Cal “freakin’ Bears” explode in third quarter to come from behind and top Arizona State 69-60, snap five-game skid
Cal snaps skid to upset Sun Devils
BERKELEY, Calif. – After taking down Arizona State (18-7, 9-5 Pac-12) Friday night 69-60, Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb began addressing fans in her usual postgame manner, thanking them for their support. But after the hard-fought victory over the top-20 ranked Sun Devils, she ended her speech with “Go freakin’ Bears!” The added flourish to her exclamation underscored how much her team needed a win over a ranked team at this juncture of the season, especially coming after a five-game losing streak.
When Gottlieb talked to media postgame, she started by discussing her predictions about the contest.
“I said that we were going to get it done,” she stated. “That’s simply because of the belief I have in these players and the leadership that we showed. This felt like an NCAA tournament game for a lot of reasons because Arizona State is so darned good. And also, because we were battling for everything that we want to achieve in front of us. This is who we are, this is who we can be.”
With the regular season winding down, Cal (15-11, 6-9) needs to harness the full breadth of their talent in order to enter postseason season play with realistic expectations of earning an NCAA tournament berth.
However, Friday night’s contest did not begin with the Bears putting their best foot forward. While Cal won the tip and senior center Kristine Anigwe had an early opportunity to score, she missed a layup and Arizona State capitalized. Sun Devils senior center Charnea Johnson-Chapman made a second-chance jumper to get her team started and off to a 4-0 lead.
Cal sophomore guard Kianna Smith hit a three-pointer to get the Bears within one, but ASU took off again to end the quarter leading 18-12.
While the second quarter saw the teams appear to be evenly matched, the Sun Devils outscored the Bears 14-13 to go into halftime with a 32-25 lead.
Cal guard and graduate transfer Receé Caldwell led all scorers at the half with 10 while senior center Kristine Anigwe had eight points plus four rebounds. No ASU player scored over seven points but eight of them scored in the first half compared to four players for Cal.
In addition, ASU shot 45 percent for the floor in the first half while Cal made 37 percent of their field goals. The Sun Devils also had 12 points from the bench while Cal’s reserves were scoreless in the first half.
The second half saw the Bears turn the tables. They hit the ground running with a hot start. After a 10-3 run, Cal tied the game, 35 all, at 6:15. With a three-pointer from senior guard Asha Thomas, the Bears took the lead and never looked back.
Cal’s defense kept their opponent at bay. Overall, the Bears outscored the Sun Devils 22-9 in the third period. Cal shot 56.3 from the floor in the third quarter compared to 27.3 percent by the Sun Devils. The Bears also hit 57.1 (4-of-7) percent of their treys in the period compared to zero percent by their opponent.
ASU performed better offensively in the fourth quarter and came close to building momentum but each time they got close to possibly turning the tide, Cal’s defense prevented them from gaining ground. ASU junior guard Reili Richardson made a jumper at 4:12 in the fourth quarter to get her team within three but the Bears immediately responded courtesy of a three-pointer from Caldwell. Cal closed out the game after Richardson’s shot with a 13-7 run.
Anigwe finished the game with 20 points plus 15 rebounds, extending her consecutive double-double streak to 27. She also leads the country in rebounds at 15.7 per game and is now third on the Pac-12 all-time rebounding list passing former Stanford great Kayla Pedersen.
Caldwell also scored 20 points and pulled down five assists. Thomas was also in double figures with 18 points.
Richardson contributed 12 points, four assists and five rebounds for ASU. Redshirt senior guard/forward Courtney Ekmark contributed 10 points plus nine rebounds.
Cal stays at home to host Arizona on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. PT. It will be senior night for the Bears. The game will be streamed online for free.
Arizona State continues their road trip, heading across the Bay to face Stanford on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT. The game will air on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Arizona and Pac-12 Bay Area.