Second Half Shooting Woes Haunt Bears in Seattle

Photo: Eliza Pierre scored seven points and had four assists in Cal's 57-48 loss to Washington on Sunday. The sophomore guard and Pac-10 leader in steals recorded six in the contest.
James Besser/File
Eliza Pierre scored seven points and had four assists in Cal's 57-48 loss to Washington on Sunday. The sophomore guard and Pac-10 leader in steals recorded six in the contest.

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They say there is a calm before the storm.

In the Cal women's basketball team's 57-48 loss to Washington on Sunday afternoon, that calm appeared to be halftime. After falling behind early to Washington State on Friday and losing by 14 points, the Bears (10-6, 2-3 in the Pac-10) were ahead by three points at the break. They were shooting for a better percentage and had almost twice as many rebounds (19) as the Huskies (10).

In the beginning of the second half came the storm at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle, Wash. Propelled by two three-pointers by Sarah Morton, Washington (7-8, 2-4) went on a 19-7 run to open the half, grabbing the lead and all the momentum.

Cal never regained the lead. The Bears made only six baskets in the second half. They were 0-for-10 from three-point range and 25 percent overall after the break.

The poor shooting was partially a result of failing to get the ball down low.

"It was very hard to get one-on-one touches," said sophomore power forward DeNesha Stallworth, whose 10 points was below her season average of 14.6. "They really try to crowd the rebounders and have our guards have tough touches so it was kind of hard to get the ball."

Center Talia Caldwell only took three shots, but the lone basket she made came at a crucial time. With just over three minutes remaining in the game, the sophomore made a lay-up to narrow the score to 52-46. It capped a five-point run that brought the Bears as close as they had been since early in the half.

The Huskies responded with six of the next seven points to seal the game. The streak included another three-pointer by Morton, who filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Backcourt mate Kristi Kingma scored a game-high 15 points.

"The whole trip has been evaluating ourselves," said Bears' coach Joanne Boyle of the winless weekend in Washington. "I've said this all year - we're not a team that's competing. We're not working hard, we don't play together."

Two days after committing 24 turnovers, Cal finished with 21 infractions. Even with a height advantage, the Bears still lost the battle of the boards, 35-32.

One bright spot for Cal was the play of freshman Mikayla Lyles. The guard led the Bears with 11 points, hitting 3-of-7 threes. All three of those baskets came in the first half, though.

"When adversity hits us, we just don't know how to act," Stallworth said. "I don't know if it comes with youth or growth or I don't know what it is. For us personally, we just have to learn how to come together as a team and just figure things out."

The game did not feature superb shooting, unlike the contest against the Cougars. Washington State (4-14, 2-4) shot 50 percent from the field and made 12 three-pointers in its 77-63 victory over Cal.

Rather, the Huskies simply outfought the Bears.

"I'm uncertain of what's going on," Boyle said. "I'm there to help them. I don't think it's offenses or defenses. It's either you work hard, like we do in spurts, and you choose to do that for 40 minutes or you don't."

The Pac-10 season does not get any easier for Cal. Regardless, Stallworth fully expects her squad to rebound when the Bears host USC and No. 10 UCLA this week.

"We just have to bounce back," Stallworth said. "Coach said this is the first time that we went 0-2 in the Washingtons. This is something that we just have to take pride in and come back next week stronger versus the L.A. schools."


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

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