After a competitive first three quarters, defensive adjustments by the Golden Bears (19-11, 10-9) in the final frame smothered the Washington State (9-21, 4-14) offense. Cal’s 77-58 victory was an impressive win for a program that is hoping to get into the NCAA tournament.
WSU went ice cold at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as Cal went on a 13-3 run to take a commanding lead over the tenth seeded Cougars. At teams it seemed as if the decision making was rushed in the face of a Golden Bears defense that kept the offense around the three point line, while also not giving WSU too many chances to fire off uncontested threes.
They did a great job of smothering the ball and limiting the Cougars passing lanes. Without the ball movement, Washington State was unable to create space within the defense and it killed the Cougs offensive production.
Unfortunately for Washington State, the wheels kind of came off for the offense in the third quarter as they struggled to move the ball to open up the Golden Bears zone defense. Cal took on the tactic of guarding the perimeter and not giving the Cougars too many lanes. This forced awkward shots from WSU and some confused looks from Chanelle Molina as the junior struggled to locate open teammates; it seemed like Kristine Anigwe was always in her way whenever she had the ball. There was one play that stuck out to me, where Anigwe was using her arms to obscure Molina’s field of vision while she was near the charity stripe, then another Cal player (didn’t catch the jersey number) snuck up behind her and took the ball right out of her hands.
The Golden Bears kicked off the second quarter with a 12-1 run that seemed to send Washington State’s young roster into panic mode. Several contested threes were chucked up in a hope to get the Cougs within striking distance prior to the half. It was after one of these missed threes that Ethridge called for a timeout out; coming out of the timeout the offense seemed to get sorted as the Cougs went on a 12-5 run to close out the first half trailing by two, 34-36.
Despite Cal’s big run at the beginning of the second quarter, the Cougs offense still did a remarkable job of controlling the ball -was they only turned the rock over once in the first half. The biggest problem was contested shots that no one had a chance of pulling in because there was no one wearing crimson near the hoop.
After the first quarter, Washington State had a 21-18 lead thanks to an efficient offense that turned the ball over zero times. They’re scoring had come from Molina as she led all scorers with nine points. Unlike they’re previous match-up four days ago, WSU’s defense did a good job of defending the perimeter as the quarter came to an end and it allowed them to escape with the lead.
Anigwe led all scorers with 27 points, but WSU’s Molina was close on her heals with 24. The Cougar offense was unable to find a secondary scoring threat on Thursday night, Borislava Hristova was the only other player in double digits with 10 points, and it doomed their offensive attack once Cal shut down the passing lanes.