Feb. 23, 2012
BERKELEY - The California Golden Bears scored 17 straight points to break open a game that was knotted at the half, holding on for a 60-46 victory over the Utah Utes. Talia Caldwell had a double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Golden Bears got off to a blistering start, putting on the full court press to grab two steals in the first two minutes, going up 6-0. After an early time out called by the Utes, the game slowed down with Utah packing in the defense in the paint, causing Cal to miss seven straight highly-contested shots. After Utah pulled to within one, junior center Talia Caldwell scored a basket to end the Bears drought, making it an 11-8 game with just under 13 minutes left to play.
The Bears pushed the lead back out to five on three different occasions, but could never extend it. Each time, the Utes answered. Utah tied the game, 20-20 with 3:43 remaining and then took their first lead of the game, 22-20, at the three minute mark. Sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe attacked the basket, getting a layup to retie the game. Thirty seconds later, Utah's point guard, Iwalani Rodrigues, hit a three pointer. Jemerigbe countered on the other end, knotting the game at 25 with just under two to play.
The two teams went into the locker room at the break with the third tie of the game, 27-27.
Junior guard Layshia Clarendon got Cal started in the second half, hitting a jumper to start the second half. Freshman forward Reshanda Gray followed with a layup to give Cal a 31-27 lead with 18:30 left in the game. After junior guard Eliza Pierre grabbed a steal and raced down court to make a layup, the Bears had a 6-0 run to start the second half and a 33-27 lead. Clarendon added a pull-up jumper with 15 minutes left, extending the run to 8-0.
The Utes scored their first points of the second half at the 11:57 mark, when a feed to the low post went into the basket. The layup ended the Cal run, which the Bears had extended to 17-0, with the Bears holding a 44-29 advantage.
During the eight minute stretch the Bears kept Utah off the scoreboard, the Utes only missed six shots, but turned the ball over seven times. The Bears, on the other end, started the second half making seven of their first 11 field goal attempts. Clarendon scored ten points during that run.
Utah began pounding the ball inside, with a series of layups from Taryn Wicijowski narrowing the gap to 11, 48-37. Another pull-up jumper from Jemerigbe gave Cal some breathing room and a 50-37 lead heading into the final six minutes.
The Utes again threatened to narrow the gap to single digits, trailing 52-41 when the Utes head coach was hit with a technical foul. Clarendon made one of the two free throws. Caldwell was fouled on the ensuing possession, making one of her two free throws to give Cal a 54-41 lead heading into the final three minutes of the game. A third-chance point by Caldwell extended the Cal lead to 56-42 with 2:25 remaining.
The Bears held on for the 60-46 win.
"It was a really hard fought win tonight," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "I credit Utah - they play a really unique style and they play it well. I thought they did a good job coming in here, especially with their point guard going down earlier in the week with an injury and I thought they made it their kind of game in the first half. I love the resolve of our team, to come back out in the second half and assert our will on the game."
For the Utes, it was a two player show with Taryn Wicijowski and Iwalani Rodrigues combining to score 40 of the team's 46 points.
For the Bears, it was a more well-rounded effort.
Layshia Clarendon, who was recognized before the game for her recent accomplishment of scoring her 1,000th career points, scored 15 points with six rebounds.
Talia Caldwell had her fourth double double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"I thought Talia's performance was so far beyond these numbers, I couldn't say enough," Gottlieb said. "Her energy, her effort, I think we are a special team and we have our third leading scorer in the post have a game like this because they are all the same, in terms of their ability."
Afure Jemerigbe, playing on her birthday, continued the hot shooting that began for her at Oregon State. She scored nine points, going 4-for-5 from the field and 1-for-1 from three-point range.
"I thought Afure gave great minutes off the bench defensively against Plouffe who they moved to the three, and obviously she was feeling it on offense," Gottlieb said.
Brittany Boyd scored 11 points, all in the first half, with four rebounds.
With the win, the Bears improve to 21-7 on the season and 12-4 in the Pac-12. Utah falls to 13-13 and 6-9 in the Pac-12. The Bears have a 2.5 game lead over USC in the battle for the number two seed in the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament. Cal has two games remaining while the Trojans have three left to play.
The Bears will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 25, hosting the Colorado Buffaloes at 2 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. It is Cal's Pink Game. All fans wearing pink to the game can purchase $3 general admission tickets. It is also a Cal Kids Day with pregame activities from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the plaza and all youth general admission tickets priced $1. There will also be two giveaways and the annual shooting shirt auction.
The Bears close out the regular season on Sunday, March 4 when they host the Stanford Cardinal at 6 p.m., also at Haas Pavilion. Please note: some season tickets list the game date for the Stanford game as March 3. The game date was changed back in September to accommodate television. The game will be played on Sunday, March 4, but any tickets with the March 3 date can be used at the gate without having to exchange them.