Photo by calbears.com
Cal Basketball

Bears Down Toreros 89-64

December 7, 2017
1,051

 

The California Golden Bears (6-2) rode a hot-shooting night to beat San Diego 89-64. Cal hit 69% of their shot attempts and led from start to finish.

"I'm proud of the good win," said California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "This team continues to develop in a lot of different ways. We had intensity the entire game, and we were efficient on offense."

Kristine Anigwe had a game-high 26, and Asha Thomas and Penina Davidson each scored 13. The Bears had 23 assists, with Kianna Smith leading the way with seven.

Sydney Williams led San Diego (5-4) with 18, and leading scorer Aubrey Ward-El had 14, but on five of 14 shooting.

Gottlieb earned her 200th win as a head coach; 144 of those victories have come at Cal.

"The number of wins is fun, but mostly, the ride is about the people you do it with," said Gottlieb. "It's fun to be with this group every day, because they're really committed to getting better."

"It's always really special to be a part of anything with Lindsay, because she's family," said Anigwe. 

"It's fun to be a part of her journey," agreed Thomas.

Penina Davidson opened the scoring with a putback on Cal’s first possession. San Diego responded immediately with aggressive play, going hard to the basket and crashing the offensive glass to earn fouls and score on their first two trips on offense to keep pace.

San Diego’s full-court pressure gave the Bears momentary trouble, causing an early turnover, but San Diego was unable to convert it into points.

Kristine Anigwe scored inside to break the tie, followed by an Asha Thomas three and a drive by Kianna Smith, and Cal’s 11-4 lead forced a Torero time out.

San Diego patiently executed their offense for high-percentage shots, scoring on three consecutive possessions.

Cal focused on getting the ball to Anigwe, who dominated with four baskets inside. Jaelyn Brown came off the bench to score two quick baskets and the Bears ended the first period up 25-16.

In the first 10 minutes of play, the Bears hit 12 of 16 attempts (75%).

Cal opened the second period with a couple turnovers, and San Diego pounced, whittling the lead to 27-23 on a jumper by Maya Hood.

Anigwe scored through a double team, and after a stagnant offensive possession that went nowhere, a step back three by Thomas cured all ills and edged Cal back up 32-23.

Anigwe got stripped going to the basket, and she compounded the mistake by reaching and committing her second foul. With her out of the game, Cal’s offense bogged down, and Gottlieb quickly re-inserted the junior. Anigwe immediately got herself to the line, knocking down both, giving the Bears their first double digit lead.

Kianna Smith twice drove to the basket, drawing the help defense and then dishing to a teammate, and her five assists in the half helped keep Cal ahead 41-31 at intermission.

"She makes a lot of our jobs easier," said Thomas of Smith. "She knows where to get the ball. She can create off the dribble. She can score. She's very good."

The Bears continued the hot-shooting (68%), but their 10 turnovers and seven offensive rebounds kept the lead from being larger than it was.

"When people pressure, they have to give something else up," said Gottlieb. "So we felt like with Kristine and all of our post players, if you're going to pressure us in the front court and we're going to get one-on-one touches, we have a really good group. Kristine, Nina, and CJ went 21 for 25."

Cal turned the tables at the start of the second half, forcing three turnovers, along with a missed shot, in the Toreros’ first four possessions.

Kianna Smith scored on a drive, and her tap-out on a rebound propelled Mikayla Cowling to a breakaway lay-up.  Cowling then found Thomas on a quick outlet pass, and before the defense could set, Thomas heaved in a three, and the Bears were up 48-31 at the the 7:42 mark.

San Diego fought back, with their strong guards attacking off the dribble. Two free throws by Aubrey Ward-El narrowed the Cal lead to 50-39.

Consecutive scores by Sara Anastasieska helped the Bears win the quarter and earn the 61-46 lead.

CJ West scored thrice to open the fourth, but a three by Ward-El and a three-point play by Patricia Brossmann gave San Diego some life, down 67-54.

The Torero pressure began to take its toll, and the Bears struggled to advance the ball, committing the 10-second violation. It was the Bears’ 17 turnover of the night, but it was also Cal’s last, as the team did not have another give-away for final eight minutes of the game.

"We just didn't want to turn the ball over," said Thomas. "It was simple as that. Just being efficient, knowing where to get the ball, knowing where to be. Each player knowing what position they need to be in."

"This is a pressure team," said Gottlieb of San Diego.  "And we had to catch our breath a little bit early on, but then were were really efficient."

Anigwe’s turnaround jumper and a three-point play by Smith ignited another Cal run. Davidson then shut the door with a score inside, followed by a three from the top of the key. The lead ballooned to 22, and Cal coasted home.

With the bench emptied, Anastasieska and Mo Mosley took turns showing off their skills, taking turns ball-hawking on one end and bulling their way to the basket on the other.

"Our bench is doing a great job," said Gottlieb, pointing out that her subs finished out with a 28-point fourth quarter. "Whoever we put in understood what we were trying to do."

The Bears closed the game with another 75% shooting quarter, and Cal looks like a team full of confidence and getting better.

"What we're learning is that whatever teams throw at us, we have enough; we are enough," said Gottlieb. "Whereas past times, we'd be, "Let's hope we make shots; let's hope we finish.' Now I expect us to finish layups and hold seals and make really tough plays. We're working harder and are more focused--that will to want to do it right every time, not just once every three times. We know this team was capable of it, but it took us being punched a couple of times by teams for us to say, 'No no, we can be the aggressors.'"

 

NOTES:

  • Cal's 69.1% shooting fell just shy of the program record (69.3%)
  • Gottlieb's first win as a head coach also came against San Diego, when she at the helm at UC Santa Barbara

 

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