2016 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament: Penina Davidson, Cal set records in upset of Arizona State
SEATTLE – Kristine Anigwe gets all the attention from the press. Deservedly so – the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year set a Cal freshman record for points scored in a season and a Pac-12 record for eight conference freshman of the week honors during the season. She was especially huge Friday afternoon with her 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead 10th-seeded Cal to a 75-64 upset of No. 2 Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, picking up her 13th double-double of the season in the process.
Those kinds of numbers are why Anigwe gets a ton of attention from opposing teams, and that’s just fine by Penina Davidson. Anigwe’s presence on the court opens things up for Davidson, who has more than taken advantage in Seattle to provide the Golden Bears with another option inside. Entering the Pac-12 Tournament averaging 5.1 points per game, Davidson has scored a combined 29 points in the two games in Seattle so far, including a career-high 17 points in the win over Arizona State.
“I could not have done it without Kristine. She draws so much attention that it creates opportunities for other people,” Davidson said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
It hasn’t been just what she’s done in Seattle – 14.5 points per game on 63 percent shooting – or how she’s done it – dominating inside and showing a deft touch with either hand, but it’s also when she’s made her mark. In Thursday’s first-round 66-63 win over Utah, Davidson scored five of her 12 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a free throw to tie the game late in regulation. On Friday, Davidson provided back-to-back buckets to give Cal the lead for good as part of a momentum-changing 11-2 run to end the half and give the Golden Bears a 33-27 advantage at the break.
“We are so proud of Nina. She is playing like a warrior, a beast, all the good adjectives you can think of, but it’s nothing that we haven’t known her to be capable of,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I think it’s mentality, and it’s confidence. When she plays with that mindset, she’s so good. She has clearly been a gigantic factor in these two games helping us get wins.”
The New Zealand Women's National Team member’s 7-for-8 effort helped the Golden Bears to a Pac-12 tournament-record 69 percent shooting from the field and made Cal the first No. 10 seed to advance to the semifinals of the event. Cal is also only the second double-digit seed to reach the Pac-12 semis, with the Jazmine Perkins-led 11th-seeded Washington State Cougars defeating Oregon State and USC en route to the 2012 semis.
“Someone told me that this is the biggest upset in the history of the Pac-12 Tournament, and I’d just like to say I think that speaks to the strength of our conference,” Gottlieb said. “We felt that kind of in some painful ways with our record, but it’s also ultimately challenged our players to get better and be ready for this tournament.”
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