Nov. 20, 2011
BERKELEY - The Golden Bears earned their second 24-point victory of the week with a 80-56 dismantling of Illinois Sunday at Haas Pavilion. Freshman Justine Hartman had a 17-point performance to lead the Bears.
With the game tied 5-5 in the early going, sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert drained back-to-back three pointers from the left side. Freshman Justine Hartman followed with the first of what would be eight layups in the game. After a third Illinois miss. junior center Talia Caldwell muscled a layup to cap a ten-point Cal lead, giving Cal a 15-5 advantage.
Illinois showed they weren't about to go away, edging back into the game when freshman point guard Brittany Boyd showed her flash, dribbling past and around three players, driving to the hoop, scoring a basket and getting fouled for the three-point play, giving Cal a 24-17 lead with 8:23 left in the first half.
Sophomore guard Gennifer Brandon, who has been a dominant defensive force since returning to the court after sitting out the 2010-11 season with a stress fracture in her shin, showed her power on offense, battling in the low post with three defenders on her, overpowering them and stuffing the ball in to return Cal to an 11-point lead, 32-21, with 2:30 left in the first half.
The Bears went into the locker room, leading 36-25.
Illinois cut the lead to six, 44-38, on a layup by Lydia McCully with 13:49 left in the game. A steal by Boyd set up a fast break by Hartman who converted the basket and was fouled on the play. She made the free throw to put Cal up, 47-38. Hartman blocked the next Illini shot attempt, with junior guard Layshia Clarendon grabbing the rebound. Sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe missed a jumper, with Hartman grabbing the o-board and getting the stick back. In the matter of 1:13 seconds, the Bears were back up by 11, 49-38, with just over 12 minutes to play.
Illinois again cut the lead to single digits, 60-52, with five and a half minutes remaining. Boyd went to the free throw line on back-to-back possessions, giving Cal four points of breathing room. A three-pointer from Clarendon from the left corner with 4:23 remaining pretty much sealed the game, giving Cal a 67-52 lead.
In the final five and a half minutes of the game, Cal outscored Illinois, 20-4, to come away with the 80-56 victory.
"This is an exciting win in our building, the kind of win you can really smile about," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "Today, we saw a little adversity. We got into foul trouble early in the first half. We talk all the time about the depth of our post group. You saw that today. I also thought our guards really responded to the last game and got the ball inside to get it back out, and then we knocked down shots. A lot of things to be happy about."
Boyd, in her second career start, scored 13 points with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
The Cal bench, for the third consecutive game, contributed more than 40 points. Hartman led the way with 17. Freshman forward Reshanda Gray had her third consecutive double-digit scoring effort, putting up 11, including going 7-for-9 from the free throw line.
Cal had a strong defensive game. Brandon led the Bears with 11 rebounds. Cal outrebounded the Illini, 42-24.
"I thought we did a really, really good job controlling the boards," said Gottlieb. "They only got four offensive rebounds and that is something that is a strength of theirs. We dominated the boards a little bit. I thought we got stops on defense. It was our best defensive game by far."
With the win, the Bears improve to 2-1 on the season. Illinois falls to 2-3. It was the second 24-point margin of victory for the Bears after they defeated Sacramento State 85-61 earlier in the week.
The staff and players were all wearing orange ribbons during the game and a moment of silence was held pregame to honor the memory of Oklahoma State coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna and the other two victims of the Thursday evening plane crash.
"I wanted to say that Cal women's basketball lends our love and prayer and support to the families of Miranda [Serna] and Kurt Budke and their team," said Gottlieb. "It was an unthinkable thing. Miranda was a friend of mine. We are sending our thoughts there, to Stillwater. It was a big part of this day for us today."
The Bears will have a tough week ahead of them, playing in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu over the Thanksgiving holiday. Cal will play three games in three days, taking on host-school Hawaii on Friday, Texas on Saturday and Virginia on Sunday.