Derek Jeter once said, “It doesn’t seem like the season really gets under way until you have your home opener.” Luckily for Cal fans, the first game of the regular season starts in Bear Territory.
To kick off the 2022-2023 season, Cal matches up with CSUN from the Big West Conference as both teams look to get off on the right foot. With a preseason victory over Vanguard behind them, the Bears seem calm and collected in many elements of their game, displaying strong performances in the paint, on fast breaks and turnovers.
Both the Bears and the Matadors enter Monday’s contest having lost the concluding five games of last season, each getting eliminated from their respective tournaments in the first round.
Cal and CSUN did not face each other last year, previously playing in 2018 and 2015 at Haas Pavilion. These two games are the only matchups on record between the Bears and the Matadors, resulting in blowout wins by Cal in both games.
In 2015, the Bears walked away with a 106-44 victory, a score they have yet to match since setting it, though nearly reaching it last year against McNeese State in an electric 102-60 win.
The most recent matchup showed determination and drive from the Cal offense, turning on the burners in the second half after only leading by 3 at the end of the second quarter. The Bears scored 10 straight points to start the third, and by the end of the game, they pulled away from their opponents to secure a 67-42 victory.
For the 2022-23 season, CSUN is projected to finish at the No. 8 spot in the Big West after making some roster additions and changes. It recruited three players standing at 6’1” or taller to add height for its defensive layout and offensive work in the paint. Tess Amundsen returns to the squad after taking home Second Team All-Big West honors last year.
On Cal’s side of the court, Pac-12 coaches and media polls both predicted the Bears to finish at No. 11 in the standings, just ahead of last-place projected Arizona State. Returning to the helm is head coach Charmin Smith, aiming to lead her team on an upward trajectory after the conclusion of last season.
Returning players like Jayda Curry will look to pick up where she left off last season as transfers and new recruits strive to make a statement in their first year at Cal. Curry, Evelien Lutje Schipholt and Leilani McIntosh led the scoring in the preseason game.
New faces including Kemery Martin, Peanut Tuitele and Amaya Bonner got in on the scoring action against Vanguard, and Cal fans hope that these trends carry over to the regular season.
The Bears hope to repeat a hot start to the season like they did last year, this time setting their sights on maintaining that winning pace set from the start. Cal’s 11-13 record compared to CSUN’s 9-19 by the end of the season proves for an even matchup.
The Bears will center their attention on Curry and her offensive prowess, while the Matadors look to Amundsen to lead the charge and avoid being trampled. With much anticipation surrounding this start of the season, can Cal get off to the start it wants?
Catch the action at 4 p.m. at Haas Pavilion for the home opener of the 2022-23 season. Will the home-court advantage favor the Bears or will they fold under the lights?