At some point, you just run out of superlatives. Brittany Boyd is incredible in every phase of the game, and she wasn't going to let a tired group of Bears lose.
And the Bears were dragging. It certainly wasn't a lack of effort, but Cal struggled for the entire game finishing looks they would usually put away. Reshanda Gray again had to fight off multiple bodies on every possession and had trouble getting frequent looks. Cal only shot 38% from the field, and that kept the game closer than it should have been.
But they had Boyd. 18 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and a level of intensity, execution, and impact that can't be measured in numbers. How many possessions does she earn Cal with her defensive positioning and instinct? How many fouls does she draw on offense with her passes? How many free throws does she earn by getting her teammates in good positions?
I can't measure it in numbers, but we all know what our eyes are telling us.
Colorado played an extreme version of the 'pack the paint, sag off shooters' defense that Cal sees from time to time. it did a decent job of limiting touches for Reshanda Gray, but it gave Cal's guards plenty of open shots and plenty of open driving lanes. Boyd in particular took advantage, calling her own number more than usual. It was the right decision, and she finished 7-13 from inside the arc with a bunch of drawn fouls.
Fouling was one of the big stories of the game. Colorado committed 19 fouls to Cal's 10, which reflected two truths. First, Cal is much more athletic than Colorado, which helped them stay in front on defense and get by defenders on offense. But the foul discrepancy can also be explained by how physically Colorado played. The Buffs committed one flagrant foul and could have been called for one or two more. Just so I'm clear: I don't think there was any malicious intent; Colorado was just fully intent on not backing down, and when your game plan calls for 3 or 4 players crashing the paint, there are going to be flying bodies and loose limbs.
That physicality and fouling might have acted as an equalizer, but it also resulted in Cal shooting 21 free throws. The Bears ended up making 12 more freebies than Colorado and won by 13.
Although Gray had to deal with Colorado's physicality and extreme attention, she turned in an impressively efficient game with 17 points on 8 shots. Out there in the multi-verse, an alternate universe Reshanda has scored 20 points with a 20-25 game from the line without an official field goal attempt because teams are so willing to foul her rather than let her take and make shots.
The win sets up the best/worst Pac-12 final possible. Maximum reward, maximum potential for pain. Cal, Stanford, for the Pac-12 tournament title. It probably had to be this way.
Tune in tomorrow at 6:00 on ESPN. And for Oski's sake, if you happen to be in Seattle, get your tickets now. The Bears and Boyd are putting on a show, and it's a limited engagement.