The Cal women’s basketball team finally put up some decent offensive numbers on Saturday against Arizona. Unfortunately, they ran into a Wildcat team that was just a little too big and strong for the Bears to beat.
Forwards Elizabeth Pickney and Lakeisha Taylor dominated the offensive glass for Arizona, combining for 34 points, most of them coming on putbacks of their teammates’ misses, as the Wildcats pounded their way to a 76-68 win.
Amber White scored a season-high 14 points for Cal, and reserve forward Kiki Williams also put in 14 points in just 16 minutes of action. But although the Bears showed improvement in their offensive game, they couldn’t stop Arizona enough times to secure a win.
“I feel it’s a different story, even though the outcome is similar,” Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer said of her team’s ninth defeat in 10 Pac-10 games. “We had balanced scoring, we didn’t turn the ball over and we had 20 offensive boards. If we can continue to play as a team like that, good things are going to come.”
Senior Ami Forney pulled down 7 offensive rebounds and scored 10 points, shaking a slump that has dogged her throughout conference play. But the big surprise was the play of Williams, who didn’t get any playing time in Cal’s loss to Arizona State on Thursday. Williams came off the bench early against the Wildcats and was aggressive on offense, taking 11 shots in her limited action.
“When I get into the games, that’s how I expect myself to play every time,” Williams said of her offensive outburst. “I just need to get consistent and do that every day in practice and in every game I’m in.”
The Bears started the game well, getting out to a 17-13 lead, but the game turned on a dime when Arizona guard Aimee Gryzb hit a 3-pointer, then backcourt mate Julie Brase stole a lazy inbounds pass for an easy layup. Suddenly the ’Cats were up 18-17 and had new life. Taylor and Pickney went to work on the inside, overwhelming Forney, who was Cal’s only low-post presence and fouled out late in the second half. Arizona went on a 10-0 run to grab a 32-22 lead, but White banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to seven points at halftime.
The second half was much of the same, with Taylor and Pickney making life miserable down low for the Bears. The two were a combined 14-of-20 from the floor, not surprising since most of their shots came from within two feet of the basket, and the Wildcats shot 51 percent for the game. Pickney finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, and Taylor had 5 on the offensive side alone. Their inside presence opened up the outside for Arizona’s guards to shoot the 3, and they were 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. Gryzb hit 3-of-4 from long range on the way to a 15-point effort.
Arizona took its biggest lead at 64-48 with seven minutes to play. Although the Bears put together an 8-0 run to get back within eight points, but Arizona guard Candice Allen answered with a 3-pointer to put down any hopes of a comeback.
NOTES: Robin Roberson, the leading scorer from last season’s state finalist Berkeley High girls’ team and an Arizona freshman, had a disappointing homecoming on Saturday, playing just 10 minutes for the Wildcats. Roberson turned the ball over the first two times she touched it and finished with 2 points.