It would be simplistic to say that this game was a one-on-one battle between Brittany Boyd and Jamie Weisner. But if it was, Boyd took the individual match-up while leading Cal to victory in the process. How did she do it? You'd better not underestimate the quickest hands in the west.
Boyd finished the game with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals and 2 assists in a simply dominating performance. Boyd left the court when she picked up her 3rd foul with 16:01 left in the 2nd half, and while she sat Oregon State climbed back into the game. Boyd came back after about four minutes, but OSU would stay in control and eventually take a 48-45 lead.
And then it was all BB. Transition layup and 1. Picked pocket, steal, transition layup. Picked pocket, steal, transition layup. ANOTHER picked pocket, steal, half court assist to a streaking Courtney Range for a layup. Before OSU could blink a three point lead had turned into a seven point deficit, and when Afure Jemerigbe nailed a three the game was over, and the only question was how long the Beavers would persist with fouling.
Weisner was nearly enough on her own. She following up a 20 point performance in Haas Pavilion last year on Senior Day with a 24 point, 11 rebound showing. However, she was victim to two of Boyd's late steals, and her teammates were only 13-44 to support her impressive effort.
Boyd had solid support from Reshanda Gray and Afure Jemerigbe. Gray worked hard all game against 6'6'' Amber Hamblin and drew most of the fouls that resulted in Hamblin fouling out. Despite having to finish over a 6'6'' shot blocking specialist, Reshanda still managed 14 points and 8 boards. Jemerigbe had the unfortunate task of slowing down Weisner on defense, and although she got her points, she had to work really hard for them. It didn't impact Foo's offense, as she finished with 12 points.
Cal had another strong defensive performance, holding OSU to 33.8% shooting and forcing 16 turnovers. The Beavers can really shoot the ball, but I thought Cal generally did an excellent job of fighting through screens and contesting as many shots as possible. OSU hit a decent amount of their open threes (and even a few that weren't very open) but by the 2nd half they were forcing up more and more bad threes as Cal's active perimeter defense seemed to frustrate them. Lots of credit to all of the Cal guards for a consistent, high energy performance against one of the better back courts they'll face in Pac-12 play.
That Cal won relatively comfortably without Gennifer Brandon or Mercedes Jefflo is a good sign. Jefflo's suspension will evidently end at the end of this week while Gen's return is still undecided, although she's practicing to shake off the rust. It'd be nice if both are back for Cal's trip to Colorado next week, but it's good to see the current group playing better together bit by bit. Coach Gottlieb is doing a great job of managing a slim rotation for the moment, and the starters deserve plenty of credit for closing the game strong despite logging major minutes.
Oregon is up next, which means tired legs will be given another exhausting test against Paul Westhead and the up-tempo Ducks. But if you're bored with playoff football, you should tune in on Sunday. For my money there are few things more entertaining than when Brittany Boyd is given free rein to run in transition. If you tuned in against Oregon State, you saw exactly why.