No. 9 Cal women beat Long Beach State in opener

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 09, 2013
A rod in her lower right leg to alleviate recurring stress fractures, Gennifer Brandon jumped like her old self and emphatically swatted down a shot in the corner. That told Brandon and everybody else she is back, just three months to the day after undergoing surgery on her fibia. She had plenty of help in California's season opener. Afure Jemerigbe scored 13 points, freshman Mercedes Jefflo made seven steals in an impressive collegiate debut, and No. 9 Cal overcame a cold-shooting first half to beat Long Beach State 70-51 Friday night. ''I was a little apprehensive. Emotionally I felt wonderful, feeling the energy of my team,'' Brandon said. ''There were some surprising moments just being out here today is a surprise to me still. I'm still trying to embrace it, it's beautiful.'' Jefflo added nine points and three assists, scoring consecutive baskets early in the second half as the Golden Bears pulled away to run their regular-season winning streak to 16 games dating to last season. Third-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her players hope to build off the program's first Final Four berth in school history last season, when Cal shared the Pac-12 title with Bay Area rival Stanford. The big test comes Sunday afternoon on Cal's home court: A date with second-ranked Duke. ''A marquee game in November big-picture wise is something we're proud of,'' Gottlieb said. ''We want to be in that kind of game to measure ourselves.'' Gottlieb got word Wednesday that Brandon would be able to play limited minutes. She checked in at the 13:56 mark of the first half. ''She's my superhuman bionic child,'' Gottlieb said. Brandon, an all-Pac-12 player who averaged 12.3 points last season, had six points and that leaping blocked shot in 13 minutes of action. ''I've always referred to Genn Brandon as a pogo stick,'' Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn said. ''Not too many kids in the country have that kind of athleticism.'' Reshanda Gray had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Cal, and 6-3 freshman Courtney Range 14 boards. Jemerigbe scored five straight points late in the first half as Cal took a 27-18 lead at the break despite shooting 28.6 percent. The Bears, with seven players returning from last season's history-making NCAA tournament run, are picked to finish second in the conference behind the Cardinal. Junior guard and top returning scorer Brittany Boyd sat all but eight minutes of the first half in foul trouble, then scored all six of her points after intermission to go with seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. She will be looked upon to carry a bigger load after Cal lost leading scorer Layshia Clarendon. Anna Kim scored 11 points to lead Long Beach State despite injuring her left knee, but the 49ers lost their fifth straight to Cal. Kim went down 5:07 before halftime and limped off the court with assistance. An athletic trainer worked on her left knee on the bench and she rode a stationary bike behind the bench before returning in the second half with the knee wrapped. Boyd fouled Kim on a made 3-pointer for her second personal and Kim converted the four-point play to tie the game at 12 with 10:12 left in the opening half, sending Boyd to the bench. Cal began the game 4 for 18 and 1 for 11 from 3-point range but eventually got clicking, still shooting only 35.8 percent. The 5-foot-10 Jefflo earned a start in her first game after sitting out the team's lone exhibition - a 91-62 tuneup against Vanguard a week earlier - as a precaution to rest a foot injury. Just a minute into the game, Jefflo made a steal and took the ball three-quarters of the quart for a left-handed lay-in. She ran the point on some possessions, allowing Boyd to line up on the wing. Jefflo has been on Gottlieb's radar for years, back to the guard's days as an impressive youth player. She had her fourth steal with just less than 12 minutes left in the opening half before being whistled for an offensive foul. ''I was pretty nervous the first half,'' Jefflo said. ''Getting steals was what got me going.'' Long Beach State junior guard and leading scorer Alex Sanchez, the only player back who averaged double digits for the 49ers last season, was held to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting. After Sanchez hit one free throw 10 seconds into the game, Long Beach State was held scoreless over the next five minutes. The teams played for the first time since Cal's 82-76 victory on Dec. 11, 2010. Wynn has the core of her team back this year, with seven returners and four starters, after a 16-16 finish and berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. Yet junior likely starters Chantel Dooley and Devin Hudson didn't play in the opener as they are still recovering from offseason knee surgeries. Junior guard Bianka Balthazar also sat out while healing from concussions. The Bears played the first game of a doubleheader at Haas Pavilion with the men's team hosting Coppin State in the nightcap.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tom Brady refuses to discuss Donald Trump: ‘Let’s talk about football stuff’

Report: 49ers could target Kirk Cousins in trade that includes No. 2 overall pick

Mike McCarthy: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams may be game-time decisions

Report: Browns ‘enamored’ with Deshaun Watson, just not at No. 1 overall

Johnny Manziel says he achieved sobriety without professional help

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Marshawn Lynch ghost rides a monster truck before demolishing Jeep

Report: Chip Kelly to meet with Pats after losing out on Jags' job

Ronnie Lott-led investment group still fighting to keep Raiders in Oakland

Caroline Wozniacki fires back at Rory McIlroy, says ‘move on’

Report: Sammy Watkins underwent second foot surgery

Bulls reportedly interested in signing Chris Bosh

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

QUIZ: Name every NCAA men's and women's basketball team with perfect regular seasons

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker