Strong Second Half The Difference
BERKELEY – The Cal women's basketball hosted Westmont in its first exhibition of the season on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion. After a sluggish first half, the Bears' defense and offense came to life after the intermission lifting the Bears to an 81-62 win.
Freshman Jayda Curry led all scorers with 23 points, she went 8-for-15 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. Also, in double figures for Cal was Cailyn Crocker with 16, Evelien Lutje Schipholt with 13 and Jadyn Bush added 10. Lutje Schipholt and Bush also grabbed 16 and 10 rebounds respectively for a pair of double-doubles.
Westmont was led by Stefanie Berberabe who had 16. She was one of three Warriors in double figures. The defending NAIA National Champions also got 12 from Laila Saenz and 10 from Iyree Jarret.
For the evening, the Bears shot 41.3 percent from the field going 31-for-75. Westmont countered by connecting on 43.1 percent of their attempts. However, it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Warriors shot 62.1 percent from the field and were 6-for-14 from beyond the arc. The Bears managed to connect on just 32.4 percent of their attempts in the opening half and were just 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
"I thought we started off a little rusty," said head coach Charmin Smith. "We've got some people who haven't played basketball in a long time in a game setting. That was kind of evident in the first half, but we were able to knock off the rust and came out ready in the second half and turned things around and went on a huge run."
Coming out of the break, with the Bears trailing 42-34, Cal went in the first of several runs in the second half. An immediate 11-0 run gave the Bears their first lead of the contest. Lutje Schipholt tied it up after grabbing a rebound and putting it back for two at the 7:07 mark in the third quarter. Crocker gave the Bears the lead for good the following series when she was fouled on a fast break for the traditional 3-point play.
After missing all of last season, Crocker was sensational after the break, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half. But it was the work on the glass by the Bears front court that did the heavy lifting.
The offensive rebound by Lutje Schipholt was one of 24 offensive boards by Cal on the evening. The Bears outrebounded the Warriors 55-29. Moreover, Cal held a decisive 26-0 advantage in second chance points.
"We know points in the paint was where we would have an advantage and we wanted to be super aggressive there," said Smith. "We have some people who are relentless on the glass, it's one of our victory conditions, we talk about that all the time. The way that Evelien, Jaydn and Michelle go after the ball makes it really hard for people to keep them off of the boards and it really made a difference when we couldn't make shots."
Defensively, the Bears stifled the Warriors in the fourth quarter. Leading by one point at the end of the third quarter, Cal held Westmont to just six points while scoring 24 of their own. The Warriors were held just two field goals in the half on 15 attempts, while Cal rattled off 11 field goals, most of that coming from inside the key.
The Bears will return to action next Thursday when they host Saint Martin's on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m. It will be the final exhibition game of the season.