Cal tops UCSB 69-45 to remain undefeated, Bears move to 9-0

Cal moves to 9-0 after beating UCSB

BERKELEY – California (9-0) overcame a slow start at home against UC Santa Barbara (2-8) Sunday afternoon to remain undefeated with a 69-45 victory. With finals week behind them, the Bears started out slow as UCSB jumped out to a 7-3 lead fueled junior center Natalia Bruening and junior guard Coco Miller. With a layup from junior CJ West in the last 30 seconds of the quarter, Cal took its first lead of the game, 8-7.

“Our players had a lot going on,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said when discussing the team’s slow start and the burden of finals week. “They were able to focus when I asked them to even if they weren’t physically at their peak, you know when you’re studying and doing other things. They’re starting to really understand that each game gives you a test to learn and figure out things. I was proud of our effort today against a team that as you guys know means a lot to me, the program where I got my start as a head coach.

Second Quarter Pick Up

Gottlieb was the head coach of UCSB from the 2008 to 2011 season.

The offense for both teams picked up in the second quarter with Cal going on an 8-2 run before UCSB junior guard Tal Sahar began draining trey after trey. She made an impressive five 3-point shots, helping her team earn a 24-22 lead before Cal called a timeout at 2:56 in the second quarter, regrouped and stopped her streak.

“The first message to me was to call a timeout sooner to get us locked in,” Gottlieb said when asked what her team needed to do to halt Sahar. “But really ,I think we had to be more focused on her. When a kid’s that hot you got to make her do something else.”

The Bears focused on making Sahar put the ball on the floor and getting her out of her comfort zone. Cal held UCSB scoreless for the remainder of the quarter, putting together an 11-0 run to go into halftime leading 33-24.

The second half saw the Bears dominate UCSB, outscoring the Gauchos 19-10 in the third quarter and 17-11 in the fourth period.

Cal senior center Kristine Anigwe led her team with 18 point and 16 rebounds. The rebounding total included 11 offensive boards, one short of her career record. She is near the 1,000-career rebounding mark with a total of 994 after Sunday’s game.

“I think Kristine showed us some things today that are going to be really important for our team and for her in the future,” Gottlieb said about Anigwe’s overall performance. “She can do a lot of things on the defensive end on the perimeter as well as in the post.”

While Anigwe was the only Golden Bear in double figures, nine other Cal players scored for a balanced offensive effort. Mo Mosley came off the bench for eight points, providing a spark for the Bears when they put the brakes on Sahar’s three-point shooting late in the second quarter.

“The most terrific spark off the bench” is how Gottlieb described Mosley. “She had our highest plus minus in terms of efficiency in the game.”

Sahar, who shot 60 percent from beyond the arc, paced UCSB with a season-high 20 points. She was the only Gaucho in double figures.

“We had good looks for Tal with great screens. She had great rhythm in this game,” UCSB head coach Bonnie Henrickson said in her postgame interview on UCSB’s radio show.

A Coaching Tree in the Making

In addition to facing a team that she coached in the past, Gottlieb had the chance to see a former Cal player beginning a career in the profession on the opposite bench. Eliza Pierre, a member of Cal’s 2013 Final Four team, is in her second season as an assistant coach for the Gauchos. Gottlieb addressed the emotions of seeing a former player start a journey in coaching.

“Nothing bittersweet, just sweet to me, to watch a former player be able to be successful in this profession,” said Gottlieb.

While she was glad that Cal had a good game, she was also mindful of Pierre.

“You know you never want anyone that you care about to lose a game but more so she’s a young coach who is making a name for herself who is doing great and particularly at a place that’s important to me. So, it’s just it’s all positive and it’s really cool to see her doing her thing.”

The Bears face the top team in the nation, UConn, next Saturday at Haas at 12 p.m. the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. It will be the first time in program history that Bears host the No. 1 team. The evening before the game, the Bears will host a panel discussion moderated by Gottlieb that will feature UConn’s head coach, Geno Auriemma, and the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr.

UC Santa Barbara heads home to host Cal Baptist on Wednesday.


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