Cal Hosts Eastern Washington in Preseason WNIT First Round

Nov. 8, 2005

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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Riding a streak of 12 straight non-conference home victories, California opens the 2005-06 season against Eastern Washington Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. This marks the Golden Bears first appearance in the elite 16-team tournament and the earliest season opener in school history.

The winner of the Cal-Eastern Washington game will face the winner of the New Mexico-Oral Roberts contest Nov. 13 at one of the winners' campuses. New Mexico and Oral Roberts play Nov. 11 in Albuquerque at 7 p.m.

Joanne Boyle begins her first season as head coach at California after directing Richmond to three straight 20-plus wins seasons and three postseason berths. In 2005, the Spiders earned their first NCAA Tournament bid in 14 years.

Freshmen Alexis Gray-Lawson (guard) and Ashley Walker (forward/center) each posted 25 points to lead Cal to a 94-72 exhibition victory over the Bay Area Pro Am Nov. 2. Walker added 18 rebounds, and Gray-Lawson had nine boards and six assists. The Bears led 44-28 at the half.

Forward/center Devanei Hampton, forward Shantrell Sneed and guard Jené Morris are also part of the Bears' seventh-ranked recruiting class, according to Blue Star Index. Hampton, who will miss the Eastern Washington game due to an at least two-game suspension, was named a 2005 McDonald's All-American, along with Gray-Lawson. A decision on Hampton's status is expected after the EWU game.

Forward Reneé Wright is the only senior on this year's Cal team and is the Bears' top returning scorer from last season at 7.5 points per game. Sophomore center Jessica Lawson (Pac-10 All Freshman pick) would have been the team's top returning scorer at 10.6 ppg, but she'll miss the year due to an ACL injury she sustained in October.

With Lawson's injury, redshirt junior point guard Sarah Pool is the team's only returning starter. In 2004-05, Pool, who tallied 15 points against the Pro Am, averaged 4.1 ppg and ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in assists (4.2 apg).

Sophomore forward Krista Foster is expected to play an increased role this season. Foster notched 14 points in Cal's exhibition win after averaging 4.5 ppg and 1.9 rpg during her rookie campaign.

Cal also returns letterwinners Keanna Levy and Emmelie Geraedts. Levy, a 5-10 guard, and Geraedts, a 6-2 center/forward, were key reserves for the team in 2004-05.

The Bears finished last season with an 11-18 overall record and in eighth place in the Pac-10 with a 4-14 mark. Cal won its first round Pac-10 Tournament game (over Washington State) for the third consecutive season.

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