Spears Drives Cal Crazy in 16-Point Defeat

Toxic First Half Ends Bears' Quest for Second Consecutive WNIT Title.

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Yes, her name is Brittany Spears.

No, not that Brittany Spears.

But Colorado's senior forward's 33-point performance against the Cal women's basketball team on Monday night was certifiably platinum, headlining the Buffaloes' 81-65 win over the Bears at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.

Colorado scored the first seven points of the WNIT second round game and after six minutes were ahead 15-5, with 10 of those points coming from Spears.

"I think Colorado did a great job," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said. "They just really, on the home floor, came out and attacked us and got us back on our heels ... A lot of credit to them."

The Buffaloes extended the lead to 13 before the Bears (18-16, 7-11 in the Pac-10) responded. Freshman guard Afure Jemerigbe hit a pair of free throws and, following a Colorado basket, point guard Layshia Clarendon sunk a 3-pointer.

That 10-point deficit would be as close as Cal would get. The Buffaloes (17-15) scored the next eight points, including two 3-pointers from guard Brittany Wilson, to put the game out of reach.

Spears drove the Bears crazy with her offensive onslaught. She shot 14-of-19 overall and was especially toxic from behind the arc, making 4-of-6. The Pasadena, Calif., native also pulled down nine rebounds and had two blocks and two steals.

Boyle didn't hold it against her.

"We just came out flat," she said. "I haven't seen my team come out that bad before. I think we got shell-shocked.

"We recovered, but 20 minutes too late to even make it a game."

Indeed, after trailing 50-23 at the half - nearly outscored by Spears, who had 19 at the break - Cal put together a much stronger effort in the second half. The squad actually won the half, 42-31, shooting 51.7 percent, nearly double its field goal percentage in the first period.

At halftime, Boyle tried to ensure that her club would finish the game - and the season - on a high note.

"Is this the feeling you want, for this to be the last game of the year, and you will have this feeling until you go into next season?" Boyle told her team. "Or are you going to do something about it and have 20 minutes of great basketball?

"Not that we could win the game at that point, but we need to do the best we can and have something positive to go into the offseason with."

Clarendon certainly had a positive outing to end the season. The sophomore churned out a team-high 20 points. The Bears' starting post players, sophomores Talia Caldwell and DeNesha Stallworth, both hit double digits as well. They combined for 23 points.

Still, the team could not come back from its halftime deficit, the result of a defense that simply "couldn't guard them," according to Boyle.

Colorado shot 57.4 percent in the game and made 7-of-12 3-pointers before the break.

And it wasn't just Spears, who came into the contest averaging 18.1 points per game. Three other Buffaloes reached double digits in scoring, including Wilson. The 5-foot-8 freshman scored 16 points and made all three of her threes.

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S BASKETBALL, DENESHA STALLWORTH, LAYSHIA CLARENDON, WNIT, JOANNE BOYLE


Jonathan Kuperberg covers women's basketball. Contact him at [email protected]



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