(Photo by Jevone Moore/Full Image 360)
Courtesy Photo

Berkeley, CA – On Saturday, two undefeated teams squared off before a raucous crowd of 10,818 at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, CA.   The Goliath No 1 ranked UConn Huskies (11-0) touted a starting lineup that possessed 3 players whom were previously ranked as the No 1 high school player in the country.  The Cal Bears (9-0) entered the contest ranked No 14 and put its home grown talent on full display.  The game came down to a few missed shots and the UConn women won the intense battle 76-66.

During the first half, UConn was led by its superstar Katie Lou Samuelson.  Samuelson’s two older sisters played for Cal and Stanford. UConn’s offense is designed to get the ball to the high post at the top of the key.  Players run screens off the high post which creates a one on one opportunity for the individual to score the ball.

Cal has a different style of offense that shoots high volume of three pointers.  However, Cal is anchored by Kristine Anigwe who has amassed 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.  Anigwe came into the game averaging 23.6 points and 13.7 rebounds.  She is the only player in Division 1 with a double-double every game.

During the first half, the ladies battled toe to toe and UConn lead 38-32 at the half.  UConn’s offense was anchored by Samuelson who had 14 points at the half.  UConn was 4-7 for on 3 pointers and shot 62% from the field.  Cal’s Anigwe was an ineffective scorer in the first half, but the Cal women had a local spark plug named Asha Thomas.  Thomas went to Bishop O’Dowd high school which is 15 minutes away from Cal.  Thomas poured in 14 points of her own and facilitated the ball to Cal’s 3 point shooters.  Cal ended the half 8-19 from 3 point land, but only shot 36% from the field.

UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma rarely played any substitutes in the second half.  Cal’s Anigwe came alive and scored on 5 consecutive touches. Unfortunately for Cal, they turned the ball over and missed too many layups that should have been scores.  UConn individual scorers took advantage of Cal blunders and ended the 3rd quarter with a 61-46 lead.

In the final period, Cal made a run off a barrage of 3 pointers.  With 1:14 remaining in the contest, Cal went on a 9-0 run and Cal cut the lead down to 72-66.  Asha Thomas missed a 3 pointer that could of cut the lead to 3 points.  After the miss, Cal had to foul and UConn closed out the game.

UConn is balanced scoring at its finest.  The starting five all contributed points (7, 11, 13, 16, and 20) and never showed signs of panic.  Katie Lou Samuelson had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Napheesa Collier added 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.  Cal’s Asha Thomas made six 3 pointers and finished the contest with 22 points. Anigwe finished the contest with 10 points, but was a force in the second half.

The Cal women all contributed to make this a hard fought contest, but there is simply no room for error when you play the No. 1 ranked UConn Huskies. The nation should be on notice that Cal will be a formidable opponent for any team in the country.  Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb told fans afterward, “UConn really good, but I think these young women in white deserve that you come back.”  Hopefully, there will be rematch in the NCAA tournament.