How will Cal freshman guard Jayda Curry fare against elite women’s basketball teams?
We’re about to find out, as the Golden Bears face archrival and second-ranked Stanford on Friday at Stanford and Sunday in Berkeley, then host No. 10 Arizona next Friday, Jan. 28.
Curry was ranked as the fifth-best freshmen in the country by ESPN.com’s Charlie Crème, who said this about the 5-foot-6 guard:
2021-22 stats: 19.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG
Curry is probably the most under-the-radar player on this list, perhaps because she plays for a program that has been down the past few years or because she didn't rank among the HoopGurlz top-100 recruits coming out of high school. But Curry is also the highest scoring freshman in the country. A four-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week this season, Curry has scored in double figures in every game and lifted a Bears team that went 1-16 in 2020-21 to nine wins already this season.
Curry also leads the Pac-12 in scoring, but she and the Bears (9-4, 0-2 Pac-12) have yet to face a ranked team this season. That changes on Friday night against Stanford, which is 13-3 overall and 4-0 in the conference this season and has dominated the Cal the past two seasons.
Cal lost its two games against Stanford last year by a combined margin of 84 points, and the Cardinal has won the past six games against Cal.
Since become Cal’s head coach, Charmin Smith is 0-4 against her alma mater and her former coach Tara VanDerveer, and Stanford has a 76-21 alltime record against Cal.
That, however, does not include the most significant women’s basketball game played between Cal and Stanford. Their most important game was played on April 4, 1896, in San Francisco, and it was historic because it was the first intercollegiate women’s basketball game ever played.
Stanford won that classic tussle 2-1 before a crowd of 700 women, since men were not allowed to attend. All three major San Francisco newspapers sent women writers and artists to cover the historic event.
In December 1899, Stanford halted women’s intercollegiate team sports, so the Cal-Stanford women’s basketball rivalry was not officially re-instituted until the 1974-75 season.
And Cal had the upper hand for a while. The Bears won 11 of the first 17 games against Stanford, but something happened in 1985 that changed things: Stanford hired Tara VanDerveer.
In VanDerveer’s second season at Stanford, the Cardinal ended Cal’s eight-game winning streak against Stanford, and the Cardinal has been the dominant team in most of the seasons since then.
The Cardinal remains one of the nation’s top teams, and is the defending national champion. Cal will have to play well just to be competitive on Friday and Sunday. The Bears will need everything Curry can provide.
Cover photo of Jayda Curry by Kelley L Cox, KLC Fotos
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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