No. 9/7 California Faces No. 5/6 Oklahoma in San Jose
Dec. 9, 2008
Friday, Dec. 12, 8:00 p.m.: No. 9/7 Cal at San Jose State
Saturday, Dec. 13, 6:00 p.m.: No. 9/7 Cal vs. No. 5/6 Oklahoma (at San Jose State)(Radio: KALX 90.7 fm, TV: none)
The California Golden Bears hung on to a spot in the top 10 in the national rankings after being handed their first loss of the season Sunday, Dec. 7, falling 82-73 to No. 22 TCU. After spending two weeks with a program-best No. 3 ranking, the Bears are ranked No. 9 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 7 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll. The Bears were ranked No. 9 in the preseason in both polls.
The Bears will take on their third ranked opponent of the season when they face No. 5/6 Oklahoma Saturday in the finale of the Basketball by the Bay tournament at San Jose State. Cal has six wins over ranked opponents since 2005-06 and an overall 6-16 mark over that same span.
The loss to TCU ended the Bears' streak of seven wins to open the season, the best start in program history. It also put an end to a 33-game non-conference home win streak. Prior to Sunday, the Bears had not lost on the home court to a non-conference opponent since Dec. 8, 2002, when they fell to Colorado in the final of this same tournament, at the time called the Oakland Tribune Classic. In regular season action, the Bears are now 34-6 against non-conference opponents since Boyle took over the program in 2005-06. Their best regular season non-conference record came in 2006-07 when the Bears had just one loss, to No. 14 Vanderbilt in Nashville, to go with 10 non-Pac-10 wins.
Despite her team's loss to TCU, senior forward Ashley Walker was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week. This is the second consecutive Pac-10 Player of the Week honor for Walker and a program-best sixth time in her career she has won the award. Walker scored 52 points with 20 rebounds in the two games at the Colliers International Classic, also earning her the second all-tournament team selection in as many weeks (Walker was named the MVP of the Paradise Jam tournament the week previous). Walker scored 31 points in Sunday's loss, the third time this season and the fifth time in her career she has scored 30 or more points in a game. She also had 12 rebounds against TCU as she posted her third double-double of the season and the 37th of her career.
Junior guard Natasha Vital was also named to the all-tournament team. Vital scored 33 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the tournament. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson posted the first double-double of her career with 12 points and 10 assists against Princeton.
GOLDEN BEAR NOTES
WINNING STREAKS COME TO AN ENDThe Bears, whose seven victories to start the season was the most in program history, look to match the mark of the 1986-87 which lost the first game of the season and then won eight straight to start the year 8-1. The team came up two shy of 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 had not lost a regular-season non-conference game to an unranked opponent since the 2005-06 season.
BEARS VS. RANKED OPPONENTSCal's Rutgers game 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). The Bears 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.
SCORING AVERAGEThe Bears came into last week holding opponents to 49.3 ppg, ranking them fifth among all NCAA I teams and first in the Pac-10. After last weekend's action, Cal fell to 28th on the list and second in the Pac-10, seeing its opponent scoring average move to 53.9. TCU's 82 points was the most scored by an opponent since the Bears loss to Stanford on Jan. 14, 2006. The Bears had gone 74 games keeping their opponents to under 80 points scored. They only allowed 70 or more points in a game four times last season.
THREESThe Bears hit 7-of-27 from three-point range against TCU. Natasha Vital and Ashley Walker, the two hottest shooters on the team, combined to shoot 50% from three-point range, going 4-8. The rest of the team went 3-for-19 (.157) in the game. The Bears started the season 4-for-25 (.160), but had raised the mark to .368 before the TCU game.
HOT SHOOTINGAshley Walker and Natasha Vital both have a hot hand right now. Walker hit eight straight field goals during the midst of the Colliers International Classic and had a span between in which she hit 12 of 13 shots. Walker shot 64.5 percent from the field in the tournament. Walker is also shooting well from the line. She went into the Colliers with a streak of 16-straight made freethrows. She broke that on her first trip to the line in the tourney, but comes into the Basketball by the Bay tournament having hit her last eight consecutive freethrows. She was 11-14 overall from the freethrow line last weekend and is 26-29 for the two tournaments combined (.897). Walker has three games this season in which she was perfect from the line.
Walker's 58.0 percent field goal shooting percentage leads the Pac-10 and ranks her 18th among all DI players. She has a career mark of 52.1 percent.
Natasha Vital went 7-for-12 (.583) from three-point range at the Colliers tournament. In the last two tournaments, Vital is 12-for-21 (.571). For the season, she is 15-for-28 (.536) and has hit a third of all the three-pointers for the Bears. Vital still does not have enough attempts to qualifying for national or conference rankings in three-point efficiency. If she did, she would lead the Pac-10 and would rank sixth among all NCAA I players. The minimum to qualify for rankings is two made-threes per game. Vital has 15 makes, one shy of the 16 needed to qualify for the national rankings.
Vital was also perfect from the line in the TCU game, going 6-for-6.
