There are many reasons to watch a sports. Most of them probably have something to do with loyalty to a team, school or player. But an underrated reason to watch is to see an athlete do something incredible.
Reshanda Gray scored 32 points in one half of basketball. I strongly suspect that it's a Cal record, since the single game record for points in a game is 47 (Back when AGL was setting records left and right), and that took two overtime periods. For a while it seemed like Gray was destined to break the record before halftime.
It was certainly the greatest half of basketball I have seen from a Cal player. The numbers are eye-popping. 14-15 from the field and 8 rebounds. 4-6 from the line, four drawn fouls. She was one missed jumper and two missed free throws from a perfect half of shooting. Hell, she didn't even play the entire 20 minutes.
How does a player score 32 points in a half? It takes a perfect confluence of factors. Washington State didn't have a single player who could guard Gray by themselves. Gray was feeling it from the field. Brittany Boyd had one of the best passing games of her career. Washington State was completely unable to make any kind of defensive adjustment until halftime. No other Bears were having any success shooting the ball. Add it all up and they kept feeding Beast Mode.
Unfortunately, Reshanda 'only' scored 11 points after the break. Washington State realized that their defense was untenable and began double teaming Gray before she even got the ball. Their defensive adjustment turned unbelievable Reshanda Gray back into normal Reshanda Gray, which is still an all-conference level performer. Unfortunately, all of the Bears who struggled to get going in the 1st half kept struggling in the 2nd half and the game devolved into a pretty ugly affair.
While Reshanda Gray was busy doing everything on offense, Washington State was busy keeping pace on the other end. Cal's defense for most of the 1st half and the beginning of the 2nd half simply wasn't up to their ability level, and it allowed the Cougars to take the lead late in the first half and early in the second half. Then both offenses went almost completely dormant.
The record will show that Cal took a 3 point lead into the break, then shot 21.4% in the second half.
And won the game.
They did it with defense, and with free throws. Washington State shot a nearly-as-miserable 26%, and Cal's nine made free throws was just enough to force overtime, where Washington State shot 14.3% and Cal made another nine free throws. I'm not going to say that it was all Cal defense, because the Cougars certainly missed their fair share of decent looks. But Cal certainly tightened up their scheme and did a pretty good job denying open looks behind the arc.
It was rough, it was weird, it was ugly. It's a win, and a win that clinches at least 3rd place in the conference. Any time I get to watch Cal win and I get to see a player do something incredible then it's been a good game.
- Brittany Boyd has had so many great games that were so close to being triple doubles. Then she gets a triple double despite making only two field goals. That has to be a record for least made field goals in a triple double ever, right? But despite a rough shooting game, she was still at times incredible in the way that only she is. One of Reshanda Gray's baskets came when Boyd threw a bounce pass between an opponent's legs. Who even thinks to try that?! If Boyd converted her shots at a more normal rate, we're debating if Gray's 43/16 was more or less impressive than Boyd's 23/14/11. Although then the game would have been a 15 point Cal win in regulation.
- Afure Jemerigbe picked up two quick fouls, and her absence really hurt Cal's defense for much of the 1st half. Probably not a coincidence that the defense was much better when she played virtually the entire 2nd half and overtime.
- Also, big ups to Mercedes Jefflo for entering the game with 8:40 left and playing eight straight minutes of crunch time defense. Wazzu only scored 8 points over those 8 minutes.
- Sometimes I think that this team intentionally hits only exactly as many three pointers as they need to win each game. 0-9 against Washington State, but whatever, we didn't even need them I guess.