Now, on to UCLA: Determined to get better pictures this time around, I approached the ticket office and requested the best reserved seats they had. They handed me seats in section 1, row BB. When we reached them, we quickly realized that we had bought tickets that traveling UCLA fans hadn’t purchased. So we had the luxury of a great view and the interesting insight of being within hearing distance of the UCLA bench.
We also had to deal with the hardcore UCLA fans. Most were fine, if a bit overzealous, but their knowledge was kind of creepy – they knew the first name of refs! And yelled at them personally! Also, one guy yelled "MISS" at the top of his lungs right when any Bear released a free throw, which just sounds awkward when your team is on the road. Plus, he kept doing it even when
I think I spent 90% of the game watching two Bruins guard 1 Bear
When trying to decipher
Nikki Caldwell effectively plots how she'll ruin my Saturday
Having said that,
Offensively, I felt we were scared. We didn't want the responsibility. We had players hide. We had players not show up. We got out-toughed.
That pretty much hit the nail on the head. When
Good defense --> transition offense
The one weakness to UCLA’s defense is that it can be overly aggressive at times and the Bruins tend to commit too many fouls. Early in the game
So I suffered through two hours of painful basketball while being surrounded by UCLA fans gleefully doing their chants over the fight song they stole from our band. Such are the risks of college fandom, particularly when you're watching a team with 6 freshmen against a well coached, veteran outfit.
Cal vs. USC Recap
Let's move onto the successful part of the weekend. This is what I wrote after Cal last lost to USC on an Ashley Corral buzzer beating banked in three pointer:
As much as I try to stay positive and enjoy following my Alma Mater, sometimes the results make me come to the conclusion that God does in fact hate the University of California. And the proof frequently manifests itself when the Golden Bears are matched up against teams that hail from Los Angeles.
So when Ashley Corral hit two straight completely absurd 3 point shots in a row (one of which banked in) to draw USC within 2 with 34 seconds to go I started having horrible flashbacks to previous insanely painful losses to USC. But evidently the women's team is made up of sterner stuff than I am, and they successfully held off the Trojans for a huge victory, almost entirely on the strength of their offensive rebounding. Check out this play-by-play from the 2nd half:
2:29 - Defensive Rebound, Gennifer Brandon
2:12 - Missed 3 Pointer. Offensive Rebound, Eliza Pierre
1:44 - Missed Jumper. Offensive Rebound, Gennifer Brandon
1:41 - Good Jumper, Gennifer Brandon
1:19 - Steal, Gennifer Brandon
1:15 - Missed Jumper, Offensive Rebound, Eliza Pierre
0:46 - Good Layup, Layshia Clarendon
(USC hits two 3's, then commits a foul. 57-55 Cal)
0:28 - First FT Good, 2nd FT no good. Offensive Rebound Natasha Vital. USC Fouls
0:27 - First FT Good, 2nd FT no good. Offensive rebound Gennifer Brandon. USC Fouls
USC fouls Alexis Gray-Lawson, she makes both FTs. Cal leads, 61-55.
Cal took nearly two minutes off of the clock, and in that span (from 2:29 to 0:37) they held USC to zero shots and pulled down 3 offensive rebounds. Then when Corral hit her crazy 3 pointers the Bears iced it with two more offensive rebounds. Also worth noting: Cal beat the Trojans with a mortal performance from Alexis Gray-Lawson, who only scored 9 points on 3-9 shooting. Instead strong performances were turned in by Gennifer Brandon, Layshia Clarendon and DeNesha Stallworth, who in particular seems to love playing against USC.
Stat Chart vs. USC and UCLA
Well, everything looks pretty bleak when you nearly set a record for fewest combined points in a half in NCAA history. It's a shame there isn't really a stat to reflect Cal's defensive effort for the first 10 minutes of the UCLA game (other than the zero stat on the scoreboard) because for a time the Bruins were even more frustrated than Cal. I'm going to file these stats in the back of my brain and hope they never show up again.
Player of the Game vs. USC - Brandon, Clarendon, and Stallworth
Player of the Game vs. UCLA - Rachelle Federico
Federico calmly directs traffic against UCLA
What's Next: Cal @ WSU (1-10, 6-16), Cal @ Washington (4-7, 9-12)
For some reason playing a team with no conference wins irrationally scares me, so I'm thrilled that WSU got their first Pac-10 win of the year on Saturday on the road against ASU. WSU is pretty good for a team that's 1-10; they've been within 10 points of each team in their last 5 losses, including against Cal. They won't be a pushover in Pullman. Washington, meanwhile, is in a painful slump. They've only won 1 game (over WSU in overtime) in their last 7. Cal should win both games to rise to 8-5 in the conference, but they'll need to bring the same defensive intensity they had against UW and WSU the first time around, and hopefully the offense that came to play against USC and not UCLA.