LEADING THE Pac-10Ashley Walker continues to leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Coming into the weekend, her 23.3 ppg paces the conference and ranks her No. 6 among all DI players, moving her up three places from last week. Gabriela Marginean of Drexel leads the nation at 27.1 ppg. Walker is the only Pac-10 player to be ranked in the top 100 in scoring.
Alexis Gray-Lawson took over the conference lead in assist-to-turnover ratio when she had 12 assists to just three turnovers at the Paradise Jam tournament. Gray-Lawson's 10 assists to two turnovers on Saturday helped her maintain the conference lead. Her 2.92 ratio is 10th best among all DI players. Gray-Lawson has only had one season in which she had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, her injured-shortened sophomore campaign when she had a 1.47 in her nine games.
26-20'sAshley Walker's 21 point performance against Princeton marked the 25th time she has scored 20 or more points in a game in her Cal career. Her 31 against TCU marked the 26th time she had 20 or more points and the fifth time she has scored more than 30. It was the 43th time that any Cal player has scored 30 or more points in a game.
DOUBLE-DOUBLESAlexis Gray-Lawson became the second Bear this season to post her first career double double when she scored 12 poitns with 10 assists against Princeton. Lauren Greif posted her first career double-double when she scored 15 points with 11 rebounds against South Florida in the Paradise Jam tournament a week earlier. Gray-Lawson's double-double was the first time since Dec. 10, 2005, when Sarah Pool scored 14 points with 11 assists that a Cal player had a double-double with points and assists. Her 10 assists was the first time a Cal player had double-digits in that category since Natasha Vital had 12 assists against Arizona on February 16, 2008. Vital has three double-digit assist games in her career, but none have been partnered with a double-digit scoring effort.
WALKER No. 2 ALL-TIME REBOUNDERAshley Walker's eight rebounds against Iowa moved her to second on the all-time Cal rebounding list, passing Kesha Martin (1989-93), who has 875, to make her the second leading rebounder in school history. Walker now has 897 career rebounds, needing 103 to become just the second player in Cal history to grab 1,000 boards, and is 133 rebounds shy of passing Colleen Galloway (1978-81) to become Cal's all-time leading rebounder.
WALKER HEADED FOR THIRD PLACEAshley Walker entered the season with 1,470 career points, 30 points shy of becoming just the seventh player in Cal history to score 1,500 points. She scored her 1500th career point in the first half of the Nevada game. Walker is just the seventh player in Cal history to score at lest 1,500 points. Walker`s 52 points last weekend moved her past Teresa Palmisano (1986-91, 1610 points) to take over fourth place on the all-time career list. She needs four points to pass Cynthia Cooke (1982-85, 1,641 points) and move into third on the all-time points list.
ALL-TIME ASSIST LEADERSNatasha Vital moved into the top 10 in career assists yesterday, passing Sherrise Smith (1996-99, 292) to officially enter the Bear record book. Vital is seven assists shy of career assist number 300.
GRAY-LAWSON's 1000 POINT MEMBERSHIPAlexis Gray-Lawson became the 20th member of Cal's 1,000 point club on Nov. 29 in the third game of the Paradise Jam Tournament against Iowa, with 1:26 left in the first half on a runner through the lane. Gray-Lawson needs 198 points to move into the top-10 on the career-scoring list.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,500Senior forward Devanei Hampton comes into the game with 1,329 career points, 171 points shy of joining Walker at 1500 career points. Hampton is also 40 points shy of passing Kesha Martin (1989-93, 1,368 points) and moving into eighth place on the career scoring list.
COLLIER'S INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC
No. 3 California 75, Princeton 53Ashley Walker shook off a sluggish start to score 21 points, Natasha Vital added 12 points and No. 3 California beat Princeton 75-53 on Saturday in the first round of the Collier's International Classic. Walker, who entered averaging 22.3 points, struggled with her shot early but scored Cal's first three baskets in the second half. The Bears steadily pulled away and took advantage of Princeton's mistake-prone offense to improve on the best start in school history. The Bears didn't start pulling away from the Tigers until midway through the first half. Vital's 3-pointer sparked a 12-2 run to pull Cal ahead 20-10, and Devanei Hampton later sank a pair of free throws to start a 7-0 run. Vital added her second trey of the half with four minutes left to put the Bears ahead by 13, then made her third 3-pointer from just inside the halfcourt line as the buzzer sounded, giving Cal a 39-22 lead at the break.
Vital had four 3-pointers for Cal, including a buzzer-beater from nearly halfcourt in the first half. Alexis Gray-Lawson added 12 points and 10 assists for Cal, posting the first double-double of her career. It was the first time since Dec. 10, 2005, when Sarah Pool scored 14 points with 11 assists, that a Cal player had a double-double with points and assists. Gray-Lawson, who leads the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, had just two turnovers to go with the 10 assists.
