The CSU’s women’s basketball team faces its biggest test of this young season Saturday as they will visit Berkeley, Calif., to play the No. 19 California Golden Bears.
The Rams come in riding a three-game winning streak, which includes their first road win of the season on Tuesday at Idaho. Junior guard Bonnie Barbee scored a career-high 20 points against the Vandals and looks to continue her success against the Bears.
“It’s definitely a (confidence) booster, especially since it’s no secret that as a shooter my shooting percentage has been down. But I’ve really worked on it a lot,” Barbee said, “As far as the team goes, it’s really awesome that we got our first road win and we had to face some adversity there in the second (half), and then we pulled out a win.”
This season, Cal is 5-2 with their only losses coming against top 10 teams Baylor and Ohio State. The Golden Bears rank second in the Pac-10 with 11.6 steals per game and are widely respected for their defense.
“They’re a tremendous rebounding team. They just crash the boards really, really hard,” said head coach Kristen Holt. “That’s gonna be a big task for us. In some of the games we’ve lost, rebounding has been one of our problems.”
In the two games they’ve played there, CSU has never won in Berkeley. Junior guard Zoi Simmons hails from the Golden State, but does not consider the game a homecoming.
“It’s just another game,” she said. “We’re gonna have to go out there and be aggressive. They have the bigger team, but we can just be strong with the ball and have fun with it, and we’ll be good.”
The Golden Bears are the first ranked team the Rams have played this year, and both players and coaches expect a tough game.
“Cal’s a different level, a different caliber team. The mistakes you can get away with against an Idaho, you won’t get away with against (Cal),” Holt said, “The main thing we’re gonna have to do is slow them down in transition and rebound and try to limit them to one shot.”
CSU is clearly the underdog in this matchup, a fact that Holt embraces.
“We have nothing to lose. It’s one of those games where no one expects us to win, so I think we just go into it and absolutely give our best and have fun,” she said.
Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.