No. 3 Cal Takes on Iowa in Paradise Jam Finale
Nov. 29, 2008
St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. -
Thursday, Nov. 27, vs South Florida W 85-55
Friday, Nov. 28 vs Texas Tech, W 68-54
Saturday, Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. AT) vs Iowa
All games carried live on KALX 90.7 fm
The California Golden Bears opened the Paradise Jam tournament with a dominant 85-55 victory over the South Florida Bulls. The Bears followed Friday night with a victory over Texas Tech, 68-54. The very physical game featured 49 foul calls and 54 freethrow attempts by the two teams. Cal senior forward Ashley Walker was a perfect 11-11 from the freethrow line, just the third Bear to ever shoot 1.000 from the line when making 10 or more attempts.
Walker’s performance at the line was one of two school records tied in last night’s game. The victory improved the Bears to 5-0 on the season, tying the best start in Cal women’s basketball history. The 1981-82 squad was the only other Bear team to start the season 5-0. The Bears try for a record 6-0 start tonight.
Another piece of history is possible in the Iowa game. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson came to the Caribbean needing just 31 points to become the 20th member of Cal’s 1,000 point club. Gray-Lawson scored eight points against South Florida, followed by a 19-point performance against Texas Tech, leaving her just four points shy of the milestone. After scoring 16 points in the first half of the Texas Tech game, it looked like she would hit the mark in the second half. However, once the game moved back to a comfortable double-digit lead for the Bears, Gray-Lawson headed to the bench for some well-deserved rest.
Ashley Walker flirted with a career-high for points with the 30 points she scored against Texas Tech. It was the third time in Walker’s career she scored 30 or more points. She was just a bucket away from tying her career-high of 32. Walker does lead the tournament with the highest single-game performance of any player in either bracket. Cal junior guard Natasha Vital’s 22 points against Texas Tech was the highest single game day one point total and is the third highest overall. South Florida’s Shantia Grace scored 27 points in their overtime victory last night to rank second. Gray-Lawson’s 19 points ranks sixth.
Junior guard Lauren Greif has been the model of defensive consistency this season. She came into last night’s game averaging 8.0 rebounds per game. She grabbed eight rebounds in last night’s contest. Greif is currently tenth in the Pac-10 in rebounding. Ashley Walker, averaging 9.0 rpg, is seventh.
TROPICAL LESS THAN PARADISE This is the sixth early season tournaments in a tropical location the Bears have played at in their history. They participated in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii four times (1987, 1993, 1997, 2004), posting a 3-7 overall record. Add in the 1-1 mark at the 2005 Caribbean Classic and the Bears came in 4-8 in tropical locations, now sitting at 6-8. The Bears have their first chance to win a tropical tournament tonight when they take on Iowa. Cal is the only 2-0 team in the Reef Division. However, in the round robin format, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, so 1-1 Iowa still has a chance to win the title if they pull the upset against the Bears.
STARTING THE SEASON STRONG The Bears have started the season with a 4-0 or better win streak six times, but the 1981-82 squad was the only other Bear team to start the season 5-0. The 1986-87 team dropped the first game of the season and then rattled off eight straight wins for an 8-1 start. The record for overall consecutive wins is 10, which was accomplished by both the 81-82 and 86-87 Bears. The longest winning streak for Cal since Joanne Boyle took over the program is nine games last season. The Bears won every contest from Dec. 21, when they defeated Kansas, until they lost to Stanford Jan. 26. The Bears won six straight after the Stanford defeat to go 15-1 from Dec. 21 to Feb. 16. Once again, it was a Stanford loss to break that streak. Last year’s team started 4-0, with their loss at then-ranked No. 12 Baylor, 69-56 snapping the opening streak.
THREE-POINTERS After starting the season shooting just 16.0 percent from three-point range with the team having two halves (the first half against Albany and the second half against Nevada) when they failed to make a single three-pointer, the Bears went 7-16 (43.8%) from long range against Rutgers and 8-19 (.500) against USF, raising their season mark to .317. The Bears have 15 of this season’s 19 three pointers in the last those two games. Last night, the Bears added four made threes, but two came from highly unlikely sources. Senior center Devanei Hampton pulled up for her first made three since 2006-07 to end the Bears second half scoring drought. This was the sixth made three in Hampton’s 1,300 point career. It was also the only made field goal of the game for Hampton. Shortly thereafter Ashley Walker also drained a long range shot. It was just the second three-pointer in Walker’s 1,500 point career. Walker had one made-three as a freshman. She has only attempted 11.
