Cal head coach Joanne Boyle is “just excited to be in the championship game” after her squad beat Illinois State in Normal Wednesday night. The Bears downed the Redbirds in front of a crowd of 6,075-a record attendance for Illinois State (28-8). The Bears returned to the Bay area to begin preparing for the championship game against Miami.
“It was a great game, I thought,” said Boyle of her team’s effort in Illinois. “We did a great job. I was just proud of our team to be able to come into this environment and gut it out with the travel and stuff. We stuck with our game plan. We knew defense and rebounding was going to win the game. And that is our M.O.”
Both teams began the game on a sluggish note. The Redbirds led early. Cal tied the game four times, but did not take their first lead of the game until a three-pointer by senior guard Natasha Vital put them up 16-13 with 7:28 left in the period. The Bears followed with a layup by freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson stole the ball right back, laying it in to give Cal a 20-13 lead with 6:50 remaining in the half. They closed out the half on a 17-3 run, keeping ISU from hitting a field goal for over ten minutes during the later portion of the half. Cal took a 30-16 lead into the break.
Cal held a double-digit lead through the remainder of the game. They held a 57-45 lead with a minute remaining and made foul shots down the stretch to hold on for the victory.
The Bears had four players in double figures: Alexis Gray-Lawson with 23, DeNesha Stallworth with 11, Talia Caldwell with 10, and Natasha Vital with 13.
Redbird senior Maggie Krick ended her career at ISU with 12 points to lead her team and Amanda Clifton added 10.
The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Michigan Wolverines 76-59 in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Wednesday. The Bears host the Hurricanes on Saturday, April 3 at 11 a.m. PT in Berkeley in the final. The first 200 students will receive free admission (must show student ID card). After the free tickets have been distributed, students can show their ID and receive the $3 group ticket rate. The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.
Around the web:
- Photo Gallery of Cal-Illinois State game
- Redbirds Fall To Golden Bears, 61-45, in WNIT Semis
- Hurricanes to Meet Cal in WNIT Championship Game