Cal Basketball

Cal Edges St. Mary's in OT, 81-78

December 8, 2018

Moraga, CA--The No. 13 California Golden Bears were pushed to the limit, coming back from a 15-point third quarter deficit before winning beating St. Mary’s 81-78 in overtime.

“Down 15, I wasn’t sure we were going to win, because we hadn’t been here yet,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “This was a good basketball team, and you can’t give them a 15 point cushion. The fact that we did, and we were able to fight back... I believe so strongly in this team, but to see it, under adversity, was pretty special.”

Kristine Anigwe overcame a tough-shooting game to score 24 points, including the basket that tied the game in regulation. Receé Caldwell played all 45 minutes, scoring 20. Asha Thomas had 11, and Kianna Smith had 12, including five in overtime.

“They played us different today; they played a sagging man,” said Caldwell. “And I know that to be effective, all of our guards needed to get downhill, really to create plays for others. And if it’s a one on one battle, I think I can get a bucket.”

CJ West came off the bench to collect 12 points and 15 boards, helping Cal to edge St. Mary’s on the glass, 49-46.

St. Mary’s was led by Emily Codding’s 26 points and five assists. Sydney Raggio had 17 rebounds.

The Bears stay perfect on the season at 8-0. St. Mary’s drops to 5-3, with all three losses to Pac-12 opponents (Oregon State, Oregon).

St. Mary’s came out attacking, hitting three quick baskets to lead 6-2. 

Sydney Raggio and Megan McKay overpowered the Bears down low, forcing Cal to go big, bringing CJ West to play alongside Kristine Anigwe. 

The Gaels responded by spreading the floor, with all five players camped around the perimeter. The stretched Cal defense had a hard time closing out on shooters, and Emily Codding knocked down consecutive threes to extend the Gael lead to 16-8.

Cal came back with their own attack, with baskets from West and Kianna Smith. Two free throws from Anigwe pulled Cal within 19-17.

St. Mary’s dominated the glass and benefitted from second chance opportunities, twice converting offensive rebounds into threes. 

Kristine Anigwe was fouled at the end of quarter buzzer, and she hit one free throw to pull Cal with 25-22. 

St. Mary’s hit five threes in the first quarter.

The Gaels then attacked the paint to open the second, using mismatches and cuts to create hig-percentage shots.

Recee Caldwell knocked down a step-back three and a runner to help Cal keep pace. Kianna Smith turned a steal into a pull-up on the other end, and the Bears tied the game at 29, prompting a Gael time-out, with 6:28 on the clock.

Thomas attacked down the middle and earned two free-throws, giving the Bears their first lead of the game. St. Mary’s came right back with consecutive baskets, tying the game at 34.

Cal tightened up on defense, forcing turnovers on consecutive possessions. The Bears also did a better job on the defensive glass, allowing St. Mary’s only one attempt per possession.

“CJ was an absolute hero with her ability to come in and clean up possessions,” said Gottlieb. “Raggio likes to get her own miss. So she would miss one, and CJ would get the rebound. And CJ did a lot of damage on the offensive glass.”

Raggio showed off her stellar footwork down low and scored consecutive baskets to help St. Mary’s regain the lead. But Anigwe converted on a three point play and another basket to close the period, knotting the score at 41 after one half of play.

Anigwe and Caldwell each had 10 for Cal, while Codding led St. Mary’s with 11.

St. Mary’s opened the third with a 13-0 run, showing off all their weapons. McKay scored over Anigwe inside, Codding hit a three, and Raggio overpowered Brown to earn a three-point play. The Gaels’ early offense got Cal scrambling, resulting in a basket by Claire Ferguson and another three by Codding. Bears called time, down 54-41, with five minutes elapsed in the period.

Cal finally scored on Anigwe’s putback off a missed free-throw. 

Two more baskets by Codding kept St. Mary’s lead at 15.

With Anigwe bottled up inside, West hit a basket and two free-throws to keep the Bears afloat.

Cal closed the third with a 6-0 run. Anigwe knocked down a putback and a free-throw, and Caldwell hit a three, and Cal was within 62-55.

