USA TODAY Sports
Can the Bears extend their win streak and move to within 1 game of a conference title?
When: 6:00 pm PT
Video Stream: Pac-12.com
Audio Stream: Cal All-Access ($$$)
I'll be honest, Washington State confuses me. Cal fans (and Lindsay Gottlieb!) love talking about Cal's depth. Reshanda Gray would, I believe, start for every other team in the Pac-12. Eliza Pierre will probably make her 4th straight all defense team. But Cal only has 10 active players available to play in any given day.
Washington State has thirteen players averaging 10 minutes or more per game. That seems crazy to me. Is it that impossible for June Daugherty to figure out the best combination of five players to win games? Or the best eight players to rotate in and out? Are the Cougars so poorly conditioned that nobody is capable of playing more than 5 straight minutes without becoming exhausted?
It'd be one thing if this system resulted in wins, but the Cougs are 6-10 in the Pac-12 and have six losses to teams outside the RPI top 100. And yet, even more confusingly, Wazzu has some good wins, including a very rare win over Gonzaga in Spokane and wins over Ohio State and BYU.
So yeah, the Cougs make no sense. On the bright side, they are 0-3 against the other ranked teams in the Pac-12 with an average margin of defeat of 15 points. The Bears should win comfortable. Should.
Player to Watch
Lia Galdiera, essentially by default. Galdiera is the only healthy Cougar averaging more than 6.3 points per game. She's not especially efficient and she takes a ton of shots to get to her 14.8/game, but she's capable of getting hot from anywhere on the court and she's a gifted thief. Cal will have to account for her on both ends of the court, but if the Bears play good defense they should be able to force her into taking bad shots.
Keys To The Game
Ball control: Washington State leads the Pac-12 in turnovers forced and turnover percentage during conference play. If their constant player substitutions does nothing else, it allows for fresh legs and lots of fouls. Cal must stay composed.
Blow them away quickly: Well, yeah, that's kind of a good thing for every game. But Brittany Boyd may or may not still be nursing an aching groin muscle, and nothing would be better than a blowout game that didn't require her services at point guard for more than 20 minutes.
Bring the usual road focus: The Bears have been spectacular on the road in conference play. After a bad scare at home, I won't say that the Bears are happy to be away from Haas. But if they bring a similar effort in Washington that they brought from L.A. they'll enter the Pac-12 tournament with two easy wins.