#6 Cal 60, OSU 38: Bears Suffocate Beavers

Just your typical 10 rebound day from Brittany Boyd. - USA TODAY Sports

Behind balanced scoring and excellent defense, the Bears cruised to a routine win over Oregon State.

Honestly, there isn't much to say about this game. I feel like Coach Gottlieb and the Bears played this one pretty close to the vest. Consider that Reshanda Gray didn't play even though reports indicate that she could have if necessary. Consider that Gennifer Brandon only played 26 minutes and sat for most of the 2nd half, presumably out of caution as well. Consider that Cal chose to deploy the full court press only twice (forcing two turnovers) against a team very vulnerable to pressure defense.

The whole affair felt like a day game after a night game in baseball, when a manager tries to figure out how to win a game while giving the veterans a rest. That's almost certainly an exaggeration, but whatever the case it was a very successful game for the Bears, who cruised to an easy victory.

In the game preview I identified pressure defense, taking good shots, and three point defense as things to watch for. The Bears did a great job taking good shots and defending the arc, and as it turns out they didn't even need the press to win comfortably. OSU got off a few more 3 point attempts than I'd like, but a number of them were forced and/or desperation attempts and they didn't make one until the game was well in hand. Meanwhile, Cal shot solidly from the field when you consider that a) Oregon State is 11th in the country in 2 point shooting percentage defense and b) Cal was without their 2nd most efficient shooter.

Oregon State's 28% eFG% probably isn't entirely representative of Cal's defensive effort - the Beavers were clearly having an off night shooting the ball. But it was a reasonable reward for a strong, consistent defensive that forced 15 turnovers without too much trouble. With a bevy of inexperienced players, Oregon State is one of the more offensively challenged teams in the conference. But Cal made them look like the most offensively challenged team in the conference, and that's a very good thing.

Perhaps the most interesting development of the game was that Justine Hartman played 31 minutes, a career high by 7 minutes and a season high by 10 minutes. Unfortunately, she didn't excel, picking up just 2 points, 5 rebounds and 4 fouls. When Cal stretched their halftime lead out to 25 points with 13 minutes left in the game, it obviously represented a chance for bench players to get some extended minutes. Alas, it doesn't look like Hartman is really ready to contribute at a high level this year. I'll continue to refuse to give up hope that she will be a valuable player in the future.

Meanwhile, the six healthy players that are a part of Cal's main 7 player rotation scored 58 of Cal's 60 points with an 3FG% of 48%. Those are the players Cal will be riding in to March, and they all played excellently. Hopefully Reshanda Gray will be back with them on the court on Super Bowl Sunday against the Ducks. But I think this team can win one more without her if necessary.

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