RENO, Nevada – No. 20 California (5-2) held on behind a 15-point, 8-rebound and 8-assist outing from Brittany Boyd to defeat Idaho, 59-55, and win the John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic championship at the Lawlor Events Center.
Boyd, who was named the tournament MVP after finishing the two-day tournament averaging 14 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7 assists, scored five points in the final 90 seconds to help secure the victory for the Bears – the fourth consecutive for Cal.
“It’s really important for us,” California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said of winning the tournament. “It was a challenge. The first night we had six in double figures and scored over 80 points. Tonight we struggled to score shooting-wise and had to show some heart and grit to win. Being able to win in different ways is important for us. We’re still a team that’s a work in progress, so any positive steps are meaningful for us.”
Reshanda Gray was named to the All-Tournament team with 12 points while freshman Courtney Range recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. However, it was Range’s second steal of the game with two seconds remaining that sealed the win.
With California leading 57-55, Idaho’s Ali Forde rebounded a missed Golden Bear free throw to give the Vandals (4-3) two seconds to pull off a miracle. Range made sure Idaho would have no such attempt by immediately stealing the ball from Forde and sinking two subsequent free throws to give Cal the 59-55 final.
“It’s been huge for us to have them step up into the big time roles that they belong in,” Gottlieb said of Boyd and Gray earning All-Tournament Team honors. “That’s beyond just points and rebounds, assists and steals. It’s about demeanor and leading the team. I thought they both did a spectacular job of that this weekend.”
The Golden Bears won the rebounding battle 56-35, but a cold-shooting night one day removed from their best offensive performance of the season allowed Idaho to get back into the game after trailing by as many as 11 points in the second half.
Cal returns home to take on the Pacific Tigers on Saturday, December 7.