The women’s basketball team played their most anticipated game of the season with a record-high 10,818 fans in attendance.
UConn got off to a rough start, while Cal immediate scoring from Receé Caldwell’s, making back to back three pointers to start the contest. While UConn struggled early offensively, they showed defensively that they were not going to let the ball into the post, making it hard for Kristine Anigwe to get her desired looks. Their defensive game-plan was the usual: front the post, and if it gets inside, double it to force it out her hands. With the double-team being expected, Anigwe did a great job of kicking the ball out to the perimeter, giving her teammates many open three point shot opportunity. After the first quarter, Receé Caldwell and Asha Thomas both had scored 9 points each, each going 3 for 5 from the three.
In the first half, Anigwe struggled to make anything, and began to settle for outside shots that were not falling. Despite her struggles and only scoring two points in the first half, the Golden Bears were only down six points at halftime. Thomas led them in scoring with 14 points. Defensively, Cal struggled to adequately cover on-ball screens, giving UConn some open looks from 15 feet out. Against a lights-out shooting team you cannot do that. For UConn at the half, they had only played six players (Cal played eight), and it was much of a collective effort of contribution from everyone in their lineup.
In the second half, UConn built a large lead, and the thought crossed many minds of if Cal was losing fight. In the third quarter, UConn shot well, and four of five starters were in double digits, led by Katie Samuelson with 18 points. Anigwe had her best quarter in third quarter, scoring eight more points, bringing her total to 10. Unfortunately, she would go scoreless in the fourth quarter. Interestingly, but the end of the third quarter, Cal had not shot a free throw all game long. In the fourth quarter, they would go 4/5 at the line.
Cal cut the lead tremendously in the fourth quarter, and would not let UConn expand their lead. Cal was down 15 with four minutes left in the game, and subsequently went on a 9-0 run to bring them to within six with around one minute left. UConn had gone scoreless for 3 minutes, until Crystal Dangerfield made two free throws with a minute left. UConn would go on to win 76-66.
Overall, it was a good effort by Cal, but the overall skill and poise of the UConn team showed to be superior. Though Cal did not win, they showed that they can hang with the best, and this early season test will pay dividends for them as they approach Pac-12 play in the coming weeks.
Anigwe collected her 1000th rebound in the game, making her one of three Cal basketball players (men’s and women’s) to accomplish 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their career.