The Cal women's basketball team shocked the college basketball scene when they went to then #8 Louisville and really took it to the Cardinals in an upset that took the then un-ranked Bears to #21. Could they show the same spark against UC Riverside and Cal Poly? I was able to stream the Riverside game, but I showed up to the Cal Poly match-up and was greeted with an explosive offensive performance, that was made even better when you realize it was mainly done by first and second year players.
The Friday game was a day game, meant to get elementary/high schools around the Bay Area to come watch the Bears play. And come they did. Lots of screaming kids were in town to witness Cal open the home slate against the upset minded UC Riverside Highlanders. The Highlanders even took a halftime lead, but the Bears would eventually end up squeaking it out 64-58. Although Riverside might be good, they would battle the top Pac-12 team Oregon State in the first half Sunday before getting blown out, it was still a sign that the Bears will still show inexperience and have a few downers. Just as long as those downers don't derail a NCAA tournament selection, they will be fine.
Cal Poly came to town Sunday, at the Mustangs were no match for the Bears. Although they had a few runs, particularly in the second half, and showed some offensive prowess (Lisa Marie Sanchez and Beth Balbierz each getting three three-pointers) the Bears, as I said in the headline, made it rain!
The Bears made a school record 14 three-pointers, breaking an almost 20 year old record (Bears had 13 against Long Beach State in 1995). And the breakdown? Mikayla Cowling, Asha Thomas, and Gabby Green had four EACH. Courtney Range and Penina Davidson each had one. Of those five, only one is a Junior (there are no seniors on the team) in Courtney. That's three seasons (including this one) we can look forward to these kind of performances, and four with our new point guard Asha Thomas, who has really made a name for herself in her first four games as a Bear.
We also saw some signs of promise from other Cal freshmen:
- Chen Yue logged in 11 minutes, and scored 4 points (Her first 4 as a Bear) including one after a steal. Although she looked very raw and turned it over 4 times, her height advantage gives her a reason to stay on the roster and get experience in these "blowout" games. (Think Kameron Rooks as a freshmen for a men's basketball analogy)
- MaAne Mosley played 15 minutes and scored 9 points, by far her most productive outing yet in this new season. She looked solid, committing no turnovers, and is an important piece if the Bears want to have some depth in the bigger games on the schedule.
- Kristine Anigwe continued to impress, shooting over 50% on field goal attempts, as well as getting a block and a steal in 26 minutes of action.
COMING UP NEXT: Although I did try to see if it was logistically possible to go to Las Vegas for the men's and women's tournaments, ultimately flights to Vegas aren't so cheap right now, and I don't want to miss Cal/ASU football. But Golden Blogs will do what we can to bring you coverage of the Texas A&M game on Friday, as there will be a live stream available. The 12th ranked Aggies have an identical 4-0 record, and held off a solid, but un-ranked, TCU squad 82-78 on Saturday. Make no mistake, this one could be an even tougher match-up than the Louisville game, now that an elite team will play Cal knowing they are not a team to look past (not that Louisville did that). If Cal can pull this one out, it's absolutely fair to think the sky's the limit with this squad. Even if they don't, depending on how they look, we will know more about what to think about this team's potential in Pac-12 play.
UPDATE: Cal has moved up to #16 in the AP Top 25! Cal's next opponent, Texas A&M, is now #10. Louisville, despite being 0-2, is #22. Future non-conference opponents Nebraska and UCLA received votes. #7 Oregon State, #13 Stanford, and Arizona State (tied with Cal at #16) are the other ranked Pac-12 teams.
(This is my Cal women's basketball Golden Blogs debut. I will be filling in for Nick Kranz when he is unavailable/busy, I hope I can be of service to the fans of one of the more under-appreciated teams on the Cal campus. I will attend almost every home game this season (only the December 6 game is listed as a "No" on my schedule right now) and will livetweet every home game/televised road game on both my personal account and more so on the @GoldenBlogs account, most of the tweets about the game yesterday were from me. I hope it was enjoyable. If not, I welcome the feedback. Go Bears!)