Feb. 25, 2012
BERKELEY - The California Golden Bears locked up a second place finish in the Pac-12 with a 64-43 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. Junior guard Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 15 points.
The Golden Bears opened up a 14-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game. The Bears capitalized on five Buffalo turnovers while starting the game making seven of their first eight shots. The Buffs, however, got back into the contest, with Lexy Kresl draining a pair of three pointers to make it a 16-10 contest. Senior center Talia Caldwell stopped a Colorado run by battling down low to put in a reverse layup to give Cal an 18-10 advantage with 13:07 left in the half. Another three narrowed the gap to three, 18-15, with 11:30 left in the half. After Colorado had two chances to take the lead and failed, sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert hit Cal's first three of the game to give Cal a 21-17 lead with just under ten on the clock.
The Buffaloes tied the game, 22-22, with 7:30 left in the first half. Caldwell dribbled baseline to get herself in position for a layup. The Bears forced another turnover, setting up an opportunity for junior guard Layshia Clarendon to hit a pull-up jumper, putting Cal up 26-22. A three-pointer by junior guard Eliza Pierre built a 31-22 cushion with just over four minutes left in the half.
The Bears went into the break leading 38-25.
The Buffaloes threatened midway through the second half, pulling within seven, 40-33, with 13:30 left in the game. Clarendon pulled up for a jumper seven feet from the basket to push the lead back to 42-33. Clarendon added a fastbreak layup to put Cal back up by double digits, 44-33. Clarendon drained a wide-open three from the right corner with just under nine to play, her 15th points of the game, to give Cal a 49-36 advantage. After a miss by the Buffs, freshman point guard Brittany Boyd fed the low post with freshman forward Reshanda Gray getting the layup to give Cal a 51-36 lead with eight and a half left to play.
After the Buffaloes hit a layup at the 7:56 mark making it a 51-38 game, the Bear defense took over, forcing five missed shots and a turnover, with the Buffs clanking three free throws off the mark as well over a span of four minutes, 44 seconds, with the Bears pushing out to a 58-39 lead.
After the two teams traded baskets, sophomore guard Mikayla Lyles hit a jumper after getting a feed from Pierre, to push the Bears to their first 20-point lead of the game, 64-43, with 1:14 remaining. Neither team scored in the final minute with the game ending with that same margin.
"I thought this was a signature Cal win for this team because of the way we won," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "We have seven people off the bench who know what they are doing, can make plays. I think that's a credit to how this team wants to be known, which is a true team and be happy for each other and that the success of the team will raise everybody up. It was a really fun game today and I'm proud of the defensive effort of our players."
The victory, Cal's 13th of the season, locks up a second place finish for the Bears in the conference and guarantees Cal the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament. It is just the third time in program history that a Bear team has won 13 conference games in a season and is also just the third time that the Bears will finish in second place in the Pac-12. The 2007-08 and 2008-09 teams both had 15-3 records, good for second place alone in 2007-08 and a tie for second in 2008-09.
"I'm just really, really happy for these players and our program to be able to win a big game at home, to be able to lock up second place," Gottlieb said. "We had a really great game today. We talked, coming out, about intensity. I thought that was a difference maker in the second half against Utah, and we wanted to play forty minutes with that. I was really pleased with the way that we not only we made looks tough for a very potent Colorado offense, but also we were disruptive which leads to our offense."
Layshia Clarendon led the Bears in scoring for the fourth straight game. Claredno scored 15 points with four assists (to zero turnovers) and five rebounds.
The Bears still have one regular-season game remaining before heading to Los Angeles for the the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament. The second half of the Battle of the Bay will be played on Sunday, March 4 in Berkeley with the Bears hosting the Pac-12 Champion Stanford Cardinal at 6 p.m. It is a Cal Kids Day with all youth general admission tickets priced $1. Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to avoid lines on the day of the game.
The March 4 Stanford game will also be carried live as the national game on Fox Sports Net and locally on CSN Bay Area.
Please note the date of the Battle of the Bay is SUNDAY, MARCH 4. The game date was moved back in September to make this a national TV game. Tickets with the March 3 date on them may be used at the gate without having to exchange them at the box office.