Gray's 19 points leads California women past Utah
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Missing its best post player and facing a defense coach Lindsay Gottlieb admittedly wasn't prepared for, California needed a lift.
The seventh-ranked Golden Bears found it in a four-guard lineup and a full-court press defense that created all sorts of havoc for Utah.
Reshanda Gray scored 19 points and sparked a big run in the second half before leaving with a left hamstring injury, Layshia Clarendon added 23 and California beat Utah 71-54 on Sunday.
"That's what we're about, let's find a way and get it done," Gottlieb said. "That was obviously the shift in the game when we upped the pressure, got a bunch of steals and made plays the way we like to."
Afure Jemerigbe scored 10 points while guard Eliza Pierre had five points, four assists and eight rebounds while playing the post position at the top of Cal's smothering press in the second half.
That helped the Bears to their seventh consecutive win over the Utes and assures Cal (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) of keeping at least a share of first place in the conference.
"We were fighting for something. We were fighting for our season," Pierre said.
The Bears had trouble getting anything going against Utah's triangle-and-two defense until Gray scored 11 points as part of a 17-4 run midway through the second half.
Gray, who also had eight rebounds, sat out the final 4:22 with an ice bag on her leg after straining her left hamstring.
Cal was already without forward Gennifer Brandon, who injured her right foot in Friday's win over No. 20 Colorado. Guard Brittany Boyd also came up limping on the same play that Gray strained her hamstring on.
It didn't matter.
Utah committed 21 turnovers, including six in seven possessions after Cal made the defensive switch and went to the full-court press.
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