2019 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament: Kristine Anigwe's 31st straight double-double leads Cal to win, matchup with Stanford
By W.G. Ramirez
LAS VEGAS -- Kristine Anigwe 2, Washington State 0.
For the second straight game, California senior Anigwe had her way against the Cougars, and this time it kept the Golden Bears alive in the postseason.
The California senior, recently named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Cal to a 77-58 victory over Washington State on Thursday in the opening round of the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Anigwe, who registered her 23rd game with 20 or more points this season, recorded her 31st consecutive double-double.
Four days prior, on Sunday, Cal defeated the Cougars 80-58 in a game that saw Anigwe register the first 30-30 game in Division I since 2002. It was also Cal's largest margin of victory in a Pac-12 game this season.
"It's pretty neat to see how she can assert her dominance and control the game at any time," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "I think we're at our best when we have shared and balanced scoring, but I think our players know, when we can get the ball to her in her money spots, we do that, and it forces teams to make decisions and double- or triple-team, and then other people are open in their spots. A lot is predicated off getting her the ball, and she does a great job in making decisions. She's just too tough to stop for a lot of teams and certainly one-on-one."
The seventh-seeded Bears (19-11) will next play their Bay Area rival, second-seeded Stanford, in a quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Network. This is the Bears’ 18th straight appearance in this round.
Anigwe finished the game with three blocks, bringing her career tally to 200 — a new Cal record, breaking Charlotte Lusschen's record of 198 set in 1986. Anigwe’s 16 rebounds also tied Cal's single-game record in a Pac-12 Tournament game.
"She doesn't want her season to end," Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge said of Anigwe. "She plays at an unbelievable level possession after possession. And you better bring some big, strong bodies that can get into her and affect some of her shots if you ever want to have a chance of beating them."
Recee Caldwell scored 14 points and matched her season high with nine assists, while Kianna Smith chipped in with 15 points for Cal.
No. 10 Washington State (9-21) was led by Chanelle Molina, who scored nine of her team-high 24 points in the first quarter, when the Cougars took a 21-18 lead.
But Anigwe scored 10 straight points for Cal in the second quarter, sparking a 12-1 run that gave the Bears a 30-22 lead. Washington State got as close as two with a late second-quarter run, as Cal took a 36-34 lead into halftime.
"I think the teammates saw me in the second quarter a lot and we were able to get the lead, and own that and capitalize," Anigwe said. "We allowed our defense to speak for our offense. I think our defense speaks volume, and the second half we really, really dialed in and we weren't going to lose this game."
But with balanced scoring out of the locker room, the Bears were able to put some distance between themselves and Washington State, as four different scorers helped Cal to a 12-6 run that extended its lead to 48-40 midway through the third.
Caldwell was the catalyst in the third quarter, scoring nine of her points in less than six minutes, while also assisting on two buckets.
With a seven-point lead heading into the fourth, the Golden Bears used another dominating run — this time a 13-1 surge — for the final dagger.
W.G. Ramirez is a Las Vegas-based freelance reporter and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez