Dec. 29, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - The best start in school history? It's just taking care of business, says Talia Caldwell, who thinks there are better things ahead for the California women.
Caldwell had a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds to help the No. 8 Golden Bears continue the best start in school history with a 70-43 victory over George Washington on Friday night.
"It feels good to get through the preseason," Caldwell said. "We can look into the Pac-12 and know our identity. We know what we can do and we want to do it better, cleaner and harder."
Layshia Clarendon and Gennifer Brandon each added 12 points for the Bears (10-1), who open their Pac-12 season next week with three of their first four games against ranked opponents -- including No. 1 Stanford twice.
"We need to raise our level but we're ready for this," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "This team has the highest basketball IQ I've ever coached. I think we have unlimited potential. We're taking the court expecting to win. We have a goal of winning the Pac-12 title and I say this even knowing Stanford is the top-ranked team. I have a lot of respect for Stanford."
Reshanda Gray chipped in with 11 points for Cal.
Megan Nipe and Shi-Heria Shipp each scored nine points to lead the Colonials (6-6), who were playing their first ranked opponent of the season. Tara Booker, who brought a .432 field goal percentage into the game, made one of 11 shots and finished with two points. She missed all eight of her long-range attempts.
"We knew coming in how well Cal rebounds the ball," Colonials coach Jonathan Tsipis said. "I felt like they got some easy baskets in the first half and they kept coming after us."
Anjaleace White hit a short jumper with 14:04 remaining to bring the Colonials within 43-32. It was all Cal the rest of the way, with the Bears leading by as many as 31. Tsipis, in his first season as a head coach, was the associate head coach for Notre Dame last year, the team that ended the Bears' season in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"This team is improved," he said of Cal. "Every one of their kids have added something to their game. Their guards are much more active against the zone and they're scoring more in transition."
California took a 39-22 lead into halftime, with the final points coming on free throws after Tsipis was whistled for a technical foul.
The Golden Bears turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes of the second half after coughing it up three times total in the first half.
"GW mixed defenses very well," Gottlieb said. "They kept us off balance a little bit. It was not our best offensive display but they battled through it."
George Washington pulled within 11 but could not take further advantage, hitting three of its first 11 shots after the intermission and turning the ball over twice. California quickly regained its composure and sailed the rest of the way, opening a 20-point advantage at the midway point of the half.
"Sometimes I'm taken back by it," Clarendon said of the team's start. "I think we appreciate it a lot more, seeing all the pieces falling into place. No one is satisfied though. We're just starting."
The Colonials also beat Cal in their only previous meeting, hitting a buzzer beater in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament.
The victory was number 599 for the Cal program.