It was well worth the wait.
Thomas’ driving layup as time expired lifted the Cal women’s basketball team to an 81-80 victory over No. 8 Stanford at Haas Pavilion.
— Cal Basketball (@CalWBBall) February 1, 2019
Thomas, who entered the night averaging 10.9 points per game, didn’t get on the scoreboard until her two free throws put the Bears (14-6, 5-4 Pac-12) in front 79-78 with 9.5 seconds to play. The Cardinal went ahead on a pair of free throws with 7.2 seconds left that were a result of star Kristine Anigwe’s fifth foul.
Without Anigwe, who dominated with 25 points and 24 rebounds, Thomas made the game-winning play. She found an opening in the lane and laid the ball off the glass with her left hand. After caroming off the rim three times, the ball fell through the basket as the horn sounded.
“We put the ball in (Thomas’) hands and she made an unreal, incredible play,” said Anigwe, who registered her third 20-20 game of the season. “That’s something we expect from her. She inspires me. She deserves it.”
It marked Cal’s second straight victory over its rival, following up its 78-66 win over the Cardinal last February. The win was also the Bears’ first over a ranked opponent this season and first over a top-10 opponent at home since 2009.
“You come to the office every day for many reasons, but days like today are ones you never forget,” Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “It goes without saying that any win over Stanford feels extra special just because of how darn good they are and how well-prepared they are. It makes everything more meaningful.”
“She makes missed shots assists.”
Kristine Anigwe is doin work in the paint 💪🏾
Not only did the Bears have to play the final possession without Anigwe, but starting guard Kianna Smith had also fouled out a minute earlier. But there were still other threats on the floor that Stanford had to defend – forward Jaelyn Brown and guard Recee Caldwell combined for 29 points.
“You like that as a player, to have your coach trust you,” Thomas said. “I like big moments. I like having the ball in my hands with a chance to make a play for myself or others.”
For the second straight game, the Bears made a season-high in 3-pointers. They went 12-for-30 from beyond the arc, with Brown converting on 4-of-6 and finishing with 18 points. Smith was also 4-of-6 from long distance and had 16 points while Caldwell was 3-of-7 and finished with 11.
“This is who we are and who we can be,” Gottlieb said. “We can’t be an elite team or beat an elite team if only one or two are clicking. We feel we have the most efficient and powerful post player in the country, but we’re not going to go where we want to go with only Kristine being exceptional. We need everyone else as well.”
The Bears will face Stanford again on Saturday at Maples Pavilion. The game begins at 4 p.m. and airs on the Pac-12 Networks.