Cal Hosts San Jose State to Open 2020-21 Season
BERKELEY – The 2020-21 California women's basketball season makes its debut at 4:00pm on Nov. 25, more than eight months since the final buzzer of the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
In the offseason, the Golden Bears have infused the nation's No 7. recruiting class (the program's highest-ranked class since 2009) with six returners, comprising a youthful and promising team of 10 underclassmen who will look to hit their stride together this season. Leading the group are three captains including senior guard Archer Olson along with sophomore forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt and sophomore guard Jazlen Green.
Green enters the season as a Preseason Pac-12 All-Conference Team Honorable Mention, following her Pac-12 All-Freshman Team Honorable Mention at the end of last season. In 2019-20, she led the Bears in scoring in four games, including a team-high 17 points in their 55-54 upset over No. 13 Arizona to end the regular season. Appearing in 29 games, Green ranked second on the team in scoring overall, averaging 8.8 points per game off the bench and 15.3 points during the last three games of the season. She led Cal in both three-pointers made (48) and three-point percentage (36.9%) last season, and also shot 50 percent (16-for-32) from beyond the arc over the last seven games.
Sophomore guard Leilani McIntosh enters her second season after having started all 31 of the Bears' contests last year. The Phoenix, Ariz., native averaged 31.8 minutes per game with 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while leading the team with 123 assists - 3.97 per game (ninth in the Pac-12). Furthermore, her 57 steals (1.84) were the third-most in the conference and the most by any freshman.
The breakdown of Cal's freshman class includes three five-star recruits, one four star and a pair of highly-touted international players. Dalayah Daniels headlines the class as the 13th ranked high school recruit and was named a McDonald's All-American her senior season. She is a two-time Metro League MVP and she led her team to the Metro League Championship in 2019. She is the Golden Bears' 10th McDonald's All-American in the last 10 years and 16th overall. Read the Nov. 2019 signing class release here and about the Bears' final two additions in Apr. here.
After making a statement with her first recruiting class, head coach Charmin Smith enters her second season at the helm after experiencing a number of successes last season, including leading the Golden Bears to three upsets over higher-ranked opponents. The first came in the form of a 4-point victory over No. 20 Arkansas on Nov. 24 and then a win over No. 13 Arizona on the road in the regular season finale. The Bears completed their second upset in the same week as just four days later, they defeated 5-seeded and No. 22-ranked Arizona State in the opening round of the 2020 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. The win over the Sun Devils made the Golden Bears just the second 12-seed to win a game in the Pac-12 Tournament. Smith's efforts also saw three players named to the Pac-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll and another three receive All-Pac-12 Honors.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Wednesday's 4:00 p.m. PT game against the Spartans will be live streamed here. Live stats will also be available here. Fans can receive additional in-game updates and behind-the-scenes information by following the Bears' social media accounts (Twitter: @CalWBBall, Instagram: @CalWBBall and Facebook: Facebook.com/CalWBBall).
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Entering the season, San Jose State has been picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference (MW) (the highest selection in program history). The Spartans are coming off the program's most successful season in 40 years, winning 19 games to claim the nation's largest single-season win turnaround (six wins in 2018-19).
Junior guard Azyhiana Basallo was placed on the Preseason All-MW Team after earning MW Newcomer of the Year last season. She averaged a team-high 18.5 points per game last year and was ranked first in the conference in both scoring and free throw percentage (92.5 percent). Basallo and senior forward Tyra Whitehead were named to the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year preseason watch list. SJSU is the only MW team with two players on the list. Whitehead earned All-Mountain West Honorable Mention recognition at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, her first in Silicon Valley. The forward was one of two MW players to finish the season averaging a double-double (13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game).
SJSU reached the semifinals of the 2020 MW Tournament before falling to Fresno State 94-68.
The Bears' second non-conference matchup will take place on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2:00 p.m. PT against CSU Bakersfield. The live stream for that game can be found here.