Oregon State's Size and Depth Too Much for Cal Women's Basketball
The Bears drop their 5th straight Pac-12 game, 68-59.
There are two stats from this game that quickly explain what happened and why Cal lost:
Evelien Lutje Schipholt and Dalayah Daniels: 37 combined minutes played, 8 combined fouls
Oregon State two point shooting: 24-39 (62%); Cal two point shoot: 11-37 (30%)
That Oregon State might dominate the paint isn’t exactly a shock. The Beavers feature a pair of centers that are 6’9’’ and 6’6’’, plus a pair of forwards that both measure 6’3’’, and they are not afraid to play a bunch of them at once. They want to use that size to control the interior on both ends, and Cal was going to go into this game with a size disadvantage regardless.
Still, Cal didn’t want to immediately cede the paint, but when Daniels and Schipholt both picked up two fouls in the first quarter the script had all but been written. That resulted in Cal having to play small the rest of the way, and a medium size disadvantage turned into a massive size disadvantage.
For a time, it looked like it would actually work out - Cal’s team speed and shooting gave them some advantages over the taller but slower Beavers. The Bears were getting consistently good 3 point looks on offense and getting into passing lanes and disrupting on defense.
As someone who generally is happy seeing Cal take 3s, I was pretty happy with how well Cal handled their inability to get anything going inside. But it’s also true that if you’re reduced to jump shooting, you risk getting one dimensional. You’re not going to draw fouls and you’re not going to get any easy buckets, and so as soon as Cal’s 3 point shooting went cold Cal’s offense withered.
And so over time, OSU’s size wore the Bears down, and the Beavers went on what turned out to be a decisive 16-0 run that spanned the end of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th, turning a 7 point Cal lead into a 9 point OSU lead. When Daniels and Schipholt got back into the game after halftime they both picked up 3rd fouls almost immediately, and it never felt like either player got into any kind of rhythm having to spend so much time on the bench in both halves.
There’s a conversation worth having here about the impact of shoddy reffing*. The 3rd fouls picked up by Daniels and Schipholt were both really iffy calls. Schipholt’s 3rd in particular was an epic blown call that was such a clean block it should’ve been a tie-up. But Cal’s difficulty defending without fouling has been a consistent challenge all year long and the larger trend in this game was clear.
*I’m not GLAD that Charmin Smith got T’d up following a joke of a travel call against Jayda Curry, but I’m also not mad either.
And so the Bears dropped their 5th straight game in Pac-12 play. Four of the five have been by single digits, and Cal held 2nd half leads in every single one of those single digit losses. And at the risk of repeating my column following Cal’s Friday night loss to Oregon, I’m struggling to decide how I feel about this close-but-no-cigar business.
On one hand, this team is still wildly young. Karisma Ortiz and Jadyn Bush were supposed to bring much needed veteran experience as grad transfers, but injuries have ruled them both out for the season. As a result, Cal has zero seniors and four juniors as part of the regular rotation . . . except two of those juniors are really sophomores because Jazlen Green and Cailyn Crocker both missed their sophomore seasons due to injury. Leilani McIntosh and Evelien Lutje Schipholt are the only two players I would describe as experienced veterans.
Maybe it was unrealistic to hope that this team, following everything that happened last season, would be ready to earn more wins just one year later. But you also see the talent on the court, the moments in game when the pieces come together, and you get impatient.
Cal will be at home next weekend for the end of the regular season, with two more very winnable games against Washington and Washington State, before the Pac-12 tournament. I have very little doubt that Cal will be very competitive in both games, but boy would it be nice to get a couple wins to build optimism for 2022-23.