Dec. 13, 2008
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Nyeshia Stevenson hit back-to-back 3-pointers and gave Oklahoma its first lead of the game with 3:43 to play, and the fifth-ranked Sooners made an improbable comeback from a 26-point halftime deficit to shock No. 9 California 86-75 on Saturday night in the Basketball By The Bay Classic.
Cal led by 17 points, 69-52, before Oklahoma (8-2) rallied by closing the game with a 34-6 run.
Stevenson finished with 21 points and Courtney Paris had 18 points and 13 rebounds to extend her consecutive streak of double-doubles dating to her freshman season to 102 in Oklahoma's third straight victory since a loss to top-ranked Connecticut on Nov. 30.
Ashley Walker scored in the paint and from the perimeter, finishing with 26 points and eight rebounds in the shocking collapse by Cal (8-2).
Alexis Gray-Lawson had 16 points and nine assists and Lauren Greif added a season-high 18 points for the Golden Bears, who dominated the first half of this highly anticipated showdown between the top-10 programs and all their ties but couldn't do enough right to hold off a late Oklahoma charge.
The Bears shot 64 percent and did everything right in the first half only to blow it over the final 20 minutes by shooting 28 percent and committing 11 of their 18 turnovers.
Cal started the game strong, hitting 8 of their first 12 field goal attempts. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson hit her first four field goall attempts, putting up 13 points early in the game. The Bears led 30-10 with just under eight minutes remaining in the half. Ashley Walker scored her 22nd point of the game on a freethrow with 3:05 left in the first half. At the time, the entire Oklahoma team had 22 points total.Walker had a pair of three pointers in her 22 points, her third and fourth of the season and just the fifth and sixth of her career. Cal led 52-26 at halftime. Their largest lead in the game was 26, which they held with 4:59 left in the first half.
"It was a game of two halves," said head coach Joanne Boyle. "Unfortunately, Oklahoma's half was the second half."
Oklahoma came out hot to start the half, going on a 10-0 run to quickly get back into the game. Cal's five turnovers in thre first four minutes also helped fuel the Sooner assault.
Danielle Robinson's three-point play with 6:22 left cut Cal's lead to 71-62 and single digits for the first time since the Bears led 11-4. Whitney Hand then hit a baseline 3-pointer with 4:57 to play to make it 71-67, Robinson hit a pair of free throws at 4:32 and Stevenson's steal in the backcourt and ensuing layin at 3:43 tied the game at 71. Cal coach Joanne Boyle quickly called timeout. Stevenson then hit consecutive 3s, two of her four from long distance.
The Bears pushed the pace and jumped to a 15-4 lead 5:01 into the game and Oklahoma started 5-for-21 and missed its first six 3-point tries before Jenny Vining hit at the 7:20 mark of the first half. Cal shot 11-for-16 to start the game and forced five turnovers before the midway point of the first half on the way to a 32-10 lead at the 8:43 mark.
Courtney Paris, who cut up her chin in the first half and wore a bandage on it the rest of the way, stayed out of foul trouble down the stretch after getting three in the first half. Ashley was held to seven points on 1-for-8 shooting after coming in averaging a team-leading 16.3 points per game.
Cal did not hit a field goal from the 9:00 minute mark until just under thirty seconds left in the game. Oklahoma outscored Cal 60-23 in the second half.
"Finishing is the thing we really wanted to improve on this season," said Boyle. "You have to have guard play at the end. Our guards are good. For whatever reason, tonight they played tentative at the end. We didn't do the easy things. We made everything so much harder on ourselves. We were looking to each other to make plays instead of playing together. What we did in the first half was to be agressive. In the second half, they were agressive. We were not."
Cal had won the only other two meetings with Oklahoma but this marked the first matchup between the schools since Nov. 28, 1987, when the Bears won 81-66 in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu.
Ashley Walker led the Bears in scoring and rebounding for the fifth straight game with 26 points and 8 rebounds. Lauren Greif scored 18 points, going 5-for-7 from three-point range. Alexis Gray-Lawson was an assist shy of her second double-doubel of the season with 16 points and nine assists.
Cal State Bakersfield beat host San Jose State 78-59 in Saturday's earlier Classic game.
The Bears have over a week off to regroup, with the team breaking for finals. They are back in action on Monday, Dec. 22 when they face another top-25 opponent, the Baylor Bears, at Haas Pavilion.