Cal guard Layshia Clarendon goes up for a basket. Photo by: Kelley Cox, Golden Bear Sports
The highest-ranked team on the West Coast hasn’t played yet – Stanford takes on Rutgers at Maples on Sunday afternoon – but the opening weekend of the college basketball season has already yielded some very interesting results.
USC 79, No. 22 Gonzaga 73
The Zags, who found themselves in the preseason rankings for the first time in school history, may quickly lose that distinction.
Gonzaga became the first ranked team of the season to fall in a game against a USC team that will bear watching throughout the season.
The Women of Troy were down 37-30 at the half, but went on a 12-0 run early in the second half to claim the lead. USC stayed hot on the offense end in the final 20 minutes, shooting 63 percent from the field.
Briana Gilbreath led USC with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Cassie Harberts had a strong debut with 16 points and Christina Marinacci also added 16.
Courtney Vandersloot led Gonzaga with 19 points, five assists and four steals. Katelan Redmon scored 17 points off the bench.
Cal 66, Rutgers 57
The Bears made a statement about a bright future with a win over Rutgers, who might stop coming west after this.
DeNesha Stallworth’s basket early in the second half to tie the game at 35-35. From there the Bears went on a 19-5 run to take command for good.
Stallworth finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Laysia Clarendon led the way with 16 points and backcourt mate Eliza Pierre, whose primary role is as a defense stopper finished with 10 points and six assists.
The last time Rutgers came to California two years, they were swept by Cal and Stanford and took weeks to regain their footing. They could be in the same boat here, coming off the loss and preparing to play the No. 3-ranked Cardinal.
No. 16 UCLA 55, San Diego State 48
The Bruins won on the road despite a slow start, despite missing 14 free-throws, despite 16 turnovers. That is not a small thing, not for a team that lost early last season to Illinois State and spent weeks regretting it.
This is a a good win for the non-conference resume and UCLA has Jasmine Dixon to thank with 15 points and 11 rebounds. They can also be grateful for good defense that held SDSU to 16 points and forced 12 turnovers in the second half.
San Diego State had an eight-point halftime lead and had to feel good about keeping Markel Walker scoreless through the first 20 minutes.
Arizona transfer Courtney Clements is going to figure big for the Aztecs. She scored 19 points in her first game for SDSU and could replace some of the offense provided by Jene Morris and Quenese Davis.
St. Mary’s 73, Washington State 69
The Gaels are probably the second-best team in the West Coast Conference and that’s good enough to squeak out a win over a lower-tier Pac-10 team.
Jasmine Smith did a fine job of filling the scoring shoes of her graduated older sister Jontelle with a career-high 24 points, while senior forward Louella Tomlinson added 11 points and 18 rebounds.
The Gaels helped their own cause greatly by dropping 30 of 36 free-throw attempts. Next up for St. Mary’s is Sunday’s measuring stick game against Cal, because the Bears are definitely upper-tier in the Pac-10.
The Cougars shot 33.3 percent for the game and got out-rebounded 47-37. Freshman guard Sage Romberg led the way with 19 points. Sophomore guard Jazmine Perkins added 17.