No. 3 Cal Hosts No. 22 TCU in Colliers Championship
Dec. 7, 2008
Sunday, Dec. 7, 2:00 p.m.: Princeton vs Saint Louis
Sunday, Dec. 7, 5:00 p.m.: No. 3 Cal vs No. 22/RV TCU (Radio: KALX 90.7 fm, TV: none)
The No. 3 California Golden Bears, off to a school-best 7-0 start, look to win their second straight tournament championship when they take on No. 22/RV TCU Sunday evening at Haas Pavilion in the finale of the Colliers International Classic.
Though this is the first year the tournament has been known as the Colliers International Classic, Cal's December tournament has been an annual tradition since 1978. Cal is 16-11 in the championship game and has won the last five straight. Cal also has the last five tournament MVP's, with senior forwards Devanei Hampton (2005) and Ashley Walker (2006) each looking for their second MVP honor at the home tourney. Junior forward Rama N'diaye was the 2007 MVP. She will not see action in Sunday's game, but there is still a chance she could return to the court next weekend at the Basketball by the Bay tournament in San Jose.
At the conclusion of the championship game, there will be an on-court presentation of the all-tournament team and the team MVP.
Ashley Walker took the first step towards winning the MVP honor with her 21-point performance against Princeton. Only Princeton's guard Whitney Downs 24-point performance against the Bears topped Walker. Guard Helen Sverrisdottir of TCU is right behind with 20 points. Walker, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring average with 22.1 points per game, has scored less than 20 points in a game only twice this season. She has only one game scoring in single digits.
Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson became the second Bear this season to post her first career double-double when she scored 12 points with a career-high 10 assists.
The Bears shot 54.7 percent from the field, just the second time this season (and the second game in a row) they shot higher than 50 percent in a game. Junior guard Natasha Vital shot 80 percent from three-point range, going 4-5.
STARTING THE SEASON STRONGThe Bears improved their program-best opening win streak to seven. The 1986-87 team lost the first game of the season and then won eight straight to start the year 8-1. The program 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 current head coach Joanne Boyle took over the program is nine games, which was set 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.
HOME NONCONFERENCE WIN STREAK AT 33The victory over Princeton extended Cal's school-record home nonconference win streak to a school-record 33 games. The Bears play seven of 12 nonconference games at home this season. All told, Cal will play 16 of 30 regular-season games at Haas Pavilion. The Bears were 13-1 overall at home last season, with their only loss coming on Feb. 23 in their 60-58 loss to Stanford.
LEADING THE Pac-10Ashley Walker now leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Coming into the weekend, her 22.3 ppg paces the conference and ranks her No. 9 among all DI players. Dawn Evans of James Madison leads the nation at 30.8 ppg. Alexis Gray-Lawson also took over the conference lead in assist-to-turnover ratio this week. Gray-Lawson had 12 assists with just three turnovers at the Paradise Jam tournament. Her 3.5 A/TO ratio leads the Pac-10 and is seventh in the national rankings. Ball State's Audrey McDonald has a 5.0 ratio to top the national list. Her ten assists and two turnovers last night improved her season ratio to 3.85.
DEFENSEThe Bears came into the week holding opponents to 49.3 ppg, ranking them fifth among all NCAA I teams and first in the Pac-10. Wake Forest leads the nation, allowing 45.2 ppg. Princeton beat the average, scoring 53.
A NEW STREAKAshley Walker had hit 16 consecutive freethrows before missing her first attempt from the line last night to snap the streak. Walker started a new streak in the second half of the Princeton gaming, hitting her last six straight field goal attempts. In all, Walker was 9-12 (.750) from the field yesterday. In her last three games, she is 32-47 (.681) and shooting 58 percent for the season.
LONG RANGEAfter 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 percent) from long range against Rutgers. Fuelde by junior guard Natasha Vital's 5-for-6 performance against South Florida, the Bears shot 40.4 percent from long range at the Paradise Jam and have raising the season mark to 34.1 percent. Vital had the hot hand again last night, going 4-5 from three-point range, helping the Bears shoot 50 percent from beyond the arch. In her last three games, Vital is 9-14 (.643) from three point range and is shooting over 50 percent (12-21) for the season.
