Nov. 25, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
No. 16/17 California (4-0), which owns its highest-ever rankings in both the AP (16) and USA Today-ESPN Coaches' (17) polls, faces No. 14/14 Vanderbilt (5-0) in the championship game of the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament Saturday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. CT (noon PT) at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn. The Golden Bears advanced by defeating Belmont, 69-52, Friday, while the Commodores breezed by Florida Atlantic, 81-49, in the other opening-round contest.
Cal Looks to Equal Best Start in Program History
With a win over Vanderbilt, Cal will improve to 5-0 and will match the 1981-82 team for the best start in program history.
The all-time series between Cal and Vanderbilt is tied at 1-1. The last time the teams met was in the second round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, with Vanderbilt earning an 82-63 triumph March 20, 1993, in Nashville. Cal edged Vanderbilt, 72-70, in 1989-90 in Berkeley.
SEC/Last Ranked Wins
Vanderbilt is the second school from the Southeastern Conference that Cal will play this season. Last weekend, Cal cruised to an 88-60 win over Florida. The Commodores are the first ranked team the Bears will battle this season. In 2005-06, Cal defeated two ranked teams, posting a 66-64 home win over No. 15/13 Arizona State (AP/coaches) Jan. 19, 2006, and a 72-67 road win over No. 23/25 USC (AP/coaches) Jan. 27, 2006.
Bears Boast +19.5 Scoring Margin
Cal is averaging 75.0 ppg and holding its opponents to 55.5 ppg, which is on pace to break last year's school record for scoring defense (60.4 ppg). Saint Mary's has stayed the closest of Cal's four opponents this season, only losing by 15 points (71-56).
Walker Leads Trio of Double-Digit Scorers
Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker leads a trio of double-digit Cal scorers at 17.8 ppg after finishing third on the team in scoring at 13.3 ppg a year ago. Walker is the only Cal player to contribute at least 10 points in each game this year. Sophomore forward/center Devanei Hampton is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg, while sophomore guard Alexis Gray-Lawson is second at 10.8 ppg.
Shooting Improved All Over the Court
Cal's field goal, three-point field goal and free throw percentages have shown dramatic improvement early on over last season. The Bears' field goal percentage is 50.0 (43.6 in 2005-06), their three-point field goal percentage is 43.2 (32.4 in 2005-06), and their free throw accuracy is 72.5 (62.6 in 2005-06). Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker leads this year's team in FG percentage (63.2, 24-of-38), and junior forward Krista Foster tops the Bears from beyond the arc (60.0, 3-of-5) and at the foul line (100.0, 8-of-8). Freshman guards Lauren Greif (45.0, 9-of-20) and Natasha Vital (100.0, 2-of-2) have also proven to be accurate from three-point range. Walker, who has made the most trips to the foul line for Cal this season, boasts a stellar 82.1 free throw percentage (23-of-28).
Rebounding Continues to be Cal's Strength
Cal has outrebounded all four of its opponents in 2006-07 and has showcased an overall +7.9 rebounding margin (39.2-31.3). Sophomore forward/center Ashley Walker leads Cal in rebounding at 7.5 rpg, and three other players average at least five boards per contest. Last season, Cal held a rebounding edge in 19 of 30 games but owned only a +2.5 rebounding margin overall for the season.