Afure Jemerigbe's 13 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds led Cal over Oregon. - Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Nine Cal players scored in a balanced performance to push Cal past a pesky Oregon squad.
With nobody expecting Oregon to pose a challenge to the Bears, the biggest story of the game was the absence of Brittany Boyd, who was dressed and available but didn't play in a routine win. Boyd took a number of falls against USC, and evidently one of those caused a minor groin injury. That meant that again the Bears played short handed by choice in an effort to keep players healthy for the most important month of the year.
And in the end, the Bears did just fine without their play-making point guard. Seven different players combined for fourteen assists, and the team only coughed up the ball nine times. The offense, generally speaking looked fine.
Admittedly, the Bears started slowly and Oregon actually led 18-17 late in the first half. The Ducks employed the typical pack-the-paint-and-hope-they-miss strategy, and for a little while it worked. But then Afure Jemerigbe, Layshia Clarendon and Mikayla Lyles went to work from deep, and that was all she wrote.
Meanwhile, Cal's defense did exactly what you would expect them to do, holding Oregon to 25% shooting from the field. The return of Ariel Thomas from injury meant that Oregon took better care of the ball, and the Ducks drew some fouls and hit their free throws, but they were never going to keep pace with Cal's offense.
Boyd's injury and Cal's large 2nd half lead allowed Lindsay Gottlieb to give Cal's role players plenty of minutes, and those players capitalized. Afure Jemerigbe looked very confident in both her jump shot and her ability to get to the paint, and she filled up the stat sheet all night long. Mikayla Lyles hit a few big threes when the game was close and did a good job on the boards. Justine Hartman looked confident and composed on the offensive end. And Avigiel Cohen even got extended minutes and made the prettiest play of the game with a killer step-back three from the corner to put a nice little bow on Cal's win as the starters erupted from the bench.
No major insights to gleam from this one. Oregon is healthier and generally looked better than when these teams met in Eugene, but they still aren't really on Cal's level. The Bears didn't come out with a ton of focus or fire, but they certainly made enough plays and took care of business as expected. Sunday brings Senior Day, and the Bears keep rolling onward.