Cal, as expected, rolled over Arizona, the worst team in the conference. Cal out-athleted the Wildcats throughout the game, and it was most evident inside, where the Bears out rebounded Arizona by 19 and got the ball into the paint with relative ease.
But most Cal fans will be hoping that Brittany Boyd's ankle injury isn't as serious as it seemed initially. With 14:29 left in the game, Boyd tried to chase an Arizona guard through a screen and ran headlong into the screen setter (picking up a meaningless foul in the process). It was obvious that she was in immediate pain, and she struggled to leave the court with the assistance of a Cal trainer.
She left for the locker room and would return in a boot, which was removed on the bench to allow for icing. When the game left she exited on crutches, and Coach Gottlieb had this to say after the game:
We don't know with Boyd. She rolled her ankle. We'll get a better look at it tomorrow, and we'll see. She's the toughest player I've coached, so if she can go, she will go. But we would never put her in any harm's way. But she'll do everything to get herself ready to go, whether that's for Sunday or later on, we don't know.
It's tough to overstate how important Boyd is to the Bears. Cal had 11 turnovers after Boyd left, and the simple reality is that Cal doesn't really have anybody to initiate the offense when Boyd isn't playing. There is a reason she has played virtually every single minute possible in Pac-12 play.
Mercedes Jefflo is Cal's (only?) point guard in Boyd's hypothetical absence, but she's more of a combo guard, and asking her to run the offense as a freshman is asking a lot. The Bears are really feeling the absence of Hind Ben Abdelkader, who was Cal's best back-up ball handler.
As for the game itself, I must confess to missing the start thanks to some wretched Friday night traffic in the city. When I arrived Cal was actually losing 10-9, but they were dominant for the rest of the 1st half and into the 2nd half, mostly by feeding the bigs inside. Arizona is one of the smaller teams in the conference, and they didn't really have an answer for Reshanda Gray. Even when Gray didn't get the ball, somebody else would get into the paint, and Arizona ended up having to foul a lot to prevent easy baskets. Cal capitalized at the line and the lead ballooned to 15.
The offense was pretty ugly without Boyd, but Cal was able to use their athleticism and defense to hold off Arizona, scoring in isolation plays or off of forced turnovers. If Cal will indeed have to play without Boyd, they will have to rely on their ability to stop other teams from scoring (and by creating offense with steals) to compete and win games.
Cal's depth may very well be cruelly tested on Sunday. We may well see if they are up to the challenge.