Cal Women's Basketball vs. Utah Preview + Gamethread

When: 7:00 pm PT
Video Stream: Cal All-Access
Audio Stream: Cal All-Access
Gametracker

When Cal first played Utah the Utes were struggling, in the midst of a run that saw them start Pac-12 play 2-6. They have since recovered to raise their record to 6-8 with upset wins over USC and Arizona State, so this game isn’t a gimme. Still, those two upset wins came at altitude in Salt Lake City, and Cal will be heavy favorites at home.

In the first matchup Cal won behind a balanced scoring effort and a barrage of rebounds and free throws, but it wasn’t easy. Three late 3 pointers (hmm, a familiar refrain?) cut a 12 point Cal lead down to 2 before two late baskets and good free throw shooting clinched the victory. Cal’s goal in the rematch should be to put the Utes away sooner. Because they play so slowly Utah is a difficult team to pull away from, but it can be done.

The book on stopping Utah’s offense has changed slightly. Before it was about stopping forwards Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski. But as conference play began, guards Janita Badon and Iwlani Rodrigues have emerged as capable option as well. Having four consistent scoring threats rather than two probably has something to do with Utah’s recent resurgence. Cal did a great job controlling Wicijowski the first time around, but Rodrigues and Badon both contributed to keep the game close until the end.

Tempo Free Preview

Our computer overlords (Sagarin) predict: Cal by 11

Category

Cal Ranking

Utah Ranking

Advantage

Cal eFG% v. Utah Def eFG%

106

54

U

Cal Def eFG% v. Utah eFG%

133

63

U

Cal TO% v. Utah Def TO%

116

334

CCC

Cal Def TO% v. Utah TO%

221

42

UU

Cal Reb% v. Utah Reb%

2

198

CC

Cal FTR v. Utah Opp FTR

130

88

U

Cal Opp FTR v. Utah FTR

103

166

C

Cal O-PPP v. Utah D-PPP

37

140

CC

Cal D-PPP v. Utah O-PPP

87

85

-

When I previewed Utah the first time I was anticipating a hideous game because Utah plays so slowly. But I underrated the impact of Utah’s inability to force turnovers, which made for a relatively free flowing game.

Ultimately Cal won because they controlled the paint – rebounding, scoring, fouls – and Utah just couldn’t keep up despite hitting some 3s. There’s no reason to think that Cal can’t do the same this time. The variable, as always, is perimeter defense, which will have to be a team-wide effort. Plouffe, Rodrigues and Rachel Messer will all shoot whenever they’re open and every player has to be ready to guard the line. It will be interesting to see how Cal deals with screens and motion after a rough few weeks of 3 point defense.

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