Cal Women's Basketball: Bears Outlast Huskies to Earn First Pac-12 Victory

Photo by Juan Monterosa, KLC fotos

Jeff Faraudo

The drought is over for the Cal women’s basketball team.

The Golden Bears secured their first victory in Pac-12 Conference play on Sunday, beating Washington 81-74 in overtime at Seattle after giving away a 17-point halftime lead.

Cal (9-12, 1-9 Pac-12), which snapped a nine-game losing streak and won in its first overtime game of the season, was led by senior center C.J. West, who had a career-high 22 points and nine rebounds. Jaelyn Brown contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

Forward Alaysia Styles scored 17 points and freshman Leilani McIntosh had six points, eight rebounds and eight assists, the latter two both career highs

"It's great to get that monkey off our back and get into the win column," Cal coach Charmin Smith said. "We've been fighting and working really hard, and I wanted this really bad for our players.

"We've felt good about who we are, and our chemistry and our culture, but winning makes a difference. I'm really proud of how we fought today and that should hopefully give us a boost as we head into the final eight games of Pac-12 play."

Cal shot 56 percent from the field and held Washington to 36 percent. The Bears also forged a 42-31 rebounding edge, helping them overcome 23 turnovers.

Amber Melgoza scored 35 points to lead the Huskies (10-11, 2-7.

Cal led 39-22 at the half, but Washington used a 16-3 run to pull even.

Cal never trailed in overtime. West converted a layup off an assist from Brown 18 seconds into the extra period to put the Bears in front 69-67. A layup by Styles a minute later pushed the lead to four points.

The Bears’ overtime lead reached eight points, 77-69, when Styles scored a layup with 1:38 left. Cal never let the Huskies closer than five points the rest of the game.

"Overtime is when a lot of people fold and the momentum completely shifted in [Washington's] direction, but we didn't quit," Smith said. "We stole the momentum right back and made big-time plays. I'm really proud of how this group held on and continued to fight."

Washington forced overtime when Melgoza made a jump shot with 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 67-all tie.

After a timeout, Cal ran the clock down to seven seconds before West missed a jumper. Melgoza grabbed the rebound but she missed a 3-point try just before the fourth-quarter buzzer.