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Cal Women's Basketball

Bears Lose Heartbreaker in Overtime to #23 Gonzaga

December 7, 2023

HAAS PAVILION -    The #23 Bulldogs came to Berkeley sky high after a surprising 96-78 win over 3# Stanford on Sunday. The Bears gave them all they could handle and more but ultimately fell in overtime in a heartbreaking 78-70 loss in Berkeley.

“I thought we played really heard,” head coach Charmin Smith said after the game. “We did a lot of things well and set ourselves up with the opportunity to win the game but we came up short. 

“It’s frustrating because it’s something we really wanted but we’ve just got to keep working hard and get back at it.”

The Bears somehow managed to lead throughout most of the first quarter despite giving up an alarming nine offensive rebounds and being outrebounded overall, 18-9 but the Bulldogs were unable to make them pay, only converting on two second-chance points in the opening stanza, with the Bears finishing on top, 17-13. The Bears also had a stellar quarter taking care of the ball with no turnovers as did point guard Leilani McIntosh with a trey and 3-for-3 from the line. The Bears had a chance to take a bigger lead but missed several layups during the quarter. McIntosh had a double-double on the night, going for 13 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.

Gonzaga continued to crash the boards in the second quarter but strong ball defense limited the Bulldogs to just 26% from the floor in the half. 5 straight points from center Ila Lane on a pair of layups and an and-1 on the next possession momentarily gave the Bears their largest lead at 9 points but after forcing a miss with the clock counting down, the Bulldogs secured another offensive board and guard Kaylynne Truong made them pay with a 3 at the buzzer, narrowing the Bears’ lead to 6 at 34-28 heading into the locker room.

The Bulldogs wasted no time finding their rhythm in the second half, tying the game just two minutes into the quarter on a Brynna Maxwell 3 and forging ahead two minutes later on a Maxwell jumper to go up 42-40 with 5:49 left in the quarter. While the Bears had them out of sync most of the first half, all the Bulldogs early third quarter buckets came in rhythm, hitting 6 of their first 7 shots. After falling behind by 4, the Bears closed out the quarter on a high note on a buzzer-beating 3 from forward Marta Suarez. Suarez would lead the Bears on the night with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Gonzaga went up 4 to start the quarter on a Maxwell trey but the Bears fought back to tie it with 5:13 remaining on a Lulu Laditan-Twidale 3 and a pair of Lane free throws. A minute later, the Bears took their first lead since early in the half on another Laditan-Twidale 3, 55-54.

A shaky officiating call where McIntosh appeared to be hacked on a pass resulted in a backcourt violation with Gonzaga taking immediate advantage with another Maxwell 3 plus a free throw and-1 to retake the lead. Another Laditan-Twidale 3 pushed the Bears ahead again at 60-58 with 3:08 remaining.

When center Michelle Onyaih fouled out with 1:45 remaining, the Bulldogs retook the lead on a Calli Stokes free throw.

With the clock ticking down on their next possession after almost suffering a disastrous turnover on the inbounds pass, McIntosh took a pass from Lane and hit a crucial 3 at the possession clock buzzer to go up 2 but a Stokes layup tied the game with a minute left.

McIntosh was fouled on the next possession but calmly hit both free throws to put the Bears back up 2 at 65-63 with :52 remaining. On the ensuing possession, it looked like the Bears would get the ball back with a rebound off Gonzaga but the Bulldogs got the call and possession. They took advantage with a Truong jumper to tie it with :31 remaining.

The Bears played for the final shot on the possession but ran too much clock, with McIntosh trying to get off an off-balance shot with a second left but what looked like a foul was called a jump ball as the game headed into overtime without their starting center and their backup Lane with 4, tied at 65.

A Stokes 3 started off the overtime period and put the Bears on their heels. A Suarez bucket with 2:45 left narrowed the deficit to 1 but a Hollingsworth layup extended the lead to 3. Following a McIntosh turnover, Gonzaga extended the lead to 5 an Ejim turnaround bucket. Another turnover, this one by former Bulldog McKayla Williams and an ensuing foul and free throws extended the Gonzaga lead to 74-67. After the Bears failed to score, another pair of free throws extended Gonzaga’s lead to 9 but a Suarez 3 with :20 left cut it to 6. With the Bears forced to foul, the Bulldogs continued to hit their free throws and pushed the lead back to 8 with :18 left, 78-70. It would be the final score.

The win pushed Gonzaga’s record to 9-2, with the Bears falling to 7-2 on the season.

With regard to the flurry of calls that went against Cal late in the game to force overtime:

“With the officiating the way that it was today, you think you’ve done things to secure a victory and you feel it’s kind of ripped out of your hands,” Smith said. “But you look at the fact that we gave them 18 offensive rebounds and that had nothing to do with officiating. We had a lot of turnovers. that had nothing to do with officiating. We did some things that caused us to lose this game so while it would’ve been nice to be at the free throw line tied up with a half a second left, that’s not all that happened tonight.”

Bears Lose Heartbreaker in Overtime to #23 Gonzaga

2,366 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by CalWSportsFan
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Back from the gme. A little bit better crowd tonght but still not huge. Sat beside some Ganzaga fans. They REALLY support their team.

i knew we were in trouble as soon as I saw Mia not suited up. Then Kemery got banged up and though she played a little, you could tell she was hurting. We were fatigued down the stretch.

Good news was Yo didn't have her crutch tonight. Both she and Mia walked around OK.

We can't beat these good teams down the stretch if we don't get healthy.
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Thanks for the excellent write up per usual.
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