California Enters the Pac-10 Tourney as the No. 4 Seed
March 9, 2010
The California Golden Bears (17-12, 11-7 Pac-10) open up their Pac-10 Tournament action in a quarterfinal game against the Arizona State Sun Devils (17-12, 9-9 Pac-10) on Friday, March 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. The winner will advance to play the winner of Stanford's quarterfinal game against either Arizona or Oregon State in Saturday's semifinal. The semifinals and the finals will be televised on Fox Sports Net (locally on Comcast Sports Net). All tournament games will have live streaming audio available through CalBears.com.
Arizona State has a pair of comeback victories over the Bears this season. Both times, Cal went into the games having won their last five games, only to have those win streaks snapped by ASU. Both games were decided in the final minute of play including the 63-61 victory on Jan. 30 in Berkeley that was decided on a buzzer-beating shot by Arizona State guard Danielle Orsillo.
Cal and ASU have faced each other three times in the Pac-10 Tournament. Inthe second-ever Pac-10 Tourney in San Jose, Cal defeated ASU 46-38 when Cal was a nine seed and ASU an eight. The victory was Cal's first ever Pac-10 Tournament victory.
More recently, ASU and Cal have twice squared off in the semifinals. In 2007, the Sun Devils earned a 60-53 victory to earn their second trip to the Pac-10 Championship Game. They ultimately fell 62-55 to Stanford. In 2008, Cal topped ASU 65-61 to advance to their first ever Pac-10 Tournament Championship Game. Cal went on to lose 56-35 to Stanford.
Last season, ASU was upset in the quarterfinals, falling 70-65 to the streaking USC Trojans. Cal lost in the semis to the Trojans 69-67 after the Bears had seemingly tied the game with less than a half second remaining on the clock. The basket was whistled off and USC advanced to the Championship where they fell 89-64 to Stanford.
This will be the first time that Arizona State and Cal have played one another in a quarterfinal game.
Arizona State holds a 29-27 advantage in the all-time series. They have won the last three meetings between the two teams. Cal had won four straight match-ups prior to the 2008-09 regular season finale when ASU upset Cal 63-41 at Haas Pavilion.
This is Cal's eighth time playing in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals. They are 3-4 in quarterfinal games and have won three straight. Overall, Cal is 7-8 in Pac-10 Tournament games since the tournament's inception in 2002.
PAC-10 SCORING RACE Alexis Gray-Lawson has slipped to second in the battle for the Pac-10 Scoring Title. Gray-Lawson is averaging 18.0 points per game while Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike is at 18.2. The scoring race will continue on through the post-season.
If Gray-Lawson should win the title, it will be the second consecutive year a Cal player has led the Conference in scoring. Ashley Walker ended the 2008-09 season with a Pac-10-best 18.9 points per game. Walker was the third Bear to win a Pac-10 scoring title. Jennifer Bennett, with a 23.7 points per game average, was the first ever Pac-10 scoring champ for women's basketball in 1986-87, the first season the Conference sponsored women's basketball. Trisha Stafford also led the league in scoring in 1991-92 with a 22.3 ppg average.
It would also be the second time in Gray-Lawson's career that she ended the year leading the Conference in a statistical category. She finished the 2007-08 season with a 40.0 three-point shooting percentage, tops in the Pac-10.
500 POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson scored her 500th point of the season against Arizona State. Gray-Lawson has moved into the top-10 in the Cal record book for most points in a single season. She enters today's game with 523, in ninth place on the list.
SCORING MILESTONES Two Cal players are flirting with making it to significant scoring milestones. Senior guard Natasha Vital comes into the tournament with 971 career points, 29 points shy of becoming the 21st player in Cal history to score 1,000 career points.
Alexis Gray-Lawson has 1,863 points, 137 shy of 2,000, giving her an outside chance of becoming the third player in Cal history to cross the 2000 point mark. Gray-Lawson was the 9th player in Cal history to cross the 1500 point threshold.
DOUBLE DOUBLES Freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth had her third double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. It was the 15th time this season a Cal player had double-digit rebounds in a game. Gennifer Brandon leads the team with five double-doubles, all of which have come in games in which she comes off the bench.
FRESH(MAN) LINEUP Cal has used seven different starting lineups this season. They have used three different mixes that feature four freshmen in the starting lineup and two different versions of the two seniors, three freshmen. Every single eligible Cal player but junior guard Rachelle Federico has started at least one game this season.
FRESHMAN REPORT CARD The Cal freshman have more than held their own in the Conference this season. DeNesha Stallworth is averaging 12.4 points per game. Only one other freshman, Davellyn White of Arizona (16.0 ppg) has scored more points this season. Stallworth is the top freshman in shooting efficiency, ranking sixth overall with a 49.1 field goal percentage. Stallworth is third among freshmen in blocked shots. She has 32 this season, ranking her ninth among all Pac-10 players. Freshman Carly Noyes of Washington State leads the Conference with 56.
Gennifer Brandon, who ranks seventh overall in rebounding in the Pac-10 this season, is the top freshman in rebounds per game. Markel Walker of UCLA is right behind her at 7.6 boards per game.
Freshman guard Eliza Pierre is third among Pac-10 freshmen in steals, averaging 2.0 per game.
POST SEASON On Monday, March 15, Cal will learn their post season fate. The NCAA Tournament's field of 64 teams will be announced live on ESPN at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. If the Bears make the NCAA Tournament, they will most likely be playing in Berkeley on Saturday, March 20 as Haas Pavilion is one of the 2010 NCAA Tournament First and Second Round host sites.
If the Bears fail to make the NCAA Tournament, they will learn later that evening if they have received an invitation to the WNIT (Women's National Invitation Tournament). The 64-team field for the WNIT consists of 31 automatic berths - one from each established conference - and 33 at-large teams. The intention of the WNIT Selection Committee is to select the 33 best available at-large teams in the nation, regardless of conference or geographical location. All games in the single-elimination format are played at the main or alternate facilities of participating schools. First round games will take place March 17-19.
Details of Cal's post season will be posted on CalBears.com as soon as the information is determined.
BOYLE & THE POST SEASON Cal head coach Joanne Boyle has a perfect record for post-season qualifying as a head coach. She took her Richmond Spiders to two WNIT tournaments (advancing to the semi-finals in 2003-04) and to the NCAA's in 2004-05. Her four previous Cal teams have all qualified for the NCAA's. Even as an assistant at Duke, Boyle's teams made it to the NCAA tournament every year but her first (1993-94), eight straight trips.