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Cal WBB vs. Washington: Preview & Gamethread

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Can the Bears avenge an early, close loss in Seattle and pick up a valuable RPI win over the Huskies?

Plum. Again.
Plum. Again.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When: 2:30 pm
TV: Pac-12 Network
Live Stream: None
Live statscalbears.com

Before we get started, an important note: This Washington team should be ranked. They have four losses. One was to Stanford, at home, and the other three were all to ranked teams on the road. They have beaten two top 15 teams, plus Cal. They are 100% a top 25 team.

So, what has changed since the held to to beat Cal by 2 in Seattle? Exactly what you would expect - three wins over Oregon, Colorado and Utah, plus a loss in Corvallis to top 10 Oregon State. I don't really have anything new to say about this team that I didn't say the last time we previewed them. I'll try anyway!

Roster

Starters

PG Jazmine Davis, 5'7'' Sr.
G Kelsey Plum, 5'8'' So.
G Brianna Ruiz, 5'10'' So.
F Talia Walton, 6'2'' Jr.
F Aminah Williams, 6'0'' Sr.

Bench

F/C Chantel Osahor, 6'2'' So.
F/C Katie Collier, 6'3'' So.

Washington definitely plays the shortest bench in the Pac-12. Plum hasn't played fewer than 36 minutes in any Pac-12 game, and her fellow starters aren't far behind. Hell, Collier plays so few minutes that it's practically a 6 player rotation.

So. Kelsey Plum. She torched Cal for 30 in Seattle, and UW depends heavily on her scoring ability. I don't know how to slow her down, but it can be done. ASU and OSU figured it out, but those teams both have a better defense than Cal does, at least at the moment. Not fouling her would be a good start.

And of course the challenge against Washington is that every other player on the floor around Plum is a valid offensive threat. Walton, Davis, Ruiz and even Osahor are all legit 3 point threats. It's a tough, tough team to defend.

Our Computer Overlords Predict

Sagarin Predictor: Cal by 1

Courtney Range did not play when Cal lost a narrow game in Seattle. Might her prescence make a difference? I really hope she can keep Aminah Williams off the offensive glass.

Keys to the Game

Keep UW off the line: Last time around, Washington went 24/30 from the free throw line. They have a bunch of players who know how to draw a foul, and punish you by making the freebies (76% as a team, 10th in the nation). Cal, of course, can be prone to over-aggression and silly fouls on defense. It's a dangerous combo.

One way to avoid fouls would be to play more zone. However, UW probably shoots too well to make the zone a consistent, viable strategy against the Huskies. It's going to be about discipline and energy, and hopefully refs who don't call much.

Get a better game from Reshanda Gray: UW typically struggles to defend Gray, which doesn't really make them unusual. But in Seattle, Gray uncharacteristically struggled to finish shots inside, and also had foul trouble that limited her to 28 minutes. If Gray finishes at her usual rate, and stays on the court, it's hard to see UW's defense holding Cal down.

3 point shooting randomness: Washington is a team that likes to shoot 3s, and Cal isn't. Yet when these teams last met, Cal attempted 26 three pointers as compared to Washington's 13. It didn't work out for the Bears, but Cal's not as far behind UW in 3 point shooting percentage as you might think. If either one of these teams experiences a particularly good day from behind the line, the other will struggle to keep up.