Jan. 22, 2012
BERKELEY - The California Golden Bears held onto second place in the Pac-12 by holding on to a 60-55 victory over the Washington State Cougars Sunday in Berkeley. In a see-saw game with 12 lead changes and seven ties, the game was decided in the final minute with Layshia Clarendon scoring four of her 15 points to secure the win.
The Bears and Cougars set the tone for the game early with the two teams trading baskets with their first several possessions. After the game was knotted at 4-4, the Bears went on a run with a rainbow three from sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert gave Cal an 11-4 lead and set up the first comeback bid of the game. The Cougars tied the game, 11-11, on a three pointer by Sage Romberg with 13:45 left in the first half.
Cal would not hit another three the rest of the game. Washington State would only make one more the entire contest with the two teams going a combined 3-for-19 from three point range.
After Washington State took a brief lead, 13-11, Cal retied the game on a layup from freshman point guard Brittany Boyd. Sherbert followed, grabbing a steal and racing down court for the fastbreak layup to give Cal the 15-13 lead.
After Washington State pulled within one, 18-17, Cal went on another run, extending their lead to a game-high eight points, 27-19, on a layup by redshirt sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon. After cutting the lead back to four, 27-23, a pair of free throws from Talia Caldwell followed by a jumper by Clarendon gave Cal a 31-23 advantage with 1:58 left in the half. Neither team could get the ball into the hoop in the final two minutes of the half and the teams went into the locker room with that same score.
The Bears still had an eight point advantage, 42-34, with 11:07 left in the game. The Cougars went on a run, pulling to within three, 42-39, with 9:06 remaining. Boyd found Clarendon right under the hoop for two points, seemingly stopping the run, but WSU's Romberg hit their other three-point basket eight seconds later to make it a three-point game. Cal tried to counter with Sherbert making a three-point attempt. The ball bounced around the hoop and looked like it was going to go in, but then bounced back onto the court where it was scooped up by the Cougars with their point guard, April Cook, scoring a transition layup to tie the game, 44-44.
In the next frantic 2:22, there were six lead changes. The Cougars had the seventh lead change with Berkeley native Jazmine Perkins scoring a layup with 4:33 remaining to give WSU a 51-50 lead. They Cougars added another basket with 3:38 on the clock to take a 53-50 lead.
Washington State's forward, Carly Noyes, was fouled with 2:51 left in the game, giving WSU a chance to extend the lead to five. Noyes missed both free throws. Boyd grabbed the rebound, setting up a chance to find freshman forward Reshanda Gray down low to cut the lead to one, 53-52. After Boyd stole the ball away from Perkins, she was fouled and sent to the line, making one free throw to tie the game, 53-53, with 1:40 left in the game. After she missed the second free throw, Brandon came up with the rebound. Brandon went up for a jumper, but had her shot blocked. Despite the block, Brandon came up with the offensive rebound and made a basket, getting fouled in the process. She hit her free throw to give Cal a three-point lead, 56-53, with 1:32 remaining.
On the opposite end of the court, Romberg put up a jump shot, missing, but got fouled as she pulled in the offensive rebound. She hit both free throws to again make it a one-point game, with Cal up 56-55 with 1:16 left on the clock.
Brandon missed a layup with 1:02 on the clock, but corralled the rebound and Cal reset the offense, finding Clarendon in front of the hoop as she pulled up for a jumper and made it to give Cal a 58-55 lead with 41 seconds remaining.
Romberg tried for a three to tie on the opposite end, missing. Gray came up with the rebound. She dished it off to Clarendon who was fouled and sent to the free throw line. Clarendon made both free throws to put Cal up, 60-55.
Perkins threw up a desperation three with four seconds left in the game. She missed, Cal rebounded the ball, and held on for the win.
"There is meaning in different kinds of wins," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "As a perfectionist and a basketball coach, you always want it to look really pretty and to be clean, but sometimes there is value in the ones that aren't as clean. I was really proud of our team today for gutting out a really tough win. I really credit Washington State. They come in here and give us problems all the time. They are at the top of the conference for a reason. They play a very difficult style to play against. And those kids play really, really hard. So I was happy that we were able to respond to what wasn't maybe our best all-around game, but I thought we were good in situational things down the stretch. I thought players stepped up and made big plays and we did just enough to get the win and I am happy with that."
Layshia Clarendon, who scored just two points in the first half, ended the game with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Clarendon came into the game needing 16 points to join Cal's 1,000 point club. She will head into next week's game at Stanford with 999 career points.
Brittany Boyd again flirted with a triple double with nine points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. She also had four steals.
Gennifer Brandon had her seventh double double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win and USC's loss on Saturday at Oregon State, the Bears move into second place in the Pac-12 with a 6-2 conference mark and a 15-5 overall record. It is the sixth victory in a row for the Bears, their longest winning streak since winning six games in a row in the 2010 post season en route to their WNIT championship.
Washington State falls to 9-10 (3-4 Pac-12). Because of the unbalanced Pac-12 schedule, this is the only time during the regular season the two teams will face one another.
The Bears will head to Stanford next week for the first Battle of the Bay of the season. The Bears and first-place Cardinal will tip off at 2:00 p.m. at Stanford. The game will not be televised.