There are a few different talking points from Cal’s win over Washington State. Why are the Bears struggling to pull away from bottom-half-of-the-conference teams at home? Why has Cal’s shooting touch abandoned them over the last few weeks? There will be time to talk through those issues. But for now, I’m happy to celebrate another win led by another typically-Herculean effort from Kristine Anigwe.
Cal’s star scored 30 points on 19 shots while also grabbing 17 rebounds. It was an even more impressive performance than the 26 and 10 she put up against Washington on Friday, for a number of reasons. For one, Penina Davidson didn’t get going against the Cougars the way she did against the Huskies, and so Kristine was carrying a heavier burden on Sunday. For two, Washington State’s defense was more physical and sent more bodies at her than Washington did on Friday. Her scoring had more variety, the degree of difficulty higher. Plus, she played more minutes in a game that was closer, more tense.
She’s one of the few players in the country special enough to carry her team to victory based on her own talent, effort, and unique gravity.
And she was the one making the critical plays down the stretch, when the game hung in the balance. With Cal trailing by a point with 1:40 left it was Kristine who got fouled after getting position on the offensive glass to earn free throws, and it was Kristine who got the bucket with 0:28 left that put Cal ahead for good.
For much of the game Anigwe was matched by Washington State wing Borislava Hristova, who scored 25 with an impressive display of inside/outside basketball. It felt like Washington State was running plays to get Hristova open on nearly every possession and the Bulgarian junior obliged by taking advantage of Cal’s defense. But While Hristova’s scoring kept the game close, she couldn’t quite match the massive impact Anigwe had even beyond the scoring - locking down the glass on defense and nearly fouling out three different Cougar forwards.
For the 2nd straight game Cal dominated the paint yet couldn’t pull away because of a pretty massive 3 point shooting deficit. Cal went just 1-8 from deep while Wazzu hit on 8-19 (a couple of them circusy) to stay close.
Five games ago Cal was 78-204 from three on the season, for a pretty excellent 38%. Over the last five games, Cal is 18-67 from deep, a pretty frightening 27%. Cold shooting probably hasn’t cost the Bears a Pac-12 game yet, but with the brutal upcoming schedule now would be the perfect time to rediscover that outside shooting touch from non-conference play.