Feb. 16, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- With California losing, Ashley Walker wasn't about to panic. She just took over.
The 6-foot-1 junior scored 24 points and No. 9 California won its 16th straight home game with a 66-45 victory over Arizona on Saturday.
Walker had 12 points during a 21-6 run over the final 7:30 of the first half as the Bears overcame an early seven-point deficit to win their sixth straight game. They remained in first place in the Pac-10, one-game ahead of No. 6 Stanford. The two rivals will meet next weekend at Haas Pavilion.
"We know it's a game of possessions and we were going to make a run," said Walker, who leads Cal with 15.6 points and 9.4 rebounds. "I just had to get down court and fight a little."
Hampton recorded her third straight double-double, sixth of the season and 23rd of her career as Cal moved within one victory of a school-record 24 wins set in 1983-84.
"We did a pretty good job for 15 minutes but then Ashley Walker took over," Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said. "When we focused on her the second half then Devanei (Hampton) took over. Those are two great players."
The last times the teams met, Walker and Hampton scored just 10 points apiece and starting guards Alexis Gray-Lawson and Vital combined for 28.
"With Cal you just have to pick your poison," Bonvicini said. "Their definitely deserving of their national ranking. Plus they're playing with a lot of confidence."
Amina Njonkou and Rheya Neabors had 10 points apiece for Arizona (9-16, 3-11), which lost for the 12th time in 15 starts. The Wildcats, down to just eight players including two walk-ons, made 28 percent from the floor (18 of 63) against the nation's sixth best scoring defense.
Cal coach Joanne Boyle said her team was not looking past Arizona and eye-balling Stanford, which pasted the visiting Bears 72-52 on Jan. 26.
"This team is completely focused," Boyle said. "We haven't even talked about Stanford. I haven't even watched any film on them."
Hampton gave Cal its first lead 15-14 with 6:42 left in the half with a turnaround jumper. Walker then took over with a variety of interior spin moves and an assortment of shots.
She finished the half with four straight baskets, the last on a driving lay-up with 30.4 seconds left to give her team a 32-20 halftime edge.
Walker made 12 of 16 shots and added nine rebounds. Most of her buckets were on crisp feeds from Vital, a 5-8 sophomore who used to play regularly against Walker in high school.
"She's an amazing passer and really knows how to run the floor," Walker said of Vital. "If any of us are open, we're getting the ball in just the right spot."
Vital had just two turnovers and the Bears finished with 24 assists to 10 turnovers.
"It's pretty easy getting assists when you have players like Ashley and Devanei down low," Vital said.
The victory completed a series sweep over both Arizona and Arizona State, a first for the Cal program.