Asha Thomas went around an Anigwe screen and hit an athletic up and under shot to open the final period. Caldwell also attacked the paint and earned two free throws. Another Caldwell drive resulted in a pretty reverse and three-point play, and Cal was within 64-62.

St. Mary’s scored twice down low to stay ahead. 

The Bears created multiple open threes, but were unable to knock them down.

With four minutes to play, Cal was down 70-64.

Consecutive scores down low by Anigwe and West closed the gap to within 70-68.

Cal was still down by two when Anigwe poked away the ball on defense and earned a trip to the line on the other end. She hit the back end, and Cal was within 72-71.

St. Mary’s turned the ball over on an offensive foul, and Cal had the ball with 29 seconds to play. The Bears went to Anigwe, but the senior was unable to hit a contested shot inside with 15 seconds to go.

With 10.5 left, Taycee Wedin went to the line, hitting one.

Cal called time to draw up one last play and to advance the ball. 

Asha Thomas received the ball on the inbound, and she drove down the middle. The defense collapsed, and Thomas found Anigwe on the left block with a perfect pass. Anigwe scored to tie the game at 73, with two seconds to go.

“It was an incredible dime,” said Gottlieb. “We had a lob look to Kristine. And I said to them, ‘If the lob look is there, we go with it. And if it’s not, I want an isolated ball screen with either Receé or Asha, whoever is open. How many coaches can say that, right, that you can give it to a number of guards? Kristine sets a really good screen, rolls hard, and Teezy dropped a ridiculous pass there. It was a terrific basketball play.”

On the other end, Raggio only managed a low-percentage three attempt that missed, and the teams prepared for overtime.

The Bears built on the momentum to open the extra period. Doubled down low, Anigwe stayed calm and whipped a pass to the opposite corner, where Kianna Smith was waiting. The sophomore hit the three, giving Cal the early lead. 

After Codding scored a layup, Smith responded with one of her own, keeping Cal ahead 78-75.

Three Bears hit the floor in a mad scramble for the ball, and Cal earned the possession with 47.5 to go. But after video review, St. Mary’s was awarded the ball. The call was that the shot clock had expired (shot did not hit the rim) before Cal gained possession and called time.

St. Mary’s made it pay off. Raggio was pinned down low, but she managed to find a cutting Codding, who was fouled. Codding split her free-throws, and the Gaels were within 78-76.

Forced to foul, St. Mary’s sent Caldwell to the line, and she hit both.

After Codding scored again, Asha Thomas made one of two free-throws, and the Bears’ lead was 81-78, giving the Gaels one final chance to tie, with 18 seconds to play.

The Bears played terrific defense, enveloping Raggio at the top of the key and denying every pass. St. Mary’s finally got a shot off, but it was from center Claire Ferguson, and the shot never had a chance. Thomas secured her eighth rebound and the Bears secured the win.

“As a team, this was important,” said Caldwell. “To come to somebody else’s place and win on the road through adversity.”


Asha Thomas played 38 minutes, a game after she had a scary fall. Thomas said that while she and the team feared the worst after she went down--“I was really scared; we weren’t sure of how bad it was”--things were better by the next day. “I was sore, but I was OK.”

“Teezy, she’s the heart and soul of our team,” said Caldwell. “She just gives everything to our team.”

Mi’Cole Cayton shared that she expects to be out for the foreseeable future. Her knee swelled up after the trip to San Diego, and the doctors pulled her. She had a recent MRI and is now awaiting results.

Jim McGill contributed to this story.


Discussion from...

Cal Edges St. Mary's in OT, 81-78

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Too bad about Cayton.

St. Mary's always plays us tough. They beat us at our house several years ago. And we never rout them.

I saw Raggio play in High School. For St. Ignatious. Against St. Mary's of Stockton at the Jamboree I think And I think i posted here that St. Mary's was getting a fine player.
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Great game and big turnout of Cal fans in Moraga! Bear Territory!

Let's hope Mi'Cole is able to play once conference season starts. Any word on Sara's status?
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