25-20's Ashley Walker's 21 points against Princeton was the 25th time she has scored 20 or more points in a game in her Cal career.
IN THE PAINTThe Bears scored 20 of their 36 second half points in the paint. They did not hit a jump shot in the half until the 8:22 mark when Alexis Gray-Lawson drained a three.
BEARS VS. RANKED OPPONENTSCal's Rutgers was the Bears' first taste of top-25 action this season. Last season, Cal went 2-4 in the regular season against ranked opponents, coming up with victories over No. 18/23 Vanderbilt, 67-59 (12/2/07), and at No. 25/NR Arizona State 64-51 (1/17/08). They added two postseason losses to ranked teams, falling in the Pac-10 tournament to No. 4/7 Stanford (56-35) and in the second round of the NCAA tournament to No. 20/16 George Washington (55-53). Cal has three other victories over ranked teams since coach Joanne Boyle has taken over the program, with six total in her three plus seasons at the helm.
SCOUTING TEXAS CHRISTIAN (TCU)The No. 22/RV Texas Christian (TCU) Lady Frogs (5-1, 0-0 Mountain West) entered the Associated Press' Top-25 poll for the first time in more than three years at No. 24 in the Week 1 poll after an upset of then No. 3-ranked Maryland, which marked only the second time in program history TCU had defeated a top-3 team. With TCU looking to replace five seniors that accounted for nearly 60 percent of the scoring from last season's team, the success of a group of seven newcomers will be very important this season. Six of the 10 Lady Frogs to see action so far this season had never before suited up for TCU. As a group, the newcomers accounted for 89 of the team's 153 points in the Frogs' first two games (58 percent). It's a pair of veterans that are leading the team in scoring. Junior guard TK LaFleur (17.0 ppg) and sophomore guard Helena Sverrisdottir (16.0 ppg) are the pacing the team on the offensive end. The Lady Frogs are No. 22 in the AP Poll, but fell to 'others receiving votes' in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll.
This will be the fourth meeting between Cal and TCU with Cal holding a 2-1 advantage. Cal defeated the Lady Frogs 74-55 last season in Fort Worth. Ashley Walker scored 19 points. Rama N'daiye pulled in 17 rebounds.
TCU opened its run at the Colliers International Classic with a 73-59 victory over Saint Louis Saturday evening at Cal's Haas Pavilion. The Frogs' season record improved to 7-2, as the squad successfully regrouped from Thursday's road loss at Fresno State. The squad also gave Head Coach Jeff Mittie a victory in his 300th game at the TCU helm.
Sophomore Helena Sverrisdottir led TCU with her second straight 20-point performance, as she scored a game-high 20 points to go with 11 rebounds. The effort also marked her third double-double this season. Junior TK LaFleur added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, while junior Shayla Moore and sophomore Emily Carter chipped in 12 each. Moore's total marked a career best, while the two Frogs combined to go 14-of-15 from the free-throw line.
Similar to Thursday's contest, TCU surged out to an early double-digit lead before watching its opponent fight back in the second half. Unlike its matchup with Fresno State, the Frogs were able to hold off Saint Louis Saturday due in part to its success at the free-throw line, where they went 28-of-32 for the game and 19-of-20 in the second half. The points at the charity stripe helped the squad recover from shooting only 27.3 percent after halftime.
Trailing by 12 points at the half, Saint Louis exited the locker room ready to play. The squad scored 10 of the first 13 points of the period to climb to within five of the Frogs, 44-39. Shayla Moore followed by giving the Frogs their first field goal of the half with a trey from the right wing, but SLU continued to surge, cutting the lead to as few as two points with 12:42 to play.
TCU responded by scoring 18 of the game's next 23 points, with 10 coming on free throw. Sverrisdottir alone accounted for eight of the Frogs' final 20 points.