California uses size edge to beat No. 8 Louisville, 75-71
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) California coach Lindsay Gottlieb knows seasons aren't made from the second game on the schedule.
But Sunday gave her plenty of reasons to smile after beating No. 8 Louisville, 75-71.
Gottlieb had heard the offseason talk about Cal rebuilding a Sweet 16 team from last year that had two players – Brittany Boyd (12th) and Reshanda Gray (16th) – taken in the first 16 picks of the WNBA Draft.
''We had a lot to prove, just in terms of our toughness and our ability to put young and new players on the court and have them perform,'' Gottlieb said.
The Golden Bears (2-0) were led by a veteran and newcomer and used their significant size advantage to overcome 27 turnovers to earn the upset. Junior Courtney Range and freshman Kristine Anigwe each scored 19 points as Cal outrebounded Louisville 50-27.
Range also had 13 rebounds to lead Cal to their first victory against a top 10 team since winning at Stanford 67-55 on Jan. 13, 2013. Anigwe, a McDonald's All-American and one of the country's best incoming post players, grabbed eight and was 8 of 10 from the floor.
''Last game, I felt like I was playing too fast and I wasn't used to the pace of the game,'' Anigwe said of her 4 of 15 performance in Friday's 67-58 opening win at Austin Peay. ''This game, having my teammates have my back, I felt like they had confidence in me.''
Briahanna Jackson led Louisville (0-1) with 21 points in her first game since transferring from Central Florida. Mariya Moore scored 20 and her sixth 3-pointer cut Cal's lead to 74-71 with four seconds left.
The Bears boasted five players 6-2 or taller on the court for long stretches and shot 27 of 57 (47 percent). Louisville's 42 percent from 3 (10 of 24) was better than their 41 percent from the field (29 of 70) total.
''We knew going in that it was going to be a battle height-wise,'' Moore said. ''We could have done a better job boxing out, pushing back, but I think we were just focusing on other things and we shouldn't have been.''
Freshman guard Asha Thomas hit for 4 of 6 free throws for Cal in the final 22 seconds to help seal the win. Thomas finished with 16 points, one of five Bears in double figures.
Cal led 35-27 at halftime and the teams were tied at 46 after the third quarter.
Cal used offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions to score putbacks and take 65-59 lead with 2:11 to play. The Bears finished with a 17-9 edge on the offensive glass.
Louisville forced 24 turnovers through three quarters but managed just three in the final period.
Louisville: The Cardinals are predicted to finish third in the ACC this season behind No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Florida State. … Louisville has no seniors and nine freshmen or sophomores among its 12 players.
California: The Golden Bears are predicted to finish fourth in the Pac-12 this year.
Sunday marked the third matchup between the teams in the last four years. They first played as part of the Cardinals' improbable run beating Baylor and Brittney Griner to reach the 2013 Final Four. Louisville's 64-57 Final Four victory over the Bears earned a spot in the national title game. The Cardinals also won 70-57 at Cal last year.
WORKING OUT THE KINKS
Gottlieb took some credit in using Friday's opener at Austin Peay to overcome some first-game jitters before Sunday's ranked foe. ''You want to get one game under your belt,'' she said. ''I thought the benefits of getting the nerves out versus the deterrent of not only preparing for Louisville was going to work in our favor.''
Louisville: Visit Western Kentucky on Saturday.
California: Host UC-Riverside on Friday.