Photo by Cal Athletics

Bears Routed by WSU, 96-75

January 5, 2020
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Playing their worst stretch of basketball of the season, the California Golden Bears fell down big early and never could recover, falling to the Washington State Cougars, 96-75.

Cal got blitzed 31-6 in the first quarter and never made it a competitive game.

“We ran into something, boy, that first quarter,” said Cal head coach Charmin Smith. “I’m still trying to figure out what it was. It was a rough start for us. It was a hole that was too deep to get out of.”

The Bear defense could do nothing to Washington State, who shot 62% for the game. Chanelle Molina dominated every part of the game, notching a near triple-double with 28 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds. Borislava Hristova had 26 points and Ula Motuga contributed 11. The Cougars’ efficient offense generated 27 assists.

The Cougars won the game in the first quarter, outscoring the Bears 31-6.

Jaelyn Brown had 20 points, and Evelien Lutje Schipholt scored 15 to go with eight rebounds. 

Bears are 8-5 and 0-2 in conference. WSU wins its first Pac-12 game (1-2) and are 7-7 overall.

 

 

Washington State scored three straight baskets to open the game, taking the ball deep into the paint each time against the soft Cal defense.

Charmin Smith called time, but Cal continued to flail on both ends, adding errant passes to missed uncontested shots.

Two free throws by Hristova stretched the Cougar lead to 12-0.

Jaelyn Brown finally got Cal on the board with a three. It would be Cal’s only basket on their first 12 shots.

“We couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Smith. “We’ve had our struggles as of late trying to put the ball in the basket. We missed a lot of point-blank layups that I know we’re capable of making.”

Cal continued to look befuddled on defense, helping off shooters. Washington State proceeded to hit 10 of its first 11 attempts en route to a 24-3 lead. 

Jazlen Green hit Cal’s second basket, driving the baseline for a tough finish. But Cal would miss their next 10 attempts.

Washington State continued to play near-flawless basketball. The Cougars finished the first period hitting 13 of 16 shots from the floor (including a missed last-second halfcourt heave) with eight assists to only one turnover. WSU led 31-6.

“They went 81% from the field,” said Lutje Schipholt. “That’s unreal.”

“A lot of people can’t shoot 81% wide open, just volume shots,” said Smith. “They were shooting that with five people of the court trying to guard. Early on we gave them some open looks that then made the basket really big. For a player like Molina and [Hristova], you give them open looks early on, it’s going to be a rough night. And then it got contagious and it went on to everyone on the court.”

A steal and a block resulted in two more WSU buckets, and the lead ballooned to 40-8. Cal’s cold shooting continued into a two for 23 start to the game.

The Bears tried to mix it up on defense, with a full-court press and a zone in the halfcourt. But the Cougars were always a step ahead with their disciplined execution. And when the offense broke down, they could always count on the individual brilliance of Chanelle Molina, who hit nine of her first 11 shots, helping WSU to 84% shooting and a 50-14 lead with four minutes to go in the second quarter.

“Molina is a special player,” said Smith. “She’s really really good. I have a lot of respect for her. And she showed why.”

Evelien Lutje Schipholt finally hit Cal’s third basket of the game, on a third-chance putback.

Playing against WSU’s reserves, the Bears finally found some life, clamping down on defense with timely traps and rotations. On the other end, the Bears scored on six consecutive possessions, and the 12-2 run pulled Cal within 52-26. 

After two Molina free-throws, the Bears raced downcourt with nine seconds left. Leilani McIntosh drove and found Cailyn Crocker in the corner, and the frosh connection paid off with the three. At the half, the Bears were down 54-29.

Even with the late flurry of offensive output, the Bears shot 26% (nine of 35) for the half.

The Bears opened the third period on fire. CJ West found Sara Anastasieska and Jaelyn Brown on consecutive cuts to the basket. Alaysia Styles then scored twice inside, igniting the crowd. Brown hit a long jumper, and McIntosh converted a steal into a breakaway layup. The 12-0 run chopped the lead to 54-41, with seven minutes to go in the third.

“We were much better in making adjustments, and it allowed us to get some steals, some easy baskets, to get us going offensively,” said Smith.

WSU came back with firepower of their own. Over the next three and a half minutes, the Cougars hit six of their next seven shots, including a three from Chanelle Molina and four buckets from Hristova. The final one was a three-point play, and Washington State built the lead back to 70-46.

Turnovers and fouls plagued the last few minutes of the third, and it ended with Cougars up 76-52. 

Brown scored six straight points for the Bears to open the fourth, but that only helped Cal keep pace, as Washington found open shots.

Lutje Schipholt continued to fight, making her presence felt inside the paint, scoring seven points in the first six minutes of the fourth.

Two free throws by Cailyn Crocker got the lead down below 20, but the Bears could never make more headway, and the Cougars closed out the dominant performance.

“I’m still proud of the team and the fight that we did,” said Smith. “Just stuck together in a really tough time.”

“We’re just playing for each other at this point,” said Jaelyn Brown. “It starts off the court. We’re all family. We’re all together. That will help us moving forward, even with tough losses, even with adversity when it comes. It’s all about what we’re doing for each other at the end of the day.”

 

The Bears end the 9-game home stand and now face their toughest stretch of games, facing Stanford (twice) and Oregon State and Oregon. All three are ranked in the top-5 in the country.

“Catch us on our best night, we’ve shown we can play with anyone,” said Smith. “We know that it’s gotta be our best night for what’s coming. But it needed to be our best night tonight. There are no easy games in this conference.”

 

Tags: WBB
Discussion from...

Bears Routed by WSU, 96-75

1,955 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by pearbear
HoopDreams
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well, having not seen the game, and only seeing the box score, story and posts here, I can't say too much with knowledge

but I do know that sometimes a player or a team just go into a zone, and everything drops

That's especially possible if the player is very good

sometimes when it happens, even the player themselves are shaking their heads because everything works for them

Not an excuse, and this result is alarming, but I have seen it, so I think we don't need to panic yet
pearbear
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Yes, Chanelle Molina is a very good player. She has really improved over the years. Plays under control.

But Cal also gave up 26 points to Hristova. She too is good, and both she and Molina really square up on shots, so they always look like they're going in.

So it's not surprising for either player to score 25+. But when two players go off on you AND the opponent as a team shoot 60% for the game...

I think Charmin knows that her current team is not strong defensively, so the plan is to execute on offense and outscore the other team. To this end, I think the offense has been a pleasant surprise. But it's conference play now. Every team will be prepped and ready for your tendencies. And the Bears cannot keep missing open shots and still hope to have a chance in games. I mean, everyone's mechanics just went to hell against WSU.

These next four games will show a lot. Results aside (Bears will be massive underdogs in all games), I will be interested to see how this team weathers tough stretches and plays up to their potential. I'd want them to be better by the end of this stretch, even if they lose all four games. And yes, that includes Smith and Co. having the team more prepared mentally at the beginning of games.

GO BEARS!
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