No. 22 TCU 82, No. 3 California 73No. 22 Texas Christian handed third-ranked California its first loss of the season with a hard-fought 82-73 victory in the championship game of the Colliers International Classic on Sunday. Ashley Walker had 31 points - one off her career high - and 12 rebounds, reaching the 30-point mark for the third time this season, but it wasn't enough for Cal in this sloppy performance. Natasha Vital added 21 points and seven rebounds for Cal, scoring on a putback with 45.7 seconds to play to pull her team within 76-73. The Golden Bears pressed full court and quickly fouled Shayla Moore, who made both free throws at 38.2 then two more with 22.5 to go.
Cal struggled to get in sync during the first half, having a tough time creating shots on offense against TCU's stingy defense and giving up key baskets on the other end. TCU's game plan was to constantly mix up its defense to keep the Bears off balance.
Cal caught a break when the TCU bench was whistled for a technical foul with 8:30 to play. Walker made both free throws, then Alexis Gray-Lawson hit two more as the Bears took a 62-61 lead. But the Bears couldn't do enough right late.
TOURNAMENT NOTESTCU's victory snapped a streak of five straight championships for Cal in their own December tournament and a string of five straight MVPs. 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 now 16-12 in the championship game. The Bears failed to advance to the championship game three times. Cal has had a player named tournament MVP 15 times.Ashley Walker's 31 points was seven shy of the tournament record of 38 scored by Weber State's Cindy Stumpf in 1980.Two players, Alexis Gray-Lawson (12 pts, 10 assists) and TCU's Helen Sverrisdottir (17 points, 10 assists) had double-doubles consisting of points and assists. Ashley Walker (31 points, 12 rebounds) and Helen Sverrisdottir (20 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles consisting of points and rebounds. This was the second straight year the Bears played a nationally-ranked opponent in the championship game. Cal defeated No. 23/18 Vanderbilt 67-59 in the 2007 final. It was the third time in four seasons that an Ivy League school was in the consolation game. Harvard won the consolation in 2006. Columbia fell in the consolation in 2005.
BASKETBALL BY THE BAY
The Bears played in their third tournament in three weeks, the Basketball by the Bay Tournament, hosted by San Jose State, at Walt McPherson Court at the 5,000 seat Event Center in the heart of the SJSU campus in San Jose, Calif. The tournament schedule is:
Friday, December 12
6:00 p.m. - Oklahoma vs. CSU Bakersfield
8:00 p.m. - San Jose State vs. California
Saturday, December 13
4:00 p.m. - San Jose State vs. CSU Bakersfield
6:00 p.m. - Oklahoma vs. California
SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE (1-6, 0-0 WAC)The San Jose State Spartans come into the tournament with a 1-6 record. The Spartans, who finished the 2007-08 campaign with a 3-28 record, were picked to finish eighth in the WAC in the preseason coaches poll and ninth in the preseason media poll. Senior guard Natalie White was named to the Preseason All-Western Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Second Team, as selected by the conference's head coaches. White led the Spartans in scoring last season as she averaged 16.0 points per game. She scored in double figures in 26 of her 28 games played and 20 or more points in seven games. White scored the 1,000th point of her career Nov. 28 against Sacramento State. She also hit the game winning shot with time expiring in that game to give the Spartans their lone victory of the season, 49-48.
Cal leads the all-time series 22-8 and has won the last 17 match ups between the two. The last time the two teams played, Dec. 8, 2005, the Bears earned a 78-57 victory in San Jose. Alexis Gray-Lawson scored 18 points with six assists in the game.
The last time San Jose State beat Cal was on leap day, Feb. 29, 1980 when the Spartans came away with a 77-70 victory on their home court.
SCOUTING No. 5/6 OKLAHOMA (6-2, 0-0 BIG 12)Oklahoma begins the season with high expectations and high rankings, No. 4 in the Preseason AP Poll and No. 7 in the Coaches' Poll. Returning for Oklahoma are 11 players, including four starters and three-time consensus All-American senior forward Courtney Paris. Paris had 24 points and 10 rebounds for her 100th consecutive double-double against Arkansas State last Sunday. Paris' streak is an NCAA record. It began almost exactly three years ago on Dec. 5, 2005. Other players to watch include Courtney Paris' twin sister, senior forward Ashley Paris who has posted double-doubles in her last six games, 2007-08 Big 12 freshman of the year, guard Danielle Robinson, and preseason Big 12 freshman of the year, guard Whitney Hand.
The Sooners only two losses this season are to No. 2 North Carolina, 80-79, in the final of the women's preseason NIT and to No. 1 Connecticut, 106-78, on the Sooners home court.
Cal has won both of their previous games against Oklahoma. The last time the two teams played was Nov. 28, 1987 when Cal won 81-66 at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu.
Projected Starting LineupPos No Name HT. Cl. PPG RPG APG OtherF 5 Ashley Paris 6-3 Sr. 15.8 10.5 2.0 57.4 FG%C 3 Courtney Paris 6-4 Sr. 14.8 14.0 1.0 2.8 blocksF 21 Amanda Thompson 6-0 Jr. 12.3 6.7 3.2 33.3 3FG%G 13 Danielle Robinson 5-9 So. 14.5 2.7 4.7 1.8 stealsG 25 Whitney Hand 6-1 Fr. 9.8 2.3 1.5 87.5 FT%