Cal women’s basketball: Bears upset ASU to advance into Pac-12 tournament semifinals

Shooting a tournament-record 69 percent from the field, the 10th-seeded Cal women advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament after scoring the biggest upset in tournament history, a 75-64 win over Arizona State on Friday at KeyArena in Seattle.

The Bears (15-16), who knocked off No. 7 seed Utah in the first round, used 24 points and 11 rebounds from freshman forward Kristine Anigwe to eliminate the second-seeded Pac-12 co-champion Sun Devils (25-6).  Anigwe made 10 of 11 shots as Cal converted 29 of 42 attempts.

The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Anigwe recorded her 13th double-double of the season.

Penina Davidson came off the bench to score 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting and freshman guard Asha Thomas made 6 of 7 shots on the way to scoring 16 points.

Gabby Green overcame committing 11 of Cal’s 26 turnovers by contributing six points, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Bears, who play third-seeded UCLA (23-7) at 6 p.m. on Saturday, become just the second double-digit seed to advance to the tournament semifinals.


Women’s basketball: Bears upend Utah in Pac-12 tourney

It hasn’t been a great season for the Cal women’s basketball team, but the 10th-seeded Bears rode 18 points and 14 points from Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kristine Anigwe to knock off Utah 66-63 in overtime in the opening-round of the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle.

Having dispatched the seventh-seeded Utes, the Bears (14-16) move into Friday’s 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal against Arizona State. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.

Anigwe had her 28th double-digit scoring game in 29 outings and matched her career-best for rebounds.

Courtney Range added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Mikayla Cowling and Penina Davidson each scored 12.


Cal women’s basketball: Kristine Anigwe is Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year

Cal’s Kristine Anigwe was voted Pac-12 Freshman of the Year on Monday in a vote of the league’s coaches.

There was little drama involved in the news, as Anigwe had accumulated eight Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards, the most recent one also coming on Monday.

The highest-scoring freshman in Cal history with 567 points, Anigwe also was the only freshman named to the 15-player All-Pac-12 first team. And she landed a spot among the honorable mention selections to the All-Defensive Team.

“This season her production as a freshman, with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, has been nothing short of remarkable,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said in a statement. “To be recognized as the top freshman in the Pac 12, as well as a first team All-Conference selection amongst so many great players, is an accomplishment that our whole program is proud of.”

Anigwe averages 20.3 points — most of any freshman in the Power Five conferences — and 8.9 rebounds. She also shoots 56.3 percent from the field.

Junior forward Courtney Range was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 and Asha Thomas was picked to the All-Freshman honorable mention list. Sophomore Gabby Green also was named All-Defensive honorable mention.



Women’s basketball: Cal’s Kristine Anigwe earns national freshman of week honors

Cal forward Kristine Anigwe earned National Freshman of the Week honors from the US Basketball Writers Association after scoring 29 points in the Bears’ overtime win over Nebraska.

Anigwe, a 6-foot-4 native of Phoenix, has won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors three straight times.

She is the nation’s No. 2 freshman scorer at 21.0 points per game, and is averaging 33.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over her past three games.


Basketball: Cal freshmen Ivan Rabb and Asha Thomas like brother and sister

Ivan Rabb is expected to play in the NBA one day soon, but the Cal freshman forward wasn’t even named Most Valuable Player on his eighth grade team.

That honor went to a girl – close friend Asha Thomas, who is a freshman point guard for the Cal women.

“I didn’t know how to feel. I was surprised,” said Thomas, recalling the moment five years ago. “How does a girl on the boys basketball team get MVP?”

There remains no argument from Rabb, who already was 6-foot-7 as an eighth-grader at Montara Middle School in Oakland, and has sprouted to 6-10. Thomas was at just about her full height then: 5-4.

“I remember I was excited for her,” Rabb said. “I’ve never been the type of person to get jealous. I just like to see people succeed and be happy. She contributed a lot.”

Donald Miggins, who coached for the Montara team, recalled asking a few other players their opinion before giving the MVP to Thomas. She averaged about 12 points for an unbeaten team that also included future Division I players Paris Austin (Boise State) and Aisia Robertson (Kansas).

“The reason why I voted for Asha to be MVP was the way she held herself and held her own in practice. That girl was a dynamo,” Miggins said. “If we needed Ivan to take over, he did. But she was a leader and they respected her. Best of all, she was a 4.0 student.”

