BERKELEY – Reshanda Gray posted her second double-double of the season and No .17 California never trailed in a 65-51 victory over Northwestern Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.
Gray put up 23 points – one shy of her career-high – and added 10 boards to propel the Bears (3-2) to the victory, the second straight after setbacks at Duke and George Washington. For good measure, the junior forward added a career-best with two steals in the game.
“I definitely put in a lot of work,” Gray said. “I know I’m going to play a lot of minutes this year, so I have to raise my level up to the next game.”
Afure Jemerigbe had another solid outing at home with 16 points and seven rebounds. In Cal’s last game at Haas Pavilion, Jemerigbe put up the exact same numbers in the loss against No. 2 Duke. Both outputs were necessary against the Blue Devils, and with junior leader Brittany Boyd only playing 14 minutes Sunday afternoon before fouling out, Jemerigbe’s presence on the glass and on the offensive end were again important factors in the Golden Bear victory.
“I just tried to be aggressive,” Jemerigbe said. “We had a little lull midway through the first half, and I just tried to do what I do best…take it to the rack, and (if) they foul me, make my free throws and just focus and do little things.”
The loss was the first of the season for Northwestern (4-1), with star forward Nia Coffey limited to seven points after entering the weekend averaging 18.3 points per game. The only Wildcat to hit double-figures scoring was sophomore Maggie Lyon who put up 17 points.
Freshman Courtney Range was tasked with helping to shut down Coffey, and Range responded by out-rebounding her counterpart 13-10. The 13 rebounds marked the fourth time in five games this year that Range led the Bears in rebounding, and she added seven points to go assert herself down low.
As a team, California won the rebounding battle 47-39.
“I thought it was a good win for us today,” California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “(Northwestern was) a team coming in with a lot of confidence at 4-0…obviously we didn’t expect Boyd to play 14 minutes and foul out (but) I think other people stepped up. Some of the young kids are growing up as we go, and these minutes are going to be valuable down the road as we start to get everybody back. We’re working to be a great team. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I thought there were some positive steps today, and I’m happy to get a win against a very good Northwestern team.”
The Bears began the game on a 9-0 run in the first four minutes and never looked back. Gray, the Pac-12’s leader in field goal percentage, scored seven points in the opening run and finished 9-of-13 from the field along with 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
“We’re down post players, so I knew I had to step up and be a leader,” Gray said. “Plus Boyd was out and everything runs through her. So when she’s off the floor, then the next person, which is Afure and myself had to step up and lead our team and keep them calm.”
The Bears head to Reno this weekend to take on Wake Forest in the Nugget Classic on Friday afternoon. Idaho and the host Nevada Wolf Pack will play in the other game Friday night.