No. 9 Cal Closes Out Regular Season at Home
March 3, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 7:00 p.m.: No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Cal (Radio: KALX 90.7-FM, TV: none)
Saturday, Mar. 7, 12:30 p.m.: Arizona at No. 9 Cal (Radio: KALX 90.7-FM, TV: none)
The California Golden Bears (23-4, 14-2 Pac-10) open up their final two-game home stand of the season with a key game against the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils (22-6, 14-2 Pac-10). The Bears play their final home game of the 2008-09 regular season Saturday, March 7, when they host the Arizona Wildcats (11-16, 4-12 Pac-10).
The Bears and Sun Devils are currently locked in a tie for second place in the Pac-10 standings. They are both just one game behind the Stanford Cardinal in a three-way race for the Pac-10 regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament. ASU comes into the game riding a 14-game winning streak. The Sun Devils have not lost a game since the Bay Area school swept ASU in Tempe to start Pac-10 play.
Cal comes into the game looking to rebound from last week's heartbreaking loss at UCLA that dropped it into a second-place tie in the Pac-10. Despite the loss, Cal managed to remain in the top-10 in the polls. They have been ranked in the top-10 for 12 weeks this season in the AP Poll and for all 17 weeks, including the preseason poll, in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.
Prior to the UCLA game, the Bears had been in control of their own destiny in regards to earning the program's first Pac-10 regular season championship. The Bears can still win the title, but it will require a pair of Cal victories and at least one Stanford loss. Arizona State also still has a chance to become the Pac-10 champion if they sweep Cal and Stanford this week. All three teams are currently ranked in the top-25 with Stanford moving up to No. 2 in both polls this week.
There is very good news for Cal fans in regard to the injury sustained by junior point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson in the first half of the UCLA game. Gray-Lawson went down with a knee injury just prior to halftime of the game. MRI results on the knee reveal she sustained a left knee sprain, but there was not any damage to the ligaments. Gray-Lawson's status for Thursday's game is listed as day-to-day and may be a game-time decision as to whether or not she will play.
Cal will try for its 24th win of the season. They have topped the 24-game mark only twice before, the 1983-84 season (24-8) and last year when they won a record 27 games (27-7). The Bears are in even more rarefied territory when it comes to conference victories. The 14 conference wins so far this season is second only to the 15 earned by the Bears in last season's campaign when they went 15-3.
MILESTONESTwo games after senior forward Ashley Walker became Cal's career rebounding leader in the Oregon State game, Feb. 21, she reached another career milestone. Walker became just the second player in Cal history and the 11th Pac-10 player to score 2,000 career points. She reached the milestone when she made a layup with 18:17 remaining in the second half of the UCLA game. A little over 10 minutes later, senior forward Devanei Hampton reached a milestone of her own when she scored on a jumper at 7:40 to post her 1,500th career point. Hampton is the eighth player in Cal history and the 39th Pac-10 player to score 1,500 career points.
2000, 1500, 1000, 500Cal's starting have the distinction of having one member score her 2000th career point (Walker, March 1), another her 1500th career point (Hampton, March 1), one score her 1000th career point (Gray-Lawson, Nov. 29) and two score their 500th career points (junior guard Natasha Vital, Nov. 11 and junior guard Lauren Grief, Nov. 27) all in the same season.
** The Bears have five games this season in which their opponent has scored 40 or fewer points.
** The Bears are 19-0 when holding their opponents to 55 or fewer points
** Cal is ranked 10th among all NCAA teams in scoring defense, allowing 53.6 points per game. Green Bay leads the nation with it 51.0 ppg average.
** Cal's opponents are averaging 52.8 points in Pac-10 games.
** Cal is second in the Pac-10 and 37th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting just 36.5 percent against the Bears.
PAC-10/NATIONAL LEADERSAshley Walker continues to leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Her 19.8 ppg paces the conference and ranks her 15th among all DI players. Alysha Clark of Middle Tennessee leads the nation, averaging 27.0. Walker was the only Pac-10 player to be ranked in the top-100 in scoring average this week. Walker is third in the Pac-10 and 17th in the country in field-goal shooting percentage (55.3 percent).
THREE-POINTERSAlexis Gray-Lawson made eight straight three-point attempts spanning three games. She went 1-for-1 against Oregon, 3-for-3 against Oregon State, She started 4-for-4 against UCLA before missing her last two shots to snap the streak. In the last four games, she is 10-of-15 shooting from long range (66.7 percent). She now ranks third in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting with a 42.7. She ranks second in Pac-10 games, connecting on 46.6 percent (27-of-58)
Junior guard Natasha Vital's ranks second in the conference in overall games at 44.4 percent.
The Bears had one of their best long-range shooting performances of the season Friday at USC, hitting nine of 14 three-point attempts (64.3 percent).
CAREER FREE THROWSAshley Walker became Cal's all-time leader in made free throws in the USC game on March 1. Her 10-for-12 performance from the line gave her 483 in her career, the most ever by a Bear player. It was the second time this season Walker made 10 or more free throws in a game.
SHOOTING SHIRTS AUCTIONThe Cal team will be wearing special shooting shirts during pregame warm-ups for the game on Thursday, March 5. These shirts, designed by each of the players, will then be auctioned off during the game on Saturday, March 7 to help raise money for Seeds Organization, a charity that benefits African orphanages. CLICK HERE for more information about the auction and to see a photo gallery of the players' creations.
DEVDevanei Hampton is averaging 9.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game since returning to the starting lineup. In Hampton's first nine games of the season, she averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds.
