Cal Makes Sweet 16 For First Time With 99-73 Romp Over Virginia

March 23, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) -A couple of seniors teamed up to take California where it's never been before.

Ashley Walker scored 20 of her career-high-tying 32 points in the first half, and Cal used its strong inside game to rout Virginia 99-73 Monday night, sending the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament's final 16 for the first time in school history.

Devanei Hampton had 22 points and 11 rebounds and junior Alexis Gray-Lawson added 22 points for the fourth-seeded Bears (27-6), who advanced to the Trenton Regional semifinals Sunday in New Jersey. They'll play the winner of Tuesday's game between Connecticut and Florida.

Monica Wright scored 26 points for fifth-seeded Virginia (24-10), seeking its first trip to the regional semifinals since 2000.

The loss denied Hall of Fame coach Debbie Ryan her 700th career victory. Wright fouled out with 2:23 remaining.

The Bears' 27th victory equaled the most in program history, a mark set last year when they were 27-7. They improved to 4-7 in NCAA tournament games, and advanced out of the second round a year after losing to George Washington in their second game.

Virginia owns a much grander basketball history, with Final Four appearances in 1990, '91 and '92 under Ryan, who has spent her entire 31-year career in Charlottesville.

But the Cavaliers simply couldn't match up with the inside duo of the 6-foot-1 Walker and 6-3 Hampton, seniors who led the Bears to a 32-18 first-half edge in the paint.

It was Cal's first win over Virginia in three meetings. The Bears hadn't beaten an Atlantic Coast Conference school since Dec. 21, 1993, when they defeated Duke and Joanne Boyle, the current Cal coach who was a first-year Duke assistant.

Walker snapped a 12-all tie with a layup that launched the Bears on a 41-23 run and gave them a 53-35 halftime lead. Walker had 16 points in the spurt, Hampton added eight, Lauren Greif seven and Gray-Lawson six on back-to-back 3-pointers.

Greif finished with 10 points and a career-high nine assists.

Walker's jumper in the paint gave Cal its first double-digit lead, 28-18, and the Bears went on to their largest lead of 19 points near the end of the half.

Cal outscored the Cavaliers 10-6, including 3-pointers by Gray-Lawson and Natasha Vital, to open the second half and take a 63-41 lead.

Virginia answered with a 16-5 run to close to 68-57 with 11:43 remaining. Wright scored 10 points as the Cavaliers got more aggressive and took advantage of misses and turnovers by the Bears.

But 11 points was as close as Virginia got the rest of the game.

Walker, Hampton and Gray-Lawson combined for a 13-4 spurt that pushed the Bears' lead to 81-61 with 6:26 remaining. The trio scored 76 of their team's 99 points.

Walker scored more than 20 points for the fifth time in six career NCAA tournament games. She had 21 points in Cal's 23-point first-round win over Fresno State.

Cal was right at home at Galen Center on Southern California's campus, where the Bears improved to 6-1 this season. Their only loss was to USC in the Pac-10 tourney semifinals.

Los Angeles Sparks and former Tennessee star Candace Parker took in the game, along with Sparks coach Michael Cooper. Parker is expecting her first child this summer.

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