Dec. 22, 2012
BERKELEY - Layshia Clarendon scored a season high 28 points to help lead No. 8 California to an 88-79 victory against No. 19 Kansas Friday night at Haas Pavilion, a victory that matches the best start in program history at 9-1 and gives the Bears another marquee victory in the non-conference season.
Only once had California begun a season 9-1 - the 1992-93 squad was the lone team to accomplish that feat - and the win gave the Bears their first victory over a top 20 opponent at home since knocking off then-No. 9 Stanford, 57-54, at Haas Pavilion on Jan. 18, 2009.
"Our players are so good at staying in the moment," California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "There's no difference in how they play or act between when we play Bakersfield on the road or Northwestern on the road and when we play Stanford. There's obviously an energy level around these kinds of games. From my perspective, I was very conscious of this being a big game. Do I think it's season defining? No. We built this schedule and we built this team to hope for these moments. I just knew this was a terrific opportunity."
Gennifer Brandon added 17 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season, and Talia Caldwell went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field for 12 points, her second double-digit outing of the week for Cal. Reshanda Gray (13) and Afure Jemerigbe (10) rounded out the quintet of double-digit scorers for the Bears, and Brittany Boyd added eight points.
"This was a quintessential Cal win," Gottlieb said. "Different people stepped up at different moments. We challenged them at different points to do better, and I thought they all responded to that. That shows the growth of our team."
Trailing 8-4 early into the contest, Gottlieb called a timeout to reign her team back into the game plan. The tactic worked immediately with the Bears proceeding to go on a 11-0 run over the next three and a half minutes to take a 15-8 advantage and lead that it would not relinquish the rest of the way.
With the Bears leading 33-31 in the final four minutes of the first half, Boyd and Clarendon combined to score the last nine points of the half for Cal to give the Golden Bears a 42-35 advantage at the break, the most points allowed by the Jayhawks in a half this season.
The Bears would never cede the lead the rest of the way, pushing out on a run every time the Jayhawks closed to within two points. California extended its lead to as many as 12 points to give Kansas their second loss of the season.
"I just kept telling the girls to weather the storm," Clarendon said. "They're not going to go away, and they're a great team."
Despite shooting .500 (12-of-24) from the free throw line, the Bears were able to grab the victory courtesy of dominant post play by Brandon, Caldwell and Gray in conjunction with transition baskets from the backcourt players. Of California's 88 points, 64 were scored in the paint.
Cal concludes non-conference play next Friday when George Washington comes to Haas Pavilion for a 7 p.m. tip.