clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Update: Cal Women Hold Off Illinois for 65-61 Road Win

The Cal women at Assembly Hall in Champaign (Photo via <a href="!/pages/Cal-Womens-Basketball/132455832300" target="new">Cal Women's Basketball Facebook Group</a>
The Cal women at Assembly Hall in Champaign (Photo via Cal Women's Basketball Facebook Group

It was an ugly second half, but Cal will take it as they earned their first road win of the season with just enough offense to hold off a persistent Illini comeback attempt.  Cal's fortunes were almost entirely tied to turnovers - they only coughed up the ball four times in the first half and went into the locker room with a 10 point lead.  But the Bears turned the ball over seven times during the first 10 minutes of the second half as Illinois cut a 13 point lead all the way down to two multiple times.  It was a close affair until Lindsay Sherbert hit a huge three pointer with two minutes left to give Cal a 5 point lead.  Good free throw shooting would ice the game over the last few minutes.

DeNesha Stallworth and Lindsay Sherbert led the charge offensively, but it was defense that really carried the day, as Illinois only shot 38% on the night.  Cal did a particularly good job on Karisma Penn, who only had 12 points until hitting a few baskets when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

It will be nice to carry a little momentum and confidence into Cal's Sunday home game against Stanford, though Cal will likely be somewhat disappointed at finishing the non-conference schedule at 8-3.  Still, considering the injury problems facing this team they enter conference play in a solid position, and flashes of brilliance from Lindsay Sherbert and Afure Jemerigbe portend stronger performances for the future.

With Cal traveling to frigid Illinois for their 3rd true road game of the year, we're once again relegated to listening to Dave Lewis on the radio/All Access.

For Illinois it's all about Karisma Penn, and so for Cal it's all about stopping her.  Penn is a 6'2'' sophomore forward who leads Illinois in scoring, rebounding, shooting percentage, blocks and steals.  She's not Illinois's only offense, but she's their obvious go-to player and will undoubtedly be Cal's focus every trip down the court.  Lydia McCully is their point guard and second leading scorer, and I'm guessing Eliza Pierre will be on her like a glove trying to prevent entry passes to Penn.

If you're looking for one big weakness for Illinois it's at the charity stripe - the Illini don't draw many fouls, and when they do they don't convert their chances.  Conversely, they've been sending their opponents to the line far too often.  I'm not sure if that's a weakness Cal is set to exploit, but I certainly wouldn't mind seeing DeNesha Stallworth drawing a few fouls and sending Penn to the bench with foul trouble early.

Illinois hasn't had a great start to the season - they've lost essentially every game against quality competition, and even suffered a few iffy losses, so this is a game that Cal will have the talent advantage in.  But then again, Cal had the talent advantage in New Mexico, so I'm not going to be taking any road wins for granted.  And it would be really nice if the Bears could head into a three game conference home stand with a win and some positive vibes.