Jan. 12, 2012
BOULDER - After trailing by 12 points with 12 minutes left in the game, the California Golden Bears went on a 17-0 run in the final seven minutes of Thursday's game in Boulder to earn a 68-55 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. Layshia Clarendon led the comeback with 12 second-half points.
Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd helped the Bears race to an early lead. Boyd had two steals that she converted into a pair of fastbreak layups in the first two and a half minutes to give Cal's offense a jumpstart. Redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon also contributed six points in the first four minutes to help give the Bears a 16-8 lead with 15:06 left in the first half. The Bears pushed the lead to double digits, 19-8, on a layup by freshman forward Justine Hartman with 13:23 remaining.
The Buffs three-point shooting got them back into the game, making it a 21-18 contest until another Brandon bucket momentarily snapped the streak but another three-pointer, the Buff's fifth of the half, tied the game 23-23 with 7:58 left in the half. Colorado took its first lead of the game, 25-24, when they broke Cal's first full-court pressure of the game and got a wide open layup on the other end.
The Buffs took their largest lead of the half, 33-26, after scoring a couple of lightning quick transition baskets. A reverse layup by junior guard Layshia Clarendon cut the deficit back to five, 33-28, with just under three minutes left in the half. Brandon made it a 33-30 game with a minute and a half left in the period with a high-arching jumper just inside the three point line. The Buffs answered on the other end, then got a steal and a fastbreak layup to push it back to 37-30 with 30 seconds remaining. The Bears had two chances to score right before the half, but couldn't convert. The Bears headed into the locker room trailing 37-30.
The Bears began the second half with possession, but quickly turned the ball over. Colorado's Chucky Jeffrey drained a three to make it a 40-30 game, the first ten-point deficit the Bears had faced. Sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert hit a three of her own, putting Cal down 40-33.
After trailing by double digits, back-to-back steals by Boyd equated to four points, putting Cal down 51-45 with 10:25 remaining. Clarendon grabbed a steal and raced down to convert a fastbreak layup to make it 51-47 with just under ten to play. After trading misses, Clarendon pulled up for a jumper to make it a 51-49 game.
Colorado held a 55-51 lead with 7:10 left in the game.
Trailing 55-53 with just under six minutes to play, the Bears inbounded the ball under their own basket, throwing the ball out to Sherbert for a three point attempt. Sherbert missed, but Brandon scooped up the rebound, got the putback, and was fouled. She made the free throw, giving Cal a 56-55 lead, their first in the half.
The Bears capitalized on a Buffalo miss with a pull-up jumper by Clarendon, to extend the lead to 58-55 with 5:18 left in the game.
Sherbert drained a three-pointer from the left corner with 3:38 remaining, giving Cal a 62-55 lead. Clarendon added a 16-footer to extend the Cal run to 11-0, putting Cal up 9, 64-55 with 2:42 remaining. After Cal forced Colorado to turn over the ball, the Bears took their time, passing the ball with patience around the key until they found a wide-open junior guard Eliza Pierre who drained another three to put Cal up double digits, 67-55 with just under two to play.
The Bears ended the game on a 17-0 run with Colorado not scoring a point the final seven minutes of the game.
"I'm as proud of this win as any we have had this season," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "I think our players really stepped up. We played like a team. Our depth came through. I am very, very proud of our defensive effort down the stretch and just our ability to suck it up and say 'We can win from behind. We can win in altitude. We can win on the road.' I am very proud of our team tonight."
Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 18 points, 12 of which she scored in the second half. Clarendon also had eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
"[Layshia Clarendon] stepped up like a super star," said Gottlieb. "She is such an unassuming super star. We ask her to distribute and play within the offense and tonight I said, let's ride it. The play she was most excited about was when she passed to [Lindsay Sherbert] and [Sherbert] hit the three."
Brandon scored 17 points with eight rebounds. Brittany Boyd had 12 points and four steals.
With the win, the Bears improve to 12-5 (3-2 Pac-12). The loss is just the second of the season for Colorado, who fall to 13-2 (2-2 Pac-12). It was the first time that Cal has earned a victory over Colorado, with the Buffaloes holding a 5-1 series lead.
The Bears will finish their road trip on Sunday, Jan. 15 when they face the Utah Utes for the first time as a conference opponent.