Dec. 8, 2011
MORAGA, Calif. -
It was raining threes in Moraga on Thursday night as the California Golden Bears' outside shooting in the first half propelled the team to a 65-55 victory over the Saint Mary's Gaels. Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd scored a team-high 15 points with six assists.
The Bears took a 5-0 lead in the first minute of the game after junior guard Layshia Clarendon hit a wide-open three from the right corner followed by a steal and fast break layup by freshman point guard Brittany Boyd.
Clarendon's opening shot was a preview of what was to come in the game. With Saint Mary's playing zone, the Bears were able to pass around it and get their shooters open. The Bears took full advantage of the open shots, going 8-13 from the three-point line in the first half. Seven of Cal's first eight field goals were three pointers.
Cal's fourth three, by sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert, gave Cal a 16-4 lead six minutes into the game.
The Gaels found some home court mojo, mounting an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to four, 16-12, with 11:05 left in the half.
Cal ended the run with a three-pointer, Clarendon's third of the half, to go back up, 19-12, with just over ten minutes left in the first half. Clarendon was 3-for-3 from long range to start the game and just narrowly missed her fourth attempt a few moments later.
Sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe hit two first half treys and Boyd added the eighth, giving Cal a 38-24 lead at the break.
The Gaels pulled within nine, 44-39, on their first made-three of the game, hit by Morgan Hatten, with just under 13 to play. After the Gaels blocked a Cal shot, they got a layup on the opposite end to narrow the gap to seven, 44-37, twenty seconds later.
The Bears relied on their posts to get back in control. A layup by sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon on a feed from Boyd into the low post ended the run. Brandon got a defensive board on the opposite end set up a Cal possession. Brandon sent a perfect feed into the low post for freshman forward Justine Hartman, who put Cal back up by double digits with the make, 48-37, with ten and a half to go. A block and rebound by Hartman turned into a jumper by Boyd to give Cal a 50-37 advantage with 9:19 to play.
The Gaels threatened to cut the lead to single digits with just over three minutes remaining when Clarendon pulled up for a short range jumper to give Cal a 58-45 lead. Saint Mary's cut the lead on an and-one, but Jemerigbe answered with a layup, making it a 61-48 game with 2:20 to play.
Cal held a 63-53 lead going into the final minute of the game. The Bears got a defensive stop on Saint Mary's first possession of the final sixty seconds with junior forward Talia Caldwell grabbing the rebound and immediately being sent to the line where she made one of her two free throws. On the next possession, it was another defensive stop and a defensive board by Jemerigbe who made both of her free throws to put Cal up 65-53 with 30 seconds left.
The Bears held on for their seventh victory of the year, improving to 7-2. Saint Mary's fell to 5-4.
"This is one where we are certainly happy to get the win, get our stuff, go home, and take away from it what we can," said Gottlieb. "Saint Mary's is a team that plays 100 percent man-to-man defense that came out in a zone, and we looked poised and confident. Our shooters knocked down shots. They run ball screens almost 100 percent of the time on offense. We had a game plan against that. I thought we came out great and got them out of that."
The Bears did not hit a single three in the second half and only made four three-point attempts, finishing the game 8-for-15 from three point range.
"We know we have good shooters," Gottlieb said. "We try to play inside out. Most games, even when teams have played zone, we have been able to pound it inside. Tonight, they were so packed in, our shooters were wide open. I couldn't tell if that was by design, or because they don't really play zone and so they are slow to rotate to the shooters. That was a product of our ball movement and our confidence against the zone."
Boyd had a team-high 15 points with six assists. Clarendon (14) and Jemerigbe (11) also ended in double figures.
The Bears are back home on Saturday, Dec. 10 when they host Santa Clara at 2 pm at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, the first of three straight home games heading into Christmas break.