Kristine Anigwe extended her season-long streak of double-doubles with 18 points and 22 rebounds as California rallied from a 12-point deficit in the first half to beat North Carolina 92-72 in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
Anigwe scored all but two of her points after halftime for the Golden Bears (20-12), the No. 8 seed in the Greensboro Regional. The 6-foot-4 senior center is the only player, men or women, with a double-double in every game this season, and she also broke the Pac-12 single-season rebounding record.
Jaelyn Brown banked a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to end the third quarter for Cal, following an inbound play with less than 4 seconds left after North Carolina had a turnover on an possible breakaway with 3.6 seconds left. The Bears then opened the fourth quarter with a 14-2 run and led 77-58 when Anigwe made two free throws with 5:43 left.
Paris Kea had 22 points to lead North Carolina (18-15), which lost four of its last five games in a season in which the Tar Heels had wins over then-No. 1 Notre Dame and then-No. 7 North Carolina State in an eight-day span in late January and early February.
Asha Thomas led Cal with 19 points, while Brown had 16. CJ West added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Janelle Bailey had 15 points for North Carolina, while Shayla Bennett had 14 and Taylor Koenen 13.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels wore down after the impressive first half. They jumped out to a 22-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, and in the first half were successful doing everything they could to keep Anigwe from getting offensive touches or good shots when she did get the ball (she did have 10 first-half rebounds). Cal outrebounded them 26-15 after halftime. … UNC was back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 to wrap up coach Sylvia Hatchell’s 33rd season at the school.
California: Anigwe now has 528 rebounds this season, surpassing the Pac-12 mark of 519. The Golden Bears are playing NCAA Tournament games in Waco for the third time in the six years. Like the previous two in 2014 and 2017, they won their opener. They lost to host Baylor in the second round the previous two times.
California plays its second-round game Monday night against top-seeded Baylor or Abilene Christian, who played the second game in Waco on Saturday.