BERKELEY – After Reshanda Gray scored 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead No. 19/16 California past UCLA 69-53 Sunday, California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb called the junior from Los Angeles one of the hardest working players in the Golden Bear program.
To the 2,060 in attendance at Haas Pavilion and the many more watching live on the Pac-12 Networks, it seemed like Gray could be the hardest working player in the entire Pac-12 conference. Her 32 points were one shy of her career-high of 33 set against Oregon earlier this season, and her 15 rebounds and two steals were both career-highs for the forward. One of the top post players in the country, Gray was 12-of-18 from the field and a stellar 8-of-9 from the free throw line to will the Golden Bears (14-5, 6-2 Pac-12) to the win after dropping a contest to USC Friday night.
The 15-point margin of victory over UCLA (10-11, 4-5 Pac-12) is the largest this season for the Bears against a Pac-12 opponent, and the Golden Bears seem to have found their groove at just the right time with No. 4 Stanford looming on the horizon with two games against the Cardinal in the next seven days.
Gray’s play wasn’t the only indicator that the Bears are hitting their stride. Brittany Boyd had another typical triple-threat night with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists while adding three steals. California as a team shot 20-of-24 from the free throw line – making it the third time in the past three weeks that the Bears set a Gottlieb-era free throw percentage record.
“The main key was how are we going to bounce back (from the USC loss),” Gray said after the game. “I think my team did a really great job of bouncing back. We fell apart in the last six minutes that game, so our main focus was to play hard for 40 minutes.”
Gray earned her seventh double-double of the season and 11th of her career. The 15 boards surpassed her previous high mark of 14 last set against UCLA on Feb. 9, 2012.
The two teams played a nearly even first half with both teams jockeying for position until the Bears took a seven-point lead into the break. Gray scored 17 points in the opening period, including a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line and a last second putback layup at the buzzer to send the Bears into the break with a 37-31 lead.
Gray opened the second half with the same intensity, scoring six of Cal’s first eight points of the half as Cal raced to a 10-point lead, 47-37. Once the lead hit double-digits, the Bruins would not get any closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
The Golden Bears pushed their lead to as many as 20 points in the second half with a 69-49 lead with 2:17 remaining before taking the 69-53 final.
California travels to Bay Area rival Stanford this Thursday for the first Battle of the Bay matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will air live on the Pac-12 Networks with Mary Murphy, Krista Blunk and Ros Gold-Onwude on the call .