Nov. 1, 2012
BERKELEY - No. 13/15 California used a stifling defense and balanced offensive effort with five players scoring in double-digits to dismantle Vanguard, 98-57, Thursday night in an exhibition game at Haas Pavilion.
Junior Gennifer Brandon led the way with a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double effort while fellow post player Reshanda Gray and Talia Caldwell added 19 and 17 points, respectively. Sophomore Brittany Boyd flirted with a triple-double on the night with 16 points, six assists and six steals, and senior guard Layshia Clarendon added 13 points, all coming in the first half.
"I think this group has been excited to play again since we lost in South Bend, but what I'm happy about is that we have been working on things since then, and I think we saw some of those things tonight," California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "I was definitely happy that I saw our players trying to do the things that we are trying to be better at, a little bit better defensively, more pressure on the basketball, more fluid on the offensive end, whether people are playing us man or zone, or if we get a transition bucket or not. So, I really like some of the things we saw collectively."
The Bears collected 16 steals and forced the Lions into 25 turnovers on the night with a suffocating defense that earned 46 points off turnovers on the night.
"As a group, we want to be much better defensively, not only pressuring the ball, pressuring on the strong side, making entry passes tough, but also being a really good help side team," Gottlieb said. "If you get past our line of pressure, it's not a basket (that is there, but) we have a second and third defensive options there. I think playing faster than we did last year, converting when we play fast, but then knowing the difference between when we have early offense and when we have to set up and I think you will hopefully see that even more so as the year develops."
California opened the game with a commanding defensive effort to take an 11-0 lead over the opening four minutes with Boyd collecting two steals and Brandon grabbing another to set the early tone. The Golden Bears quickly swelled the lead to 22-5 with Clarendon and Gray combining to score the next nine points to put the game at hand early.
Clarendon's jumper with 2:15 remaining pushed the score to 44-24, and the senior added another layup on a fast break for her 13th point of the half as Cal went into the break holding a 49-29 lead.
Cal steadily improved its lead in the second half with Caldwell scoring seven points in the middle of an 11-0 run that gave the Bears a 71-36 lead with 11:07 remaining in the game. Brandon collected her 10th rebound of the game on a three-pointer by Lyles to with seven minutes remaining to earn the double-double. Boyd then reeled off seven consecutive points on three fast break lay-ups and a free throw to give Cal an 87-43 advantage.
"I think that I am more under control," Boyd said of her improvements from last season to this year. "I understand the offense a lot better now and the defense a lot better, and I understand what the coaches are asking from me so I think that I am better at communication between the coaches and me."
The teams traded baskets over the final two minutes as Cal walked away with the 98-57 exhibition victory. Vanguard's Nicole Ballestero led all scorers with 21 points but was hassled all night by the Cal front court and was forced into committing nine turnovers on the evening.
California opens the regular season next week when they host Lehigh Friday, Nov. 9 at Haas Pavilion. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.