After an incredible come-from-behind overtime win against USC, the Bears faced off against #14 UCLA on Sunday afternoon, in what norcalnick rightly called "the Latest Game of the Year of the Week" for Cal. Whereas the USC game was marked by poor shooting, and was saved for Bears by extraordinary performance of National Player of the Week Gennifer Brandon, the UCLA game was won through the Bears' usual more balanced attack. Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 22 points, along with 6 assists. There were double-doubles from Talia Caldwell (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Gennifer Brandon (12 points, 14 rebounds). Afure Jemerigbe added 10 points and made 4 steals, and Brittany Boyd contributed 8 points and 6 assists.
In the first half, UCLA challenged the Bears to play their usual fast-paced game, and they were very much up to the challenge. Here, Brittany Boyd cuts right through the UCLA defense to score and push the Cal lead up to 24-12:
And here Talia Caldwell gets the pass under the basket from Layshia Clarendon to make it a 26-14 game:
About that time, UCLA abandoned its up-tempo game, and slowed things down, defending the paint, and forcing the Bears to take shots from the outside. Here, Afure Jemerigbe makes them pay with a 3, with Justine Hartman's pump fake in the paint pulling the Bruins defenders off Jemerigbe to give her an open shot:
The Bears took a 7-point lead into halftime, 40-33. And during the half, California women's basketball alumnae were introduced to the crowd. Among them was Colleen Galloway, whose retired jersey hangs in the rafters of Haas Pavilion. Coincidentally, it was Galloway's school record of 26 rebounds in a game that was tied by Gennifer Brandon last Thursday against USC.
Colleen Galloway is the first one on the left in this video.
Then it was back to business. In the second half, there was more great play from Gennifer Brandon. Here, Brittany Boyd breaks the Bruin press with out breaking a sweat, and passes to Reshanada Gray. When Gray's shot doesn't fall, Brandon swoops in to grab the rebound and score.
The Bruins cut into the lead in the second half, bringing it as close as 4 points. And there was a stretch in the middle of the second half when the teams traded turnover after turnover, as a result of some poor passing and decision-making, and some good defense. But the Bears always seemed to be in control, and to be able to make the plays they needed. In this sequence, Layshia Clarendon hits a jumper, then Afure Jemerigbe gets the steal, and Gennifer Brandon scores again:
Okay, this one didn't actually turn out so well. Brittany Boyd ended up drawing on offensive foul on this pass. But what the heck, it's worth watching just to see Boyd's incredible athleticism. Plus, it's just fun. Although Coach Gottlieb probably won't want to see it again:
The game came to any end with a Layshia Clarendon free throw, bringing the final score to 70-65:
The importance of this win is hard to overstate. It gives the Bears a win against each of the three other ranked teams in the Pac-12. UCLA is a very good team, as its #14 ranking makes clear, and the Bears still face a tough game against them in Los Angeles in a few weeks. It also moves the Bears to 15-2 on the season, and 5-1 in conference play, tied for the lead with Stanford. The win keeps California's national ranking at #7, and moves their RPI to #5. And their next "Game of the Year of the Week" comes at Haas Pavilion on Thursday against #20 Colorado, as the Bears' very special season continues.