Rabb and Thomas will be on the same court again Saturday – albeit not at the same time — when Cal hosts a doubleheader at Haas Pavilion. The men take on Saint Mary’s College at 12:30 p.m. before the 22nd-ranked women play Nebraska at 5 p.m.

Classmates at Bishop O’Dowd High after middle school, both are thrilled to be continuing their journey together. Thomas said she never tried convincing Rabb to choose Cal from the myriad offers he had, but said it’s great for the school and the community that he stayed home.

“It just seemed like it was going to happen,” Rabb agreed.

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Women’s basketball: Cal’s other terrific freshman — forward Kristine Anigwe

Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown aren’t the only talented freshmen basketball players at Cal.

Meet Kristine Anigwe, who scored 43 points for the Cal women on Sunday — most by any player in the country this season.

The 6-foot-4 forward from Phoenix shot 18 for 24 from the field and added 12 rebounds to help the Bears (6-2) rout Sacramento State 117-99 in the third-place game of the Cal Classic.

Combined with her 27-point, 12-rebound effort in the Bears’ 64-63 loss to Saint Mary’s on Saturday, Anigwe totaled 70 points and 24 rebounds on the weekend.

She is now averaging 20 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the free throw line. Her numbers are almost equal to those she put up as a senior at Desert Vista High: 21.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

Anigwe’s breakout performance is tied for the No. 4 single-game scoring mark in school history.

The Cal record: 47 by Alexis Gray-Lawson against Oregon State on Jan. 23, 2010.

Jennifer Bennett scored 45 and 44 in games during the 1986-87 season and Reshanda Gray also scored 43 points, against Washington State on Feb. 27, 2014.


Athletics: Cal sweeps Pac-12 awards for football, basketball

A busy Monday on the awards front for Cal.

The Bears swept Pac-12 weekly awards in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

— Football: Jared Goff was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a season-high 453 yards and six touchdowns in the Bears’ 54-24 victory over Oregon State that gave the Bears a sixth victory and made them bowl eligible for the first time in four seasons. Goff was 26 of 37, and hit 22 of 25 attempts during one stretch.

— Men’s basketball: Tyrone Wallace was given the season’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award following a 20-point, six-rebound, nine-assist stat line in Cal’s 97-65 season-opening win over Rice. Wallace, a senior point guard and all-Pac-12 selection, shot 9 for 12 from the field and his assist total was a career high. This was the fourth time over three seasons that Wallace has won the award.

— Women’s basketball: Courtney Range won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after contributing 23 points to a win over Austin Peay, then 19 points and 13 rebounds to the Bears’ road win over then-No. 8 Louisville. Meanwhile, Kristine Anigwe won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week by averaging 15.0 points in the two victories.


Women’s basketball: Cal upbeat despite departures

Here is staff writer Elliott Almond’s report on the Cal women from Wednesday’s Pac-12 basketball media day in San Francisco. I will be attend the men’s event on Thursday:

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb opened practice this month with a daunting realization: “OK, no Brittany and no Reshanda. What do we do now?”

Good question.

Gottlieb enters her fifth season at Berkeley with the challenge of replacing All-American point guard Brittany Boyd and Pac-12 player of the year Reshanda Gray.

The loss of the two graduated seniors has led to downgraded expectations. The Golden Bears were picked to finish tied with UCLA for fourth place in a preseason coaches poll announced Wednesday.

But Gottlieb isn’t concerned about prognostications. The Pac-12 has improved from top to bottom, and leading pick Oregon State returns four starters from a team that won 27 games last season.

“We have a young group that says this is just the beginning,” Gottlieb said at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco. “They are locked into meeting those challenges and being better than people expect us to be.”

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Women’s basketball: Guard Mercedes Jefflo dismissed from Cal team

Mercedes Jefflo, who would have been the leading scorer returning to the Cal women’s basketball team, has been dismissed from the program, the school announced Saturday without providing a reason.

The athletic department said it could not comment further on the matter, due to privacy laws. “We care deeply about Mercedes and wish her well,” the statement said.

A junior guard from Compton, Jefflo was third on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game last season and led the Bears in 3-point field goals.


Women’s basketball: Brittany Boyd goes No. 9 to New York Liberty in WNBA draft; Reshanda Gray goes No. 16

Cal guard Brittany Boyd was chosen No. by the New York Liberty in the WNBA draft while teammate Reshanda Gray, regarded beforehand as a potential lottery pick, slipped to the second round. She was taken No. 16 by the Minnesota Lynx.

Boyd, a Berkeley High grad, is the second Cal player in three years to be selected in the first round of the WNBA draft.

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