The Cal women's basketball team starts three sophomores and a freshman, but its youth sure wasn't evident on Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.
In a meeting with Saint Mary's, Cal's offense started hot and didn't cool off until the game was no longer in doubt in winning its seventh straight meeting against its East Bay neighbor, 89-63.
The Bears, who are looking for new leadership offensively after graduating leading scorer Alexis Gray-Lawson, found plenty of scoring options against the Gaels. Sophomore forward DeNesha Stallworth led all scorers with 23 points, but the Bears also got 20 points from freshman guard Lindsay Sherbert and 13 from sophomore guard Layshia Clarendon. In fact, every Cal player who suited up for the game contributed offensively.
For a while it looked like the Bears might even reach triple digits when they went ahead 87-43 with 6:37 remaining. The Gaels went on a 20-2 run to end the game, however.
"I give just so much credit to Cal, period. Cal women's basketball, but Cal period," Saint Mary's coach Paul Thomas said. "It's a reputation. It's big school vs. little school, but you have to fight through that. "... Today we did not execute our game plan and I think we're a little intimidated and that's why (we) got boat-raced.
"Give (Cal) a ton of credit. They rebound the ball with such aggressiveness. They are strong and physical and have excellent leaping ability and long arms. When you shoot the ball that well and rebound the ball that well, you have a very good team."
The Bears broke open the game with a 19-0 run that spanned from the end of the first half and into the second, holding the Gaels scoreless for nearly eight minutes.
Cal's three freshmen -- Sherbert, Afure Jemerigbe and Mikayla Lyles of Bishop O'Dowd High -- combined to make seven of the team's 11 3-pointers. The team made exactly half of its 3-point attempts, giving the Bears a consistency from long range that they lacked most of last season.
"It gives us a different element that we haven't had before," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said. "It allows the posts to get one-on-one touches, there's more balance on our team. It helps in just so many areas."
Danielle Mauldin, a freshman from St. Mary's High in Berkeley, led the Gaels (1-1) with 11 points coming off the bench.
The Bears' (2-0) next game is at New Mexico on Saturday.