The Cal Bears, ranked No. 9 in the preseason polls, got a big emotional boost Friday night at Haas Pavilion when forward Gennifer Brandon returned just three months after having a rod inserted into her right fibia and shook off a poor shooting night to beat Long Beach State in their opener 70-51.
Brandon played 13 minutes and scored six points with two blocked shots. The Bears struggled to find the basket in the early going, hitting just four of their first 18 shots—including just 1-for-11 from 3-point range—but eventually got things to click a bit.
Cal led the 49ers 27-18 at halftime before playing with more offensive flow after intermission. The Bears still shot just 24-for-67 (35.8 percent) and made just three of their 23 3-point attempts (13 percent). But Long Beach State shot just 30.3 percent (20-for-66) and was 6-for-24 from downtown.
Cal hammered Long Beach State on the boards, though, 57-38 and forced 20 turnovers.
Afure Jemerigbe led the Bears with 13 points and Reshanda Gray finished with 10 points 1nd 11 rebounds. Courtney Range came off the bench for nine points and 14 boards and Mercedes Jefflo had nine points and seven steals.
Lauren Spargo led the 49ers with 15 points and Anna Kim added 11 off the bench.
The game was a tune-up for Cal, which hosts No. 2 Duke at Haas Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is 3 p.m. Pacific. It will be the season opener for the Blue Devils.