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Cal Women's Basketball Starts the Season with Easy Win Over CSU Bakersfield
Transfers Ioanna Krimili and Marta Suarez pace the Bears to an 89-56 win
Photo credit: @Calwbball twitter
After an off-season of change, the new look Bears got their season off to a solid start with a comfortable win over the CSUB Roadrunners, with eleven different Bears both seeing the court and putting up points in a dominant team wide effort.
That dominance, to be clear, was expected. CSUB finished last season 8-23, and quite frankly don’t have the talent level to compete with a Pac-12 team. When they faced USC and UCLA last year, they lost by 45 and 28 points, respectively.
So if you’re watching early season games and trying to decide if Cal is in better shape to compete in the Pac-12, a 45 point win is an encouraging if inadequate data point.
Let’s start with the positives from this win, because there were plenty of exciting developments:
Ioanna Krimili stepped onto the court and absolutely looked the part of a lead scoring shooting guard. Losing Jayda Curry stings, but it’s worth noting that Krimili has been the better 3 point scorer, on a higher volume. She added in a couple of impressive and-1 finishes. I think you can take it for granted that she is a more than adequate replacement for Curry’s shooting. The more relevant question is if she can improve Cal’s defense compared to Curry.
11 steals and 18 turnovers forced. Cal is still an undersized team, and I think if they’re going to improve as a team defensively, turnovers is probably the likeliest path. CSUB is, to be fair, was a high turnover team last year, so I’m going to need to see this against different opponents, but the Bears were active and disruptive, so I count it as a good start.
3 point shooting, generally. Cal went 11-29 as a team from deep, and 43% of Cal’s shots were threes. Last year, Cal attempted 3s on just 27.6% of their shots, so if what we saw against CSUB is representative, that’s a HUGE shift. Everybody in the rotation other than Cal’s centers (Michelle Onyiah and Ila Lane) took multiple 3s, this team appears ready to pull the trigger.
Add it all up, and there are some early indications that the Bears might be better set-up to lean into their roster strengths as compared to last year, when Cal struggled to hide their roster limitations.
If you’re looking for areas of concern, two things immediately stand out. First, Michelle Onyiah was called for 4 fouls in 13 minutes of court time, an early sign that she hasn’t developed the ability to play physically without fouling. Secondly, as a team, Cal struggled badly to secure the defensive glass, allowing 18 total offensive rebounds and a 37.5% offensive rebound rate to the undersized Roadrunners.
It’s likely that these two factors are connected - Onyiah is Cal’s best defensive rebounder, but her minutes are constantly limited by foul trouble. But if Cal can’t secure the defensive glass against teams like CSUB, then you can probably anticipate that it’s going to be an issue in conference play.
A really nice game from Mia Mastrov, who scored 14 points on just 8 shots and looked very decisive with her movement on the floor - a valuable development because she’s already super quick.
True freshman Lulu Laditan-Twidale got 20 minutes and took 8 shots, 6 of them from three. She went 0-6, but based on her minutes and quick trigger, Cal’s coaching staff see her as a plus shooter and immediate contributor.
Marta Suarez looked like an exciting, versatile offensive contributor, and any time you have a 6’3’’ player who can knock down 3s that’s intriguing. You can see why she attracted Tennessee’s attention.
I don’t expect Kemery Martin to collect 4 blocks/game the rest of the way, but her activity and instinct on defense was great to see regardless.
Congrats to Leilani McIntosh for entering Cal’s top 10 all time for assists - I’d expect her to enter the top 5 before the end of the season.
Cal will be back in action against Santa Clara on Wednesday night. The Broncos are a step up in competition, but Cal will still be solid favorites against a team that went 6-13 in the WCC last year.