Cal Women’s Basketball: Bears Beat UCSD to Improve to 8-2 – Sports Illustrated

If Cal is going to be a factor in the Pac-12 this season, it needs games like it got from Michelle Onyiah on Friday night. In just 18 minutes of court time off the bench, Onyiah collected 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Bears’ 75-61 victory over UC San Diego in a women’s basketball game at Haas Pavilion.

Onyiah has what Cal needs when it makes the huge step up in class in conference play.

“The athleticism to bang and battle with the teams we want to beat,” Cal head coach Charmin Smith said of Onyiah.

Granted, this was accomplished a UCSD team that is in its third year of transition to Division I and has a record of 2-6. And, in general, Cal’s performance was spotty at best while improving to 8-2, letting the Tritons stick around longer than they should have.

Jayda Curry led the way with 22 points, and she made two three-pointers, extending her streak of consecutive games with at least one made three-pointers to 32. But Cal expects that from Curry. What Cal needs when it gets into Pac-12 play, starting next Friday on the road against Stanford, is some dominant inside play.

Evelien Lutje Schipholt, the Bears’ best post player so far this season, added 11 points and nine rebounds to go along with Onyiah’s work. Cal dominated the boards, outrebounding the Tritons 53-23. Eight of Schipholt’s rebounds and seven of Onyiah’s came on the offensive end as Cal outrebounded UCSD 20-5 on the offensive glass. The enabled Cal to outscore UCSD 15-0 on second-chance points, which was really the difference in the game.

“Doing whatever we need to do to score those points,” Smith said, “and obviously Michelle, she was a big factor for us with those seven O boards.”

Kemery Martin scored 12 points to give Cal four players in double figurers, and Martin’s presence gives the Bears another perimeter threat along with Curry and Leilani McIntosh, who is looking to score more this season.

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Curry said the additional scoring threats have lessened her burden.

“I am so relaxed,” she said. “I feel like I can just not think about so many things.”

The key will be whether the Bears can mount a consistent threat in the paint. That’s where Onyiah comes in. The 6-foot-3 junior is the Bears’ most physical inside presence, and she has plenty of athleticism. If she can stay out of foul trouble and smooth out her game, Cal may have something.

In any case, the Brars must play better defense. The Tritons shot only 37.3% from the field Friday, but they are shooting just slightly better than that (38.8%) for the season against lesser competition. And they made eight three-point shots, which is why they were able to stay in the game in the first half, leading by a point with two minutes left in the second quarter before Cal made three consecutive three-pointers to grab the lead for good.

“We are a much better offensive team,” Smith said. “We have a lot more weapons. . . . [but] we need to get better defensively. That’s it. We know it.

“We can either decide to be better or we’re going to take our licks.”


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