HUSKIES LOSE: UW finished its season on a four-game losing streak after a 78-50 defeat to Cal. Caldwell took over from the beginning and didn’t stop regardless of the score. She finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Bears outrebounded the Huskies 56-22 overall. Washington was slightly out of character but it offensive problems have tailed the team in nearly every game since the second half of Pac-12 play. It was easier to simply focus on the seniors. “It’s the best five years of my life,” Kingma said of playing her final game at Hec Ed. She plans to remain around the program and her sister Kelli Kingma committed to the UW and will be part of the 2014-15 class. “They can use that as motivation,” Kingma said of Cal celebrating its title on the Washington court. The Bears (27-2, 17-1 Pac-12) were given gray T-shirts emblazoned with “Pac-12 Champions” on the front. “You never want a team to celebrate on your own court,” Kingma said. “Especially Jaz being from that area and how competitive she is, she’ll take that to heart.” Davis agreed. She finished with a team-high 19 points. “I really wanted to get that win just being from that area,” said Davis, a native of San Jose, Calif. McGuff plans to give the team a two-day break before prepping for the inaugural Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena. UW (19-10, 11-7) will play Oregon on Thursday in the opening round and possibly rematch against No. 20 Colorado. The Huskies swept the Ducks during the regular season.
BREAK: I’m out to write the newspaper version. Walton is 1 of 12 from the field and Davis is 5 of 15, those are two of your top three scorers. UW is down 57-36 with 8:43 remaining. Cal will win its first Pac-12 championship in program history. Gottlieb is the fifth conference coach to win one within their first two seasons. Stanford coach Tara VanDeerver (1988-89), Washington’s Chris Gobrecht (1987-88), and USC’s Cheryl Miller (1993-94) are the others. Because VanDerveer was on tour to prep the 1996 Olympic team, assistants Amy Tucker and Marianne Stanley shared the 1995-96 regular-season conference championship.
TECH: OK, so smiles don’t work. Caldwell worked hard for a putback, teammates celebrating on the sideline when the ball finally dropped through the hoop. Stevens wanted none of whatever junior reserve Mikayla Lyles was saying, immediately calling a technical foul that silenced the Cal bench. Gottlieb tried to argue, but… It’s 51-36 Bears.
CLOSE: UW closed within seven points (41-34) with some solid ball movement to get Kingma good looks. Cal responded with Caldwell drawing fouls and making tough shots. A made FT by Brandon out of a timeout makes the score 45-34 with 15:36 left in the game.
SAY WHAT?: The officials appeared to make the correct call in declaring a ball knocked out-of-bounds Washington’s possession. Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb disagreed. UW trapped and Clarendon looked to be the player to have the last touch the ball as it bounced off Clark Stevens’ leg on the sideline. Davis nailed a three-pointer on the previous play with 34 seconds left in the half. Gaining another possession in the closing seconds seemed to be a potential momentum changer. Davis’ layin attempt was blocked and Clarendon missed a halfcourt shot. That didn’t quell Gottlieb, who took time to discuss the play with officials before leaving the court. She’s the best to watch argue a case because of her beaming smile. That tactic alone has to keep her from getting technical fouls. Anyway, Cal is up 39-28 at the break. UW will always be outrebounded because of its lack of size, but it’s helping make a difference today. The Bears have 11 points off 13 offensive boards. Clarendon is its scoring leader with 10 points. Caldwell has nine points and six rebounds. Davis has 13 points and four rebounds for the Huskies. So far Caldwell is the only player I’ve seen shut Williams out of posting her normal numbers. A sophomore, Williams only has one rebound and four points. She may have done that at WSU but finished that game with 17 points and 11 boards. Halftime was a hip performance by a massive group of youth cheerleaders.
SCOREBOARD: Washington State lost to Stanford 72-50 on Pac-12 Networks. There’s some thought Cougs freshmen G Lia Galdeira should win the conference’s Freshman of the Year award. Confusing on how she even entered the conversation. She’ll be a great player in the future, for sure, but it’s a two-player race. Either Walton, who plays out of position but is the anchor to UW’s surprising success, or Colorado F Arielle Roberson. Walton has the better numbers, even in the loss to Colorado. Walton, a three-time conference Frosh of the Week, is among the top in the conference scoring (13.9) and rebounding (7.1). Roberson, who’s received the weekly nod four times, averages 12.5 points and 5.6 boards. But, again, she’s on a top-25 team headed to the NCAA tournament. Awards should include those standards, too. Especially since Colorado and Washington played tougher schedules than WSU, according to NCAA RPI rankings. Putting up good numbers against bad teams isn’t impressive. The Cougs’ have an RPI ranking of 167, in case you’re wondering. UW is down 37-20. Cal is shooting 48.5 percent from the field now and outrebounding UW 27-9.
LIFELINE: McGuff inserted freshman G Heather Corral in the lineup after Wetmore appeared to get hurt on a play. Corral injected some life in the game, hitting a three-pointer with 12:16 on the clock. UW is shooting 20 percent form the field and Cal isn’t much better at 29.4. The misses are odd, too. Ball swirling in and out. Sitting atop the rim and slowly rolling off. Not your mother’s brick. It’s 11-7 Cal.
HONORED: Davis was honored prior to the game for scoring her 1,000th point against Utah. She’s the second-fastest in school history to reach the plateau. She scored all of Washington’s four points, the Huskies down 11-4 with 13:21 remaining in the half.
BLANKED: McGuff called a timeout with 17:43 remaining in the opening half and trailing 7-0. UW started the game firing three-pointers, perhaps in hopes the game plan would help them get out front against the Bears as it did for the Beavers. UW missed two of those attempts. Caldwell is just too tough in the paint, too. She has five points and two boards early.
So, you thought it was over? Nope, there’s still plenty to be decided in No. 6 California’s matchup at Alaska Airlines Arena against Washington. The Huskies (19-9, 11-6 Pac-12) are cemented in fifth place in Pac-12 standings after a meltdown in Utah, loses to No. 20 Colorado and No. 4 Stanford and player suspensions. Yet, it could still play for a 20-win season.
The Golden Bears (26-2, 16-1) have the bigger prizes with a win. Cal could snag a piece of its first regular-season conference title in school history. Cal would remain second in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena from March 7-10, however. Stanford played a nonleague tournament in Hawaii, defeating No. 1 Baylor, so it wins the coveted No. 1 seed by way of overall winning percentage.
Cal has had some close games this season. It was a last-second shot from an upset against Oregon State last week and it needed overtime to beat USC in January, winning by just five against Utah to open the Pac-12 season. The mark of great team is winning those types of games. Done.
Washington has its full roster for Saturday’s game. PG Jazmine Davis, G Deborah Meeks and F Talia Walton were suspended for teh Stanford game Thursday for violating team rules. UW coach Kevin McGuff said they’ll return to their normal roles, Davis and Walton in the starting lineup. Meeks has only appeared in two games due to recovering from a knee injury.
There are plenty of ties between the teams. Washington assistant coach Kevin Morrison was a Cal assistant. Cal assistants Charmin Smith and Katy Steding played for the Seattle Storm. Bears PG Brittany Boyd was a high school rival of Davis. The familiarity and magnitude of the game should add plenty of spice for the entertainment palette.
Let’s get going with your starting lineups:
F Afure Jemerigbe
F Gennifer Brandon
C Talia Caldwell
G Brittany Boyd
G Layshia Clarendon
F Kristi Kingma
F Aminah WIlliams
C Talia Walton
G Jazmine Davis
G Mercedes Wetmore
Tonight’s officials are Melissa Barlow, James Stevens, and Mary Whatford.