Cal Women’s Basketball End Non-Conference with Heartbreak but More Promise


I made my case last week why Cal should be able to handle Ohio State. A part of me actually wound up going to the game Saturday expecting disappointment. While that was what happened, I still saw a lot of signs that maybe even as soon as next year (or later this season when we face Stanford at home) we will beat these quality teams.

Cal lost 75-77 in a game that appeared to be handled by Ohio State early in the second half. Cal went cold in all phases of the game and Ohio State were able to extend their lead to fourteen with five and a half minutes to go. Cal went on a lengthy run to end the game, and had possession in the final seconds down by two. Give credit to Ohio State’s defense, they wouldn’t let Cal get any easy shots, and three desperation heaves below the basket would not go down.

Give credit to Ohio State, they looked very strong and were not missing much of their shots. Star Samantha Prahalis looked amazing as advertised, I had a good view of the game and watched as she (and others on the team) made no-look passes as if they all had peripheral vision. They reminded me

a lot of Stanford, and it looks like they’ll be going far this season.

The obvious frustration from the game was the fact that the Bears lost by two, and missed EIGHTEEN free throws out of 38 for a 52.6% success rate. Obviously that’s a huge deal. I originally thought it might have been from the pressure of being so close against such a great team. However #1 this was not Cal’s first game against a ranked team; and #2 further inspection of Cal’s free throw shooting reveals that this is about normal for the team. Free throwing will be a liability all year. This wasn’t even the worst game for Cal (they only made 36% of their free throws in the Sacramento State match) so hopefully close conference games don’t come down to free throws, unless Cal improves on that front.

The story of the game was Gennifer Brandon and her amazing 24 rebounds that she racked up in Saturday’s game, in addition to 24 points. Both stats are career highs for Brandon, and neither comes as that big a surprise when looking at the amazing season she’s had so far. She was awarded with her first ever Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honor. After the Ohio State game (it could be different now), Cal moved up to #2 in the country and #1 in the Pac-12 in rebounding margin.

By comparison, Cal played Dartmouth last night and had a pretty easy time, winning 80-39. Dartmouth played strong defense but their offense was very lacking, allowing Cal to score off fast break points. 33 of Cal’s 80 points were off turnovers, 30 fast break. Lindsay Sherbert and Afure Jemerigbe tied for the team’s leading scorer with 15 points each.

Stay tuned in the next week for a preview of conference play. We will look at what Cal’s eleven rivals did during their nonconference plays, and most importantly look at the UCLA and USC matchups. I am going to the Holiday Bowl on December 28, and will try to get back to the Bay Area for the Men’s game against USC on the 29th. If it becomes unrealistic to make it back so quickly, I may try to check out the Cal Women’s game at UCLA on the 29th instead. We’ll see.

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