No. 9 Bears Bounce Back Over Bruins, 67-53
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/31/2008

Jan. 31, 2008

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BERKELEY, Calif.-- Junior forward/center Ashley Walker posted 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 9 California to a 67-53 victory over UCLA Thursday night at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears improved to 18-3 overall and remained in first place in the Pac-10 at 9-1 - the best start in school history through 21 overall games and 10 Pac-10 contests.

The win also marked the Bears' 13th straight at Haas Pavilion, dating back to last season.

Sophomore point guard Natasha Vital recorded 16 points, including 14 in the first half, matched her career high of seven rebounds and provided excellent leadership for the Bears throughout the game. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson added 12 points and four assists for the Bears.

UCLA (11-10, 6-4 Pac-10) led 7-6 with 16:15 to play behind five points from Erica Tukiainen. The Bears then went on a 14-4 run, which included a three-pointer from Vital, to go up 20-11 with 10:52 left.

The Bruins closed to within 20-15 before Walker converted her second three-point play after grabbing an offensive rebound and Gray-Lawson sank a three-pointer to give the Bears their biggest lead of the half at 26-15 at the 7:59 mark. Gray-Lawson's three-pointer began with Vital securing a rebound and passing the ball ahead to Walker. Walker, who registered her Pac-10-leading 10th double-double of the season and 30th of her career, juggled the ball but was able to heave the ball to a wide open Gray-Lawson beyond the three-point arc.

Doreena Campbell, who led UCLA with 10 points, capped a 10-2 Bruins' run with consecutive baskets, cutting Cal's lead to 28-25 with 5:01 left until halftime.

Cal finished the half on an 8-0 run, ignited by sophomore guard Lauren Greif scoring on a backdoor pass by sophomore forward/center Rama N'diaye.

UCLA ended its scoreless drought with a free throw by Tukiainen with 18:29 to go in the game. Gray-Lawson then sank her second three-pointer of the game and Walker rebounded her own miss and scored a layup to give Cal a 43-26 edge with 17:47 remaining in the game.

The Bruins knocked only two points off of the Bears' advantage before Hampton sank two free throws and found Walker open under the basket after some fancy dribbling. After Walker made the layup, Cal was up 19 at 55-36 with 12:10 to play.

Cal's lead fluctuated between 17 and 19 points for the next six minutes before UCLA made one last push for a comeback. Lindsey Pluimer, UCLA's leading scorer beginning the day at 14.7 ppg, hit a three-pointer to bring her team to within 10 at 63-53 with 3:20 on the clock, but Cal held the Bruins scoreless the remainder of the game. Cal's defense limited Pluimer to only seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor.

Led by Vital's 6-of-7 effort and Walker's 8-of-13 performance, Cal shot 47.3 percent from the field, and held UCLA to 32.4 percent. The Bears also made the most of their free throw opportunities, sinking 80 percent of their chances (12-of-15).

Cal returns to action against USC (13-8, 6-4 Pac-10) Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. Saturday is the Bears' second of four Kids' Days. All youth 12th grade and under will be admitted for $1. The first 500 youth will receive a free Cal autograph book.