Dec. 28, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Devanei Hampton is getting healthy at just the right time for No. 11 California.
The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, who has missed nine games this season after undergoing right knee surgery in November, had a season-high 12 points and eight rebounds to help the Bears beat Washington 66-40 in the conference opener for both teams.
Ashley Walker added 13 points and seven rebounds while Alexis Gray-Lawson had 12 points for California (10-2, 1-0), which is off to its best start since going 10-2 to begin the 1991-92 campaign. The Bears, who remained unbeaten at home this season, beat the Huskies for only the 11th time in 50 games.
Wearing a thick black brace on her right knee, Hampton got off to a slow start offensively, missing her first two shots from the floor while going 0-for-4 from the free-throw line. The Bears' junior center made two free throws with 10:56 left then sank a 13-foot jumper from above the key to cap a 15-0 run that put California ahead 23-15 midway through the first half.
Hampton later scored on consecutive trips down the court, including on a double-spin move past Huskies' center Andrea Plouffe under the basket, then followed her own miss with a putback that helped give the Bears a 39-19 halftime lead.
More importantly, Hampton's knee held up just fine. She played 19 minutes after being forced to sit out Cal's 74-41 win over Kansas on Dec. 21 after her injury flared up.
Hampton left the game with 5:14 remaining and wore a bag of ice on her knee while on the bench.
With Hampton and Walker controlling the inside, California had no problem winning its first conference opener since 2003-04. The Bears led by as many as 28 in the second half, outrebounded the Huskies and used a 36-14 edge in the paint.
Sara Mosiman had 12 points for Washington (5-8), which shot only 24.2 percent in the first half while losing for the third time in four games. The Huskies, who play at No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, stunned the then-No. 20 Bears, 79-76, a year ago in Berkeley but couldn't repeat the upset at Haas Pavilion and ended up with their most lopsided loss of the season.
Cal closes out 2008 as host of Washington State Sunday, Dec. 30, at 2 p.m.