Battle of the Bay Part II: Cal looks to get even and celebrates Chinese New Year, Stanford hopes for a sweep
No. 15/15 Stanford (18-5, 8-3 Pac-12) at Cal (11-11, 2-9)
- Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET
- Haas Pavilion (Berkeley, Calif.)
- TV: Pac-12 Bay Area (Mary Murphy and Krista Blunk)
- Streaming: Pac-12.com
- Radio: KALX 90.7 FM (kalx.berkeley.edu) and KZSU 90.1FM (kzsu.stanford.edu)
- Stanford: G Marta Sniezek, G Lili Thompson, G Karlie Samuelson, F Kaylee Johnson, F Erica McCall
- Cal: G Asha Thomas, F Courtney Range, F Mikayla Cowling, F Penina Davidson, C/F Kristine Anigwe
The first game of the 2016 Battle of the Bay between No. 15 Stanford (18-5, 8-3 Pac-12) and unranked Cal (11-11, 2-9) was an intense, competitive contest that ended with the Cardinal earning a 53-46 victory Tuesday night on their home court. Cal was looking to get a third conference victory but Stanford prevailed with a stronger fourth quarter.
“I told our team it wasn’t pretty, but it was gritty,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “People stayed with things really well. This speaks to the strength of our league, when a 2-8 team plays you to the wire. Cal has some really talented players and it was a hard-fought win for us.”
In many statistical categories, the teams were pretty evenly matched. However, Stanford outrebounded the Cal 43-35 and was more prolific from three-point land. Overall, the Bears had an anemic offensive outing, shooting just 26.7 percent from the field. Stanford was not much better at 35 percent. The Bears kept nipping at Stanford’s heels, never trailing in double-digits until the last minute of the game.
“I don’t know if that was one of the prettiest Battles of the Bay,” said Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “But I thought our effort was really good.”
VanDerveer was happy with the win but indicated that her team would have to play better in order to close out the series with a sweep. Junior forward Erica McCall had a double-double in the contest with 11 points and 13 rebounds while junior guard Karlie Samuelson led the team with 15 points along with six rebounds and four assists.
McCall was tasked with defending Cal’s star freshman forward/center Kristine Anigwe. While McCall managed to keep Anigwe below her season average of 20.0 points per game, the freshman still managed to score 17 points to go with seven rebounds. Junior forward Courtney Range added 15 points and five rebounds for the Bears.
For Cal, a major key to a hoped-for victory on Friday is simply to have a better field goal percentage.
“We got a lot of open looks in the first half we will make on Friday,” said Gottlieb.
“We just missed easy layups,”added Range.
Loved our effort tonight. Need to be better on Friday. Can’t wait to start the prep. Cal fans, we need you there Fri night in Haas.
— Lindsay Gottlieb (@CalCoachG) February 3, 2016
“I’d hope if we played on Mars we’d shoot better than 29 percent,” said Gottlieb. “It’s ugly and it hurts to be in this spot but I have no doubt the lessons they are learning in the experience they are getting are going to at some point going to be really critical.”
Even with the loss and a season that has seen its share of ups and downs, including an injury-depleted roster and the personal leave of absence of starting sophomore guard Gabby Green, the young Bears have managed to stay positive and upbeat coming into February.
“I think the last three games have felt better. I have not felt for one second in the locker room that this team has given up.”
Celebrating the Year of the Monkey
Another reason for an optimistic outlook for Cal is the team’s celebration of the Chinese New Year for the game. Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is marked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar and begins Monday, Feb. 8, the onset of the Year of the Monkey. However, all across the Bay area, a region with the highest percentage of residents of Chinese descent in the country, a community that dates back to the 1850s, celebrations will begin this weekend and culminate in a world-renowned festival and night-illuminated parade on Feb. 20.
At Cal, freshman center, Beijing, China product Chen Yue, was instrumental in helping to organize Friday’s Battle of the Bay Chinese New Year Celebration. Yue, is pursuing a degree in marketing and business. The first 1,000 fans at the game will receive a lucky gold envelope (modeled after China’s lucky red envelopes) filled with a surprise. Promotions also include a halftime lion dance act, and in-game videoboard features related to the Chinese New Year. For Cal, the celebration may indeed bring luck as the lucky colors for the Year of the Monkey are white, gold and blue. The unlucky colors for the year include red.
Other basketball-related Bay area events for the Year of the Monkey include a jamboree featuring girl’s and boy’s middle school teams at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center on Saturday in San Francisco.