The journey to success is a long one and oftentimes immediate victory does not come right away. Consistent progress and effort are instead what marks the path to success. The youthful Cal women’s basketball team experienced another small step forward Friday night with a competitive performance against Colorado, even in defeat.
It was a brawl of a game, with teams scrapping for every point they could get. The experienced Colorado got the victory in the end, grinding out a 64-57 win. Still, for Cal, this game was a far cry from the 50-point road loss earlier in the season, and is part of a quiet string of competitive performances that show hope for the future.
The first quarter was slow and defense focused, as both teams struggled to find their footing at the beginning of the game. The Bears held the Buffs scoreless for more than four minutes to start the game, but failed to fully capitalize. Colorado soon woke up, however, while Cal’s offense struggled to get to its feet. Colorado closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run to finish the period up 14-6.
The Bears’ measly six points came on a dreadful 2-14 shooting including going 0-5 from three. Cal also started slow in its last game against No. 10 UCLA and was forced to chase the game. Getting down early is not a recipe for success, and could have been the difference in several of Cal’s recent losses to the Bruins. Addressing the issue of early inconsistency is key for the team to establish consistent success.
Like they’ve done many times before, however, the Bears bounced back. Cal clawed its way into the game with a 13-3 run in the second quarter, even establishing a lead, before the Buffs regained a 27-23 lead at the end of the second quarter.
The teams went back and forth in the second half, but a 9-2 run by the Buffs helped Colorado establish control in the third quarter. Trailing by as much as 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Bears managed to close the deficit all the way to 5 with 49 seconds left in the game, but that would be as close as Cal would get.
Cal’s upperclassmen controlled the scoring for the Bears. Senior Jaelyn Brown posted a game-high 13 points, but still experienced a difficult night. Her 13 points came on terribly inefficient 4-18 shooting from the field, and she missed all five of her three point attempts on the night.
Her classmate CJ West had a much more effective night in comparison, with her 11 points coming on 5-6 shooting.
Junior Alaysia Styles was the Bears’ third leading scorer on the night, with a solid all around game including 5 rebounds and 3 steals to go along with her 8 points.
Colorado had a trifecta of its own that each posted double figures to propel the Buffs to victory. Redshirt sophomore Aubrey Knight led the team with 12 points, while sophomore Emma Clarke and junior Mya Hollingshed weren’t far behind, with 11 and 10 points respectively.
With the win, Colorado has swept the season series with the Bears. Cal continues its rocky mountain road trip Sunday against Utah at 11 a.m.
Benjamin Coleman covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].