Nov. 9, 2012
BERKELEY - Junior Gennifer Brandon played under the weather but felt sky high after posting a double-double in No. 13 California's 80-48 season-opening victory against Lehigh Friday night at Haas Pavilion.
Brandon posted 17 points and 10 rebounds to pace a balanced Golden Bear attack that featured five different scorers hitting double figures. Sophomore Brittany Boyd tallied 16 points, senior Layshia Clarendon added 14 and the duo of Afure Jemerigbe and Reshanda Gray both scored 10 points to cap the night.
Things may have been different for the visiting Mountain Hawks if Brandon's illness was threatening enough to sideline her from the game. Fortunately for the Golden Bears, the redshirt junior was determined to hit the court regardless of how she felt.
"Hopefully it's just a minor cold (but) I was going to play," Brandon said. "If I could walk, I knew I could run."
Brandon and her teammates ended up running hard out the gate, collecting a 14-0 lead and holding the Mountain Hawks scoreless for over six minutes in front of the crowd of 3,528 at Haas Pavilion.
Jemerigbe opened the scoring with a put-back on an offensive rebound and followed the effort with consecutive steals that led to baskets by Brittany Boyd and Layshia Clarendon. Content to join the party, Clarendon then collected a steal of her own and landed a jumper for the eight-point lead.
The Bears closed the game-opening run with two more layups by Boyd along with a jumper by Reshanda Gray for the 14-0 lead just five minutes into the game. Following a trey by Lehigh's Marybeth Egan, the Bears then pushed the lead to over 20 with another run (15-4) to make the score 29-7 with eight minutes to go in the first half.
The lead swelled to as many as 26 in the opening stanza before the teams went into the break with California leading 44-20. The Golden Bears used a balanced second half to keep the margin at a comfortable pace en route to the 80-48 victory. California collected 14 assists on the night - led by senior Eliza Pierre's six - to post a positive assist-to-turnover ratio courtesy of 12 steals from a combined seven players.
"There was really good energy all the way around, but we got sloppy at times," California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "It was a good way to start, and we'll be ready to go in practice tomorrow."
Despite not being able to unveil the three post-player rotation amongst the many lineups Gottlieb was able to use, the Bears collected a 53-35 rebounding edge.
"We didn't use the big lineup, and that was partly because (Lehigh) was sitting in a zone," Gottlieb said. "We wanted to get some minutes for the other guard. We never really had the right flow to do it, but we'll use it."
California returns to Haas Pavilion next Thursday night when Saint Mary's visits for a 7 p.m. tip-off. NOTE: Thursday's game time has been changed to 7 p.m. from the previously announced 11 a.m. tip-off.