There's a simple way to explain this game - UCLA didn't have anybody that could stop Reshanda Gray, and she very nearly could have beaten UCLA single-handedly. Technically speaking, her 32 points aren't a career high. But I take a very skeptical look at any totals recorded when teams play Oregon. What's more impressive: scoring 33 points in 106 possessions, or 32 points in 70ish possessions? We all know the answer to that question.
At one point during the telecast, they just showed replay after replay of Reshanda scoring, and seeing it all in a row gives you an idea of how difficult she is to guard. she goes left with her left hand. She goes right with her right hand. She's probably the strongest player in the conference. Totally in control of her body, and constant, 100% energy. I don't envy her defenders, and it's not a coincidence that she draws a ton of fouls. And she's making her free throws at a completely wonderful rate, which just adds to the terror for everybody else.
If Gray wasn't enough to beat UCLA on her own then adding Brittany Boyd to the mix would've been enough. Boyd had a typically diverse game, finishing with 18 points on a variety of finishes to go along with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Combine Cal's star duo and you get 50 points, which was more than UCLA had when they both took to the bench with the game firmly in hand.
Major kudos to Boyd for managing foul trouble. As always, she picked up two relatively quick first half fouls. With Boyd on the bench, UCLA made a run to close an early deficit. Coach G brought Boyd back, and she played the final six minutes of the half without fouling as Cal went on a run of their own to go into halftime up six points.
But of course, this game was all about Gray. The scoring is eye-popping, but the rebounding was just as special. Gray is a good rebounder, but not in the same eye-popping way that Gennifer Brandon and Talia Caldwell were/are. But against UCLA Gray chased the ball with such ferocity, as if Cal's recent losses were weighing on her. Gray also had a large role in holding key UCLA scorer Atonye Nyingifa to 8 points on 3-13 shooting. Offense, defense, rebounding. It was as complete a game as you will ever see from a post player.
Cal didn't get a ton of contributions from anybody else, but when you have two players going like the Bears did, why look anywhere else? Gray and Boyd took 58% of Cal's shots and had 75% of Cal's field goals. UCLA never looked like they knew how to stop them, so the Bears just went right back to them. Frankly, I'm a little perplexed that UCLA didn't bring more double teams against Gray, but a lack of fouls to give in a limited rotation might have had something to do with that.
So, where do our Bears stand? When Stanford is done destroying USC tomorrow night, Cal will sit in a three way tie in the loss column for 2nd place in the conference with the Trojans and Sun Devils. The USC loss still hurts, but I'm actually wildly encouraged by Cal's play this weekend (more on that in this week's WBB column). Unfortunately, Stanford is up next, twice. Cal could play their best basketball of the season next week and still lose two games. Such is the reality of Chiney Ogwumike. But there's opportunity, and that's always fun.