Nearly everything that could have gone wrong for the Berkeley girls’ basketball team did just that on Friday. Their star player was late for the game and sat for most of the first half. They shot poorly, and were called for 19 fouls in the first half. Their coach called it their worst effort of the year. Yet the Lady ’Jackets still beat the Encinal Jets by 15 points.
“I’m thoroughly embarrassed by the way we played tonight,” Berkeley head coach Gene Nakamura said. “There was not one person who played well.”
The turnovers and missed shots were bad, but the constant whistles made it an agonizing game for players and fans alike. The referee’s called fouls in the first half as if it were a bodily function, with 26 personal fouls in the first 10 minutes and 29 in the half. Berkeley and Encinal combined to shoot 52 free throws, keeping the game at a snail’s pace and preventing either team from getting into a flow.
“I’ve been in basketball for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Encinal head coach Tanda Rucker, who played for Nakamura from 1987 to 1991, helping to establish the Lady ’Jacket tradition. “This was a totally new experience.”
Berkeley’s leading scorer, forward Robin Roberson, arrived late and was benched for most of the first half, and the ’Jackets struggled, making just one of their first seven shots. But they were fierce on the offensive glass, and crawled to a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter on 11 free throws. Up just 26-22 with three minutes left in the half, Nakamura finally inserted Roberson, who led her team on a 13-5 run with three quick baskets. Roberson finished the game with 16 points, supported by Angelita Hutton’s 15 and Danielle Milburn’s 12.
The ’Jackets pulled away in the second half, but were still plagued by turnovers and missed opportunities.
“We just didn’t show any court sense out there,” Nakamura said. “I thought back to when Tanda was playing for me, and she was the best floor leader I ever had. She was like a coach on the court. We certainly could have used that tonight.”