Bears Nearly Upend Sun Devils
TEMPE, Ariz. – California women's basketball (0-8, 0-5 Pac-12) held an 11-point lead in the third quarter, but a late 10-0 Sun Devils run in the fourth gave ASU (7-2, 3-2 Pac-12) an advantage which it would not relinquish. With the ball and trailing by one point with 7.8 seconds on the clock, Cal ran the length of the floor to take one final shot, but a layup missed its mark and Bears ultimately fell 56-53.
The Golden Bears' defense was on display early as they held ASU to just 18 percent shooting through the first seven minutes of the game. This, along with a 9-0 run to end the first quarter gave Cal a 7-point (18-11) lead as the game transitioned into the second. The Sun Devils managed to narrow their deficit to one point in the second quarter, but the Bears were able to enter halftime with a 28-19 lead thanks scoring eight unanswered points to finish the half.
Cal opened the third quarter with four of the half's first six points to give the Bears their biggest lead of the night (11) with a 32-21 advantage. From there, ASU began to chip away at Cal's lead and eventually went on a 10-point run of their own to take a 38-36 advantage with 1:29 remaining in the quarter. However, a layup and a made and-one opportunity from freshman forward Ugonne (Michelle) Onyiah stopped the Sun Devils' run and returned the lead to Cal's side. The Bears eventually exited the third with a one-point (41-40) lead after freshman Dalayah Daniels made a pair of free throws with less than a second on the clock.
ASU turned a 1-point deficit into a 9-point lead to begin the fourth quarter, scoring 10 unanswered points and holding Cal scoreless through the first five minutes of the final period. However, a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Leilani McIntosh stopped the bleeding and put the Bears back within six points. Unwilling to back down, the Bears closed the gap to just one point with a run which culminated with a Daniels triple with 41 seconds on the clock. Neither team scored in their next possession and Cal ultimately found itself with the ball with 7.8 seconds remaining. McIntosh ran the length of the court for a layup attempt, but her shot could not find the bottom of the net. With less than two seconds, the Bears quickly fouled ASU's Jaddan Simmons. However, after a pair of makes and less than a second to go, Cal did not have enough time to formulate another play.
Three Bears finished with double-digit points for the third time this season. Daniels (6-for-8) led the team with 20 points and six rebounds while McIntosh tied her career-high with 15 points and set a career-best in steals (6 – all in the first half). Meanwhile, Onyiah contributed 10 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks. Onyiah has now started in back-to-back games and she has scored double-digit point totals in both. In her two starts, she has averaged 13.0 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. The Bears did well on the boards Friday night, winning the defensive rebound battle 20-18 while also dominating in the paint 28-12. Cal also recorded a season-high 12 steals, its most as a team since also tallying 12 against ASU in the first round of the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament.
"I appreciated our team's fight tonight," head coach Charmin Smith said. "Unfortunately, we had a few too many mistakes to get the reward for all of the hard work we put in."
The Bears will remain in Arizona where they will face No. 6 Arizona on Sunday, January 3 at 11am PT. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Network/Arizona/Bay Area.
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