BERKELEY -- The Cal women's basketball team got off to a blistering start against Saint Mary's College on Thursday night and cruised to a 89-41 win, looking every bit the part of a team ranked No. 12 in the nation.
Cal beat its East Bay neighbor for the eighth straight time, but few contests between the two have been so one-sided.
The Bears (2-0) used a frantic full-court pressure defense named "Silver" to force turnover after turnover in the game's opening minutes. Before Saint Mary's could settle down, Cal already owned a 13-0 lead.
The defense, which puts a post player on the ball with the guards able to read and react, helped lead to 24 total Saint Mary's turnovers. That, combined with some hot Cal shooting (55.9 percent from the floor), led to a long night for the Gaels (1-2).
"I challenged the team after (our first game) to be even more energetic and to jump on teams and be able to assert our will and dictate play," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "I thought they took that game plan and ran with it. ... We made a statement tonight just about us and how we intend to be this year."
Cal relied on a balanced scoring effort as six Bears reached double figures, including all five starters. Afure Jemerigbe led the way with 15 points, and Gennifer Brandon and Talia Caldwell added 14 each.
Brandon also had a game-high 14 rebounds and Caldwell grabbed six offensive boards, but Gottlieb was particularly pleased with Jemerigbe's effort. The junior, who claimed the starting wing spot after Lindsay Sherbert transferred in the offseason, played a big part in the Bears' effective defense.
" 'Silver' gave everybody a bunch of energy, and I think I fed off of that," Jemerigbe said. "It felt good in my hands when I had it, and I just was in a rhythm."
Brittany Boyd (13 points), Layshia Clarendon (12) and Reshanda Gray (11) also reached double figures for Cal while guard Jackie Nared paced Saint Mary's with 13 points.
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