The Cal women flipped the script and exacted some revenge on Arizona St., bridging a small second half deficit, building a lead, and holding on for the win. The turning point was when Danielle Orsillo hit a long three to make the score 39-36 ASU with 12:00 to play. Cal's defense took over from that point on and ASU only scored 4 points in the next 10 minutes of gametime. The 15-4 run was led by baskets from DeNesha Stallworth, Alexis Gray-Lawson and Natasha Vital as Cal broke out of a game long offensive slump.
This was one of the strongest team efforts the Bears have put on all season long. Four Bears scored 8 points or more. Five different players had at least one steal for a total of 11 (out of 18 total ASU turnovers). A stifling team defensive effort held ASU to just 29.8% from the field. And most impressively, Cal recorded an assist on 15 of their 22 field goals, an impressive total for a team that struggles to score within the flow of the half court set.
Here are your two most important stats of the game: 1) In two previous matchups with the Sun Devils, the Bears were outrebounded both times (42-29 and 42-31). This time, the Bears won the battle 41-29. 2) In the first half the Bears turned it over 15(!) times. Cal didn't record their 2nd turnover of the 2nd half until there was 1:07 remaining. Almost 19 minutes with only 1 turnover!
Next up: Either Arizona or Stanford. Cal will be on TV tomorrow at 2:30 on FSN. Jayne Appel is not currently playing for the Cardinal, but they are up 5 on Arizona as I'm writing. Stanford is a tall mountain to climb, but I'm excited that Cal has another chance. Go Bears!
4 seed Cal vs. 5 seed Arizona St.
When: 11:00 AM PST
Streams: Pac-10.com stream
In case anybody is 'lucky' enough to have Friday off work like me (Thanks Arnold!), click the link above to watch the Cal women try to get some revenge on Arizona St. Cal lost twice to the Sun Devils despite leading both times inside of 5 minutes left. Those two losses will likely keep Cal out of the NCAA tournament, but a win today would feel good and give Cal one last chance to knock off Stanford. The NCAA tournament may be a stretch, but the Bears can make some noise in the Pac-10 tournament and perhaps play in the NIT to get the freshmen some post season experience.
Also, in case you missed the news, a number of Bears were named to the media and coach's all conference team:
-Alexis Gray-Lawson was named to the first team by both the media and the coaches, and was named to the all-defensive team by the coaches.
-DeNesha Stallworth was named to the all-freshman team by both the media and the coaches
-Eliza Pierre was named to the all-defense team by the coaches.
-Gennifer Brandon was named to the all-freshmen team by the media
Here's the schedule for today (note - all games will be streamed at the Pac-10 official site)
#1 Stanford vs. #8 Arizona
1:15 PM PST
The only real drama in this game is the health status of Jayne Appel, who is still questionable with a sprained ankle. Stanford showed they didn't need Appel to beat Cal, so they should be fine without her. Stanford shouldn't have much motivation other than closing out a perfect season against Pac-10 competition, because they've almost certainly locked up a #1 seed for the NCAA tournament. But I'm guessing they play out the tournament with full effort anyway.
#3 USC vs #6 Oregon
5:00 PM PST
USC is currently listed as a 10 seed in ESPN's braketology, and they would probably go into Sunday much less nervous with a win. Oregon is the scariest bad team in the tournament despite riding a 6 game losing streak. When the Ducks are hitting their threes they can play with any team in the conference, including UCLA and Stanford. They've already beaten USC once and they have the talent to make a run. If you want maximum entertainment, this is the first round game for you
#2 UCLA vs. #10 OSU
7:15 PM PST
UCLA is on a real hot streak and will be looking to improve on their NCAA seed. OSU pulled a minor upset to knock off UW last night, but they are unlikely to give UCLA much trouble. The Bruins beat OSU by 21 and 26 points in their two match-ups earlier in the year. UCLA won't look past the Beavers, but I'm more interested in UCLA's potential rubber match with USC in the semi-finals or a 1 vs. 2 game with Stanford as a test for UCLA's defensive mettle.