daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian by September 8th!

Washington woes: Cal falls under .500 with 2 road losses

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.


Deputy Sports Editor

FEBRUARY 08, 2023

70 seems to be a magic number in the sphere of Cal women’s basketball.

When the Bears allow an opponent to put 70-plus points on the board, a loss is likely in store. This season, the blue and gold are 1-9 when they concede this magic digit. This weekend was no different.

The final buzzer sounded Friday night in Seattle, Washington with 70 points in the box score. Another Pac-12 defeat for Cal, 54-70, fits the marker.

Tumbling into a 8-2 deficit in the opening three minutes of play, Cal’s early struggles sustained throughout the night. Forward Evelien Lutje Schipholt led a brief rallying campaign, with streams of quick-witted facilitation and offensive conversion flowing erratically — yet, Washington remained a contender of inspiration.

While the Bears were plagued with mundane defensive efforts, the Huskies capitalized on several accounts. As a team, Washington had a shooting percentage of 46.3 and found the bottom of the net on 8-16 attempts from beyond the arc, while demolishing Cal on the boards 37-26.

Former Cal forward Dalayah Daniels steered the ship for the purple and gold, supplying 20 points on 8-13 shooting. Washington’s Haley Van Dyke, Trinity Oliver and Elle Ladine each finished in double-digit scoring figures.

The home team saw its own struggles as well — 19 Husky turnovers cast a shadow over the home advantage. Nonetheless, the Bears failed to exploit these errors, divulging in and out of a press defensive set at times. Cal head coach Charmin Smith expressed disappointment with her team’s production in the postgame press conference.

“We weren’t sharp at all,” Smith said. “They were more physical than us and got us out of our rhythm and what we wanted to do offensively, and it’s disappointing that we didn’t play as well as we could have.”

The Huskies, seemingly inspired by their disruption of Cal, went on to take down No. 2 Stanford later in the weekend.

Sunday afternoon in Pullman, the Bears entered the latter half of their Washington road trip with an eager and fiery first half. Guard Kemery Martin, who finished the match-up with 11 points and nine boards, guided the Bears offense with sound ball movement around the perimeter. An overall solid defensive effort had Cal leading the Cougars, who were dubbed NCAA Team of the Week ensuing their sweep of the Arizona school, 28-26 at halftime.

Following the intermission, Washington State star guard Charlisse Leger-Walker asserted her well-known dominance, accruing 14 of her 25 points in the second half. As the Cougars stepped up their offensive prowess and defensive intensity, Cal folded under the pressure.

“Some of our turnovers we had in the second half lead to wide open layups for them, easy opportunities for them in transition that sparked that run in the third quarter,” Smith said.

Despite several high-quality plays by the Bears down the stretch — including a big-time Jayda Curry corner three-ball off a kick-out from Karisma Ortiz and a Lutje Schipholt finish off a seamless no-look pass from Curry — the Cougars’ 22-11 third quarter run proved detrimental. That, paired with ongoing rhythm and momentum, Washington State put 70 points on the board — grounds for Cal to fall under .500, a 60-70 final.

Why are the Bears struggling to get over the hump?

Well, first, note that the Pac-12 is the best conference in women’s basketball. Cal faces a slate of relentless competition each week.

Even then, making excuses feels somewhat weak. Smith has a catalog of talent — Curry’s prolific scoring abilities, Leilani McIntosh as a renowned facilitator and so on. The blue and gold face struggles rebounding and holding their opponents below 70 points, but they also have some sequences of inspirational basketball.

As such happened against Washington State, Cal’s real issue lies in its inconsistency.

“We shot the ball well,” Smith said. “Then we turned the ball over too much and had too many mistakes on defense that led to their best player getting open for threes.”

Two of Cal’s best performances came in losses to ranked teams. In a 58-63 defeat to Arizona, then a 56-60 loss to Stanford, although the Bears still lost even conceding less than the magic number, consistency on both ends of the court gave them a fighting chance.

Looking ahead to Friday, the Bears will take on Arizona State, and Cal fans are hopeful they can remember the magic number.

Contact Jane Kenny at 


FEBRUARY 08, 2023