal’s largest lead of the contest (88-76)
would come with 22 ticks left on the clock.
“I thought that was one the best games that
we moved the ball, for a while,” said Clarendon, sharing the credit. “We got
them to chase the ball a little bit in that zone. When you get moving, it’s hard
to close out on quick guards like Afure, myself, and Boyd.”
“When you play a team of this caliber on the
road, you’ve got to be able to limit a run, and to answer a run,” said
Henrickson. “And we didn’t.”
Cal’s win was the first over a top-25 team at
Haas since January 2009.
“Everything happens in the time it’s supposed
to happen,” said Gottlieb. “We could have upset Ohio State last year, but it
would have been an upset. We took care of Georgetown, a team that was floating
in the top 25 for a little bit. Here, this felt like a game that we could win
at home, and we got the job done. So it doesn’t seem bigger than that. It just
seems that this is a team that has progressed in the way that I hope we would.
It was a big time game in our gym, and we came out and did what we needed to
do, and we won.”
The Bears will next take on George Washington
on Friday, December 28, to close out the non-conference slate.
∑† † † Attendance for the game was
3,009. Gottlieb appreciated the support: “I'm so excited about the atmosphere in this
building. I talk a lot about trying to build one of the nation's elite
programs, and we can't do it without our fans. I thought it was electric in
here tonight, which really helped us.”†
∑After sitting out the
Northwestern game, Eliza Pierre returned to the court. In 15 minutes, she
contributed three assists and two rebounds.
Cal’s work on the offensive
glass led to a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points.