Jan. 27, 2007
TUCSON, Ariz. - No. 20 California swept the season series with Arizona for the first time in 15 years with an 84-64 victory over the Wildcats Saturday afternoon at the McKale Center. The Golden Bears improved to 16-5 overall (7-4 Pac-10), while the Wildcats fell to 7-16 (1-10) with their sixth straight setback. Cal defeated Arizona, 65-48, in Berkeley Dec. 30.
"I thought it was a great game for us coming on the road," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle. "We talked to the team about how Arizona is playing some of its best basketball. They haven't won, but in the last five games, they've only been down four or five points and played Stanford tough the other night. Our focus was to come in and make them take tough shots. Their guards are good at shooting the three and getting penetration. In the second half, in particular, our guards did a good job of that."
Sophomore forward/center Devanei Hampton, a Naismith Trophy candidate, led Cal with 24 points and nine rebounds, including 15 points in the second half. Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker, who was added to the Wade Trophy watch list this week, contributed 16 points and 11 boards for her seventh double-double this season and 15th of her career. Senior guard Keanna Levy, who had 11 second-half points, matched her career-high of 17 points set against Arizona earlier this season.
"Our posts are playing some of their best basketball right now, both Devanei and Ashley, and Rama (N'diaye) comes in and gives us good minutes," said Boyle. "We talked about the anchor that they have to have inside for us defensively. They bought into that and understand the presence they need to have for us on the offensive end. Credit to them. They're working hard getting touches and finishing. That's why our guards get what they get because our posts draw so much attention."
After Arizona grabbed an 8-4 lead on a three-point play from Amina Njonkou, Walker posted six straight points to ignite an 11-0 Cal run that gave the Bears a 15-8 lead with 14:13 remaining in the first half.
Freshman guard Natasha Vital sank a jumper in transition to give Cal its biggest lead of the half at 21-12. The Wildcats answered with an 8-3 stretch, capped by a rare four-point play by Jessica Arnold, to close to within 24-20.
Kelsey Burns sank one of the Wildcats' three three-pointers in the game to pull her team within 32-28 with 4:30 left in the opening half. However, Levy answered on the Bears' next possession with her second three-pointer. The Bears finished the half on an 8-4 spurt, including freshman guard Lauren Greif's second trey with six seconds to go, to send them into the locker room up 40-32.
Cal steadily built its lead throughout the second half with Hampton and Levy leading the way. Levy, who sank all seven of her free throw attempts in the game, converted two free throws to give the Bears their first 10-point lead and Walker followed with two free throws of her own to extend Cal's margin to 50-38 less than four minutes into the second half. With 14:32 on the clock, freshman forward/center Rama N'diaye scored on a short layup in the key off a pass by Levy to put the Bears up 13 at 54-41.
The Wildcats got as close as 56-46 at the 11:08 mark, but Hampton grabbed an offensive board and scored on a layin to jumpstart a 10-2 Cal run over the next three minutes, 48 seconds. The Bears claimed a 66-48 advantage following a baseline jumper from Greif.
Arizona couldn't get any closer than 14 points the rest of the game. A free throw by Greif gave Cal its first 20-point lead at 78-58 with 1:59 on the clock. Junior forward Krista Foster nailed a jumper to give the Bears an 82-62 edge, and Cal ended the game with 84 points for the most points it has scored in a Pac-10 game since a 90-87 overtime loss to UCLA Jan. 29, 2006.
Cal held a commanding 41-29 rebounding advantage and shot 51.8 percent from the floor. The Wildcats hit only 36.1 percent of their field goals and 28.6 percent in the second half.
After hitting a season-low 47.6 percent from the foul line against Arizona State Thursday, Cal responded by posting its second-best percentage of the year at 81.5 percent (22-27) at Arizona.
Arnold paced Arizona with 19 points, and Ashley Whisonant notched 11. The Bears held the Wildcats' leading scorer, Joy Hollingsworth (16.4 ppg), to only eight points after limiting her to five points in Berkeley last month. In two games against the Bears in 2006-07, Hollingsworth converted only 4-of-32 shots.
"In the first half, I felt (Hollingsworth) got a lot of penetration but was just missing baskets," said Boyle. "In the second half, I felt we did a much better job on her. That's a credit to the kids that were on her."
Cal steps out of conference play to host UC Riverside (12-8, 6-1 Big West) Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion, before traveling to Stanford Sunday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m.