No. 15/16 Cal Looks for Split at USC

Dec. 21, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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No. 15/16 California (8-2, 0-1 Pac-10) looks to split its opening week of Pac-10 play when the Golden Bears travel to USC (6-5, 0-1 Pac-10) Friday, Dec. 22, at 1 p.m. The game will take place at the new Galen Center on campus.

The Bears, who have equaled last season's record through 10 games, swept the season series with USC last season for the first time since 1989-90.After a few days off for the holidays, Cal begins a four-game homestand against No. 10 Arizona State Thursday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m.

Cal is coming off a 77-68 overtime setback at UCLA Dec. 20. The Bears led by as many as 10 points early in the second half but ended up losing an overtime road game to the Bruins for the second straight year. The 77 points are the most the Bears have surrendered this season. Sophomore forward/center Devanei Hampton led Cal with a career-high 27 points. The Women of Troy lost their Pac-10 opener to Stanford, 62-46.

Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker continues to be a consistent presence for the Bears, as she is averaging 19.7 g and 8.2 rpg and has notched double-figure points in every game this season.

Freshman point guard Natasha Vital earned her first collegiate start at UCLA in place of sophomore Alexis Gray-Lawson who will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Vital recorded seven points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 39 minutes of action against the Bruins.

Rounding out Cal's starting lineup are senior guard Keanna Levy and freshman guard Lauren Greif. Levy has blossomed into arguably the most improved player in the Pac-10 this season. After seeing limited action as a reserve her freshman through junior years, Levy is averaging career bests of 7.6 ppg and 4.4 rpg. Meanwhile, Greif plays like a veteran, averaging 8.8 ppg and 5.9 rpg. She has hauled in a career-high 10 rebounds in her last two outings.

With the loss of Gray-Lawson, Cal currently suits up nine healthy players. Junior forward Krista Foster and freshman forward/center Rama N'diaye see the bulk of the minutes off the bench.Cal has outrebounded eight of its first 10 opponents and tied Fresno State on the glass.

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