WACO, Texas — Coach Lindsay Gottlieb’s baby boy might not wait until his due date in May to be born if there are many more heart-racing finishes like this for Cal.
“More games like this, he could come any day,” Gottlieb said after the Golden Bears held on for a 55-52 win over LSU in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
Kristine Anigwe scored 13 of her 15 points after halftime, when she made all seven of her free throws and had a late block for the Golden Bears (20-13).
“Those are the moments coaches love, when kids rise to that different level,” Gottlieb said. “She had a big-time second half, and we needed every minute of it.”
Asha Thomas’ sixth 3-pointer of the game, with 1:19 left, finally put Cal ahead to stay.
The Golden Bears had gone 4-1/2 minutes without scoring until Thomas made her last 3 from the right corner just in front of the Cal bench for a 53-50 lead. She finished with 18 points, all on those long-range shots.
Chloe Jackson made a jumper for LSU with 59 seconds left, and the Tigers (20-12) had another chance after Cal was unable to get the ball inbounded or a timeout called before a 5-second violation with 32 seconds left.
LSU’s Alexis Hyder was tripped when fouled with 17 seconds left, but the Tigers weren’t in the bonus and had to inbound the ball again. Hyder was then blocked by Anigwe, and a scramble for the ball led to a tie-up with Cal having possession. Anigwe then made two free throws with 6 seconds left.
“Just tried to do whatever I could to win,” Anigwe said. “In the second half, I tried to focus on different things. ... I came with a whole different mentality, wanted to win so bad.”
Raigyne Moncrief’s 3-pointer at the buzzer for LSU ricocheted off the side of the rim.
Jackson, Moncrief, Hyder and Rina Hill had 10 points each for LSU. Hyder also had 12 rebounds.
Gottlieb said she felt the baby, her first child, moving around during the excitement of the game.
The Tigers took their first lead when Jackson made a 16-foot jumper with 7:31 left for a 45-43 lead.
Only 29 seconds later, Anigwe made a tying jumper while being fouled, and then made the free throw to put the Bears back ahead to stay. After an LSU miss, Angiwe was fouled again and added two more free throws.
Jackson had made a short pull-up jumper with 1:27 left in the third quarter to make it 39-all, the first time the game had been tied since 2-2. But Anigwe’s two free throw throws with just under a minute left put the Bears back in the lead.
“I commend our team for having the heart and fight,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “This group has been pretty special for us to turn the program around from last year (10-21), to where we are this year. It’s improvement, and we’re going to build off that.”
When Hyder was blocked in the closing seconds, she thought she had done exactly what she wanted to do on the play. “I saw the lane and I wanted to make contact, which I thought I did. It just didn’t go our way,” Hyder said. “I wanted to get her in the air. I thought it was a good drive.”