California Golden Bears (8-7, 0-4)
- Head Coach: Charmin Smith (1st Season)
- Top Performer: Jaelyn Brown (14.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG)
- Points For: 68.9
- Points Against: 65.9
- Last Game/Streak: 65—79 Loss vs Stanford (4L)
After dropping their first game of the season, and 8 spots in the national rankings, the Beavers have an excellent chance to bounce back before a crucial meeting with Stanford. On Friday they host a struggling California team.
This is a very different Golden Bears team than the one that gave the Beavers some trouble last year. Last season in Berkeley the Bears led the Beavers at halftime, before OSU bounced back in the second half to win a back and forth game 82-74.
The Bears’ head coach for that game, Lindsay Gottlieb, is gone, having gone to the NBA to join the Cavaliers’ coaching staff. Also gone are the Bears’ two top scorers for that game. Kristine Anigwe transferred to Oregon, and Asha Thomas graduated. The Bears also lost two more starters to graduation (Recee Caldwell) and the transfer portal (Kianna Smith, who joined Louisville).
That leaves just one starter from last year’s squad. Guard/Forward Jaelyn Brown, who leads the team in scoring with 14.7 points per game. Brown is a versatile scorer with a pretty good three point shot (.350%) and is one of the team’s leaders in rebounding, with 6 per game, and assists, with 2.1 per game.
As the Bears only consistent double digit scorer, she’s been asked to do a lot, and early on the team was succeeding. Under new head coach Charmin Smith, the team pulled off a huge upset over Arkansas, currently ranked 23rd. They nearly picked up another top 25 win with a narrow loss against Kentucky, and finished their non-conference schedule 8-3.
But the beginning of conference play has knocked them off course. They played Washington close, but couldn’t seal the deal. A terrible first quarter against Wazzu put them in a massive hole they couldn’t climb out of in their second game. They followed that up by playing #5 Stanford twice in a row another two losses. The Pac-12 is brutal.
So could they beat the Beavers? There’s a chance. Brown is an strong player, and should be an interesting match up for Destiny Slocum or Mikayla Pivec. The team also has quite a bit of size, which isn’t something the Beavers have had to deal with too much so far this season. 6’4” Center CJ West and 6’3” Alaysia Styles are both starters, and Dutch Forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt (6’2”) is a key contributor off the benchh. Lutje Schipholt has 21 blocks so far this season.
Player to Watch
Leilani McIntosh (Guard - Freshman)
Brown may be Cal’s top scorer, but McIntosh is the one who sets her up, with her 62 assists leading the team. That’s pretty good, but the more pressing concern is her 32 steals. The Beavers have always struggled with teams that generate turnovers and score off of them, and McIntosh is exactly the sort of player that could give them trouble.
- Date: Friday, January 17th
- Time: 7:00 PM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum
- Coverage: Pac 12 Networks