Conference Questions: Women's Hoops

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What do Cal's last three losses say about the rest of its season?

"Basketball is a game of runs," senior Rachelle Federico said after the Cal women's basketball team lost to Washington on Thursday night. The Bears' conference play so far has certainly evoked that aspect of the game.

Cal has had a number of transitional phases in its Pac-10 campaign so far, raising questions as to whether it will be able to piece together a complete season this late in the game.

After the Bears' were swept on the road by Washington and Washington State earlier this season, it was evident that the team needed to make some changes. In a midseason shift, the squad returned to Haas Pavilion to beat USC and prove that it was a Pac-10 contender, at least for dominance in the ranks below UCLA and Stanford.

When Cal got back on the road, it seemed the young team had rid itself of the inconsistency that plagued it in Washington. The Bears handily defeated Oregon and Oregon State, and managed a double-digit victory over Arizona in Tucson.

But after finishing on the wrong end of a last second 3-pointer at Arizona State (Cal lost, 45-44), followed by recent losses to conference bottom feeders Washington and Washington State at home, the Bears are in the exact same position they were about a month ago.

The Bears are more than good enough - when playing up to their potential - to place in the top four of the Pac-10. As pointed out by coach Joanne Boyle, the team struggles when there isn't a leader pushing it to play at that potential. She described the squad's inconsistency as a "rollercoaster."

If the Bears don't get off, in a conference of this caliber (particularly with Stanford and UCLA ahead), they'll get taken for a ride.

-Alex Matthews

After a successful Bay Area road trip, could Washington be for real?

The Huskies are the only team to have lost to Oregon State in Pac-10 play. The Beavers are 1-12 in the conference, but managed to defeat Washington (5-8, 10-12 in the Pac-10) in Seattle. The Huskies lost four of their first five Pac-10 games, and six of their first eight.

But they gave Stanford its toughest test of the conference season on Saturday.

Washington lost, 62-52, at Maples Pavilion, but it was the Cardinal's smallest margin of victory this Pac-10 season. The Huskies were actually closer to beating Stanford then top-ranked Connecticut was on Dec. 30. UConn lost by 12 points; Washington only lost by 10.

Does that mean the West Coast Huskies could beat the East Coast Huskies? Likely not, but Washington's performance in Stanford would seem to be a moral victory.

On Saturday, it was a one possession game with under six minutes to go before Stanford pulled away. the Huskies held the Cardinal to a .365 field goal percentage. Washington, meanwhile, hit six of its 12 3-pointers. The squad were just as hot against Cal on Thursday. The Huskies made six 3-pointers and over half of their field goals in the 60-49 upset at Haas Pavilion.

Junior guard Kristi Kingma totaled 38 points on the road trip. She leads the team with 16.3 points per game. Fellow guard Sarah Morton had a solid outing against the Bears, scoring 18 points, dishing out eight assists and pulling down four rebounds in 37 minutes.

So, are the Huskies for real? No. One positive weekend doesn't change the fact that they are still in eighth place in the Pac-10.

-Jonathan Kuperberg


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