Talia Caldwell: She makes buckets - 1,000 points worth of 'em. - Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Layshia Clarendon scores 18, Talia is perfect from the field and Cal cruises to their eighth win in a row.
If the Bears get their way, there's a ton of time left in the 2012-13 season. It's too early for retrospectives and wistful nostalgia. But I'm trying to wrap my head around the concept that Cal's senior class has only three more games at Haas Pavilion.
That thought became more pressing after the seniors on the floor gave vintage performances to lead Cal to an easy win over Arizona State. Layshia Clarendon and Talia Caldwell combined to shoot 14-17 for 32 points, both flashing the talents that have made their Cal careers so successful. Layshia was constantly shredding ASU's zone, hitting her jumpers and finding space for lay-ins. Talia showed why she's such a high percentage shooter - when she gets the ball in good low post position it's all over, and when she doesn't she knows to pass it back out to the guards.
Sprinkle in 15 Gen Brandon rebounds and 3 Mikayla Lyles threes and some EP defense and there's your recipe for a wire-to-wire win. Cal earned their first double digit lead about halfway through the first half, and more or less maintained it for the rest of the game. True, the Bears might have missed some opportunities to really pull away and put the game away for good. But by the same token, ASU never really looked likely to make the game close, let alone win.
Cal's defense started off brilliantly, holding the Devils to just eight points over the first ten minutes of the game. There were occasional lapses the rest of the way, but it says something about our expectations for the defense that they could hold ASU to 38% eFG% and force 17 turnovers and leave us feeling that they could have played even better. ASU's Joy Burke presented a match-up challenge for Cal's posts - rarely do you encounter a 6'5'' player who can step out to shoot and has relatively polished post moves. She scored 16 points and made me wonder why she's not getting significantly more playing time. Nobody else for ASU was a consistent threat.
The win also included a few milestones. Talia Caldwell passed 1,000 career points and the Bears matched 2008-09 for their best start to a season in Cal history. That feels a little silly to talk about in early February, but it will still be a nifty record to try to break on Sunday.
If there was a downside to this game it was that the Bears were without Reshanda Gray for the third game in a row. Every communication coming from the team has indicated that the injury is considered minor, and the announcers made jokes about how Reshanda was trying to convince Coach Gottlieb to let her into the game today. So again, hopefully it's all just precautionary and the Bears are making 100% sure that Reshanda is ready for the all important L.A. road trip. Cal can beat teams in the lower half of the conference without her, but I wouldn't want to try it down south.
Good win. But then again, they all are.