Post game edit:
What a weird game. The Roadrunners can read the stat sheet, and saw that Cal was shooting 19.6% from behind the arc entering today's game. So they said to themselves, 'let's just defend everything within a few feet of the paint and let Cal shoot deep shots to their heart's content.'
So Cal did. So they made 11 threes, nearly half of the 70 points the Bears scored.
I said a week and a half ago that, although Cal wasn't likely to become a great 3 point shooting team, that they were certainly much much better than what they had shown. They were due for a game like this.
The assault was led by Hind Ben Abdelkader, who hit six threes, including five in a row during a decisive stretch in the 2nd half. I mentioned in her pre-season preview that she might immediately become Cal's best shooter. It's still premature to say that she is, but today was a pretty strong argument in her favor. HIND!
Afure Jemerigbe had a decent bounce back game from behind the arc, Brittany Boyd had plenty of fun when Cal was able to get out in transition (12 assists!), and Reshanda Gray was her usual self despite dealing with virtual triple teams from time to time.
Ultimately, it was a relatively routine team win despite CSUB's rather extreme defensive strategies. The game wasn't as fast paced as I had predicted in part because Bakersfield packed so many players into the paint that they were never able to get out an run themselves.
Next up is UConn in New York, which is as different a challenge as you can draw up. See you all next week!
Last year, Cal played CSU Bakersfield on the road and emerged with an easy win over a team still making the full transition to Division 1 basketball. This year the Roadrunners are a fully fledged member of the WAC, and are doing a bit better than the team that struggled badly last year. That isn't to say that this is a team that should challenge Cal, but they may not be quite the same strength-of-schedule anchor that they were last year.
CSUB is 3-5 this year with wins over USF and Nebraska-Omaha and credible close games against Cal Poly and UNLV. They have also played both Oregon and Oregon State and got beaten badly in both games, so that gives you a sense of how they're likely to fair against Pac-12 opposition.
Like last year, they will live up to their name and run run run at a fast pace. Their willingness to push the ball resulted in an absurd 131-91 loss to Oregon, with a box score that must be seen to be believed. The Roadrunner offense is OK, but the defense is pretty bad, which means that Cal should be scoring many points this afternoon.
Junior guard Tyonna Outland is their biggest threat, and she's averaging 18 points/game behind decent shooting and lots of free throws. Sophomore forward Batabe Zempare is nearly averaging a double double down low. But beyond those two players it's tough to prepare for players individually as CSUB plays a 10 woman rotation, with nine players averaging at least 16 minutes a game. That's what it takes to keep players fresh and running in an up-tempo system.
This is a game that Cal should cruise in. CSUB's biggest strength is rebounding, which should be negated by Cal's prowess on the boards. Cal won by 38 on the road last year, and although CSUB is improved and Cal isn't as good as last year, I would expect a similar result at home this time.