COUNTDOWN TO 1000 The magic number is four points to punch Alexis Gray-Lawson’s ticket to the 1,000 point club. She will become the 20th Cal women’s basketball player to score 1,000 career point, joining teammates Walker and Hampton in the club.
WALKER MOVING ON UP Walker’s 11 freethrows last night gives her 408 career freethrows, moving her to third on the career freethrow list. She needs 75 freethrows to become the all-time leading freethrow shooter. Walker’s nine field goals moved her to fifth on the career list with 581, passing Kesha Martin (1989-93, 573) on that list. She needs six rebounds to take over third place on the career rebounding list. Her 30 points last night moved her past Trisha Stafford (1989-92, 1530 points) on the all-time list. She is four points away from moving to fifth on the list. Walker has a solid chance to leave Cal second on the career points list, needing 211 more to take over Jennifer Bennett’s (1984-87, 1766) spot on the list. Walker would need to average over 27 points per game to hit the career record, 2,320 points set by Colleen Galloway (1978-81).
The Paradise Jam tournament, held in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands “offers men’s and women’s college basketball teams a chance for excellent early season competition in an exotic island setting,” says the tournaments directors. Since 2001, the tournament has been played at the 4,000-seat UVI Sports and Fitness Center. The two-week tournament in November draws more people to the Virgin Islands than any other event except Carnival. The Virgin Islands are in Atlantic Time, which is a four-hour time change from California.
The Paradise Jam consists of two separate tournaments. Each is a four-team, three-game round robin event. One is called the “Island Division Tournament” and the other is called the “Reef Division Tournament.” All four teams in the Reef Division Tournament competed in the 2008 Post Season: California and Iowa in the NCAA Tournament and Texas Tech and South Florida in the Post Season NIT.
The No. 6 Baylor Bears, who will play at Haas Pavilion Dec. 22, anchor the “Island Division”. Villanova, Wisconsin, and Central Florida round out that division.
In the Reef Division, Cal comes into today’s game as the only 2-0 team. However, in the round robin format, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, so 1-1 Iowa still has a chance to win the title if they pull the upset tonight. The only team without a chance to win is Texas Tech, the 0-2 team. There is a series of tiebreakers to determine the winner based on points scored, three pointers, and other factors.
Thursday: Texas Tech (48) vs. Iowa (56)
Iowa’s Wendy Ausdemore led Hawkeyes with a double-double (17 pts. and 10 rebounds) to an opening round win against the Lady Raiders. The game stayed close until Iowa went on a 15-1 run near the beginning of the second half. Texas Tech was able to close the gap slightly by the end, but the Raiders’ could not overcome shooting only 15 of 60 from the field (25.0 FG%). Ausdemore was the game’s leading scorer. The Raiders were led by Kierra Mallard with 14 pts.
Friday: South Florida (82) vs. Iowa (79) OT
Iowa and USF treated the fans to an overtime thriller of long range shooting, pressure defense and attacking offenses. Iowa’s Wendy Ausdemore hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime, but USF’s defense, quickness at 27 pts. from Shantia Grace sealed the win. Iowa’s Ausdemore led her team with 21 pts. that included 7 3-pointers; her teammate Megan Skouby sank 9 treys and finished with 20 pts.
SCOUTING IOWA (2007-08 21-11, 13-5 Big Ten, 4-2 this season) The Hawkeyes returned to the national spotlight last season winning a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, advancing to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and competing in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will look to maintain the momentum and level of play from last season and increasing fan enthusiasm.
Iowa won 11 of its final 13 contests, including a Big Ten-season-best eight-straight, to conclude the season. It helped capture a share of the ninth conference title in the program’s history. Last year’s squad had tremendous leadership, as it was led by five seniors. Iowa picked up wins over Boston University (83-58) and Providence (64-46) last weekend to claim its 18th Hawkeye Challenge title. Senior center Megan Skouby was named tournament MVP, while senior teammates forward Wendy Ausdemore and guard Kristi Smith were recognized on the all-tournament team. Megan Skouby scored 16 of Iowa’s 27 first-half points on 6-8 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the foul line, at Kansas. Additionally, the senior scored Iowa’s first nine points in the second half. She finished with a game and career-high 33 points (10-17 FG, 13-14 FT).
Cal and Iowa have only played each other once, with Cal winning 89-66 in a game played Dec. 9, 1982 in Tempe, Arizona.