Cal's women's basketball team can't afford to play without starting point guard Brittany Boyd for an extended period of time. But the sixth-ranked Bears showed Friday night what they have at other times this season - they are built to withstand a hiccup or two in their playing rotation.
Boyd missed Friday's game against Oregon with an injured groin, but Cal received important contributions from Afure Jemerigbe and Mikayla Lyles in a 77-55 victory in front of 2,673 at Haas Pavilion.
Jemerigbe had 13 points, six rebounds and a career-high four assists without committing a turnover in 32 minutes. Lyles, meanwhile, played a season-high 25 minutes and had eight points and five rebounds.
"I thought a lot of people stepped up," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "Several people did the small individual things to lead to the better collective effort. We really showed we are balanced and versatile."
Jemerigbe has started all 26 games this season, but with stars like Layshia Clarendon, Gennifer Brandon and Boyd, she doesn't always grab many of the headlines. But the former prep All-American is a glue player that does a little bit of everything for the Bears.
"With Brittany out, I knew I had to step up," Jemerigbe said. "The coaches wanted everyone to step up. The token was given to me and I stepped up a little bit."
Lyles also made a huge difference. She came in averaging just 11.4 minutes per game but was a steadying force on the floor throughout the evening. Lyles has produced before this season - she had 14 points and seven rebounds in the Bears' 67-55 win over Stanford on Jan. 13.
"Mikayla always gives us a lift," Gottlieb said. "The way this team is built, we can withstand someone being out or someone having a bad shooting night. Mik is the same whether she plays two minutes or 25 minutes. I talked to Mik after shootaround, not to tell her she's going to play more minutes, but that she needs to be really dialed in on Oregon. Mik is such a leader that she probably knew that meant more minutes for her."
For a first-place team playing a last-place team, the first half was a little too close for comfort for the Bears. After racing out to a 10-0 lead, Cal trailed 19-18 with 3:49 left before halftime. But the Bears then went on a 12-2 run to take a 30-21 lead at the break. Lyles hit a pair of 3-pointers during the stretch.
The Ducks (4-23, 2-13) were still within striking distance at 37-30 with 16:54 remaining, but the Bears went on a 10-0 run to take control.
"I was really happy with our second half," Gottlieb said. "I loved the way we started. I thought we didn't miss a beat. Then we went into a shooting drought, and that zapped our energy a bit. But I thought we responded and came out with great energy in the second half, and with or team great energy often leads to good things happening."