MORE NOTES ON WALKER
** Walker has scored in double digits in each of the last 11 games. There have only been three times this year Walker has been held to single-digit point totals
** Walker has led the team in scoring in 10 of the last 11 games and has been the team's leading rebounder in the last eight games
** Walker has hit 10 or more field goals in a game six times this season.
** Walker has shot 50.0 percent or better in all but six games this season. She has a career-best 54.9 field-goal percentage this season, third best in the Pac-10 and ranking her No. 17 in the country. She started the UCLA game 7-for-7 from the field before missing her final three attempts.
** Walker has 35 career games scoring 20 or more points. This season, she has topped 20 points 16 times and has done so nine times in Pac-10 play.
** Walker was a nominee for WBCA Player of the Month in December, a month in which she averaged 22.6 points per game and shot 61.4 percent from the floor.
** Walker was a nominee for WBCA Player of the Month in January, a month in which she averaged 18.1 points per game with 7.4 rebounds per game.
** Walker has started every game since her freshman year and has scored in every game since her freshman year. The closest she ever came to being shut out was in the Pac-10 finals last season against Stanford when she scored her first, and only, basket with 6:20 remaining in the game.
** Walker's name was added for the ninth and 10th times in the Cal record book in cumulative career stat categories when she became No. 10 in career steals with 159 and No. 10 in games played. She now ranks No. 4 in career games played with 124. The record is 130.
** Walker now holds the record for most made free throws by a Cal player. She began the season at No. 4 on the career list.
** Walker has been named a John R. Wooden Award midseason top-20 candidate.
HS ALL-AMERICANSThe incoming Bears of 2009-10 dominated the two high school All-American teams that were announced in the past few weeks with five of their recruits named to at least one of the two high school All-American teams. Forward DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) had the honor of making both teams. Playing in the WBCA All-American game April 4 in St. Louis will be guard Layshia Clarendon (San Bernadino, Calif.) and Stallworth. Players selected for the McDonald's All-American game on April 1 in Miami include forward Gennifer Brandon (Sylmar, Calif.), guard Eliza Pierre (Pasadena, Calif.), guard Tierra Rogers (San Francisco, Calif.) and Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.). Both All-American games are a national stage for the top female basketball prospects in the nation.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATEArizona State comes into the game with a program-best 14 game winning streak. It has not lost a contest since Cal and Stanford swept it on the opening weekend of Pac-10 play. UConn is the only team with a longer active winning streak right now (30 games).
ASU is third in the nation in three-point field goal accuracy, connecting on 40.1 percent of its attempts. They are fifth in assists per game, averaging 17.2 assists on 26.5 field goals per game.
Five of ASU's six losses this season have come to teams currently ranked in the top-25 of the current Associated Press poll - No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 2 Stanford, No. 9 California, No. 16 Texas and No. 17 Florida. Three of those five losses - Florida (65-60), Stanford (64-61) and California (54-53) - came by a combined nine points.
Cal leads the all-time series 27-26 and has won the last four meetings, including the 54-53 victory in Tempe earlier this season.
Arizona State Probable Starters (2008-09 per-game averages) No. Name Ht. Yr. Hometown PPG RPGG 20 Briann January 5-8 Sr. Spokane, Wash. 12.0 2.5G 01 Dymond Simon 5-5 Jr. Phoenix, Ariz. 14.0 1.9G 13 Danielle Orsillo 5-9 Jr. Oroville, Calif. 8.4 2.6C 33 Sybil Dosty 6-3 Sr. Tucson, Ariz. 8.5 7.1F 34 Lauren Lacey 6-3 Sr. Olympia Fields, Ill. 7.1 4.0
SCOUTING ARIZONAThe Arizona Wildcats' roster features one of the most dominant players in the Pac-10, sophomore Ify Ibekwe. However, Ibekwe, the team's leader in points (15.6 ppg), and the Pac-10's leading rebounder (11.5 rpg), missed both games last week against the Washington schools. She has, however, received a brace to help stabilize her knee and her status will be re-evaluated later in the week. She is currently questionable for the game on Thursday evening at Stanford and Saturday against Cal.
With a roster depleted due to injuries, the active and healthy Wildcats have seen their share of minutes this season. Thirty-three times this season an Arizona player has logged at least 40 minutes of action in a game. Ashley Frazier leads the way as she has played all 40 minutes in 19-of-27 contests, including a 53-minute log during the triple-overtime win against Loyola Marymount and all 45 minutes against USC, and is averaging a Pac-10 leading 39.6 minutes per contest. Ibekwe (34.4), Reiko Thomas (32.1), Amina Njonkou (30.7), and Courtney Clements (30.6) are also logging heavy minutes for the Wildcats.
Arizona leads the all-time series 29-20, but Cal has won the last six meetings between the two squads including Cal's 56-46 victory in Tucson to start Pac-10 play earlier this season.
Arizona Probable Starters (2008-09 per-game averages) No. Name Ht. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APGF 32 Amina Njonkou 6-1 Sr. Foumban, Cameroon 9.5 7.6 1.3F 4 Sarah Hays 6-1 Sr. Oracle, Ariz. 1.1 2.8 0.2G 54 Courtney Clements 6-0 Fr. Long Beach, Calif. 9.7 3.4 0.7G 11 Ashley Frazier 5-6 Jr. Dallas, Tex. 6.3 1.9 4.2G 10 Faihza Hill 5-5 So. San Francisco, Calif. 2.8 1.4 0.5