Feb. 24, 2009
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Friday, Feb. 27, 7:00 p.m.: No. 4 Cal at USC, Los Angeles (Radio: KALX 90.7-FM, TV: none)
Sunday, Mar. 1, 12:00 p.m.: No. 4 Cal at UCLA, Los Angeles (Radio: KALX 90.7-FM, TV: FSN)
The California Golden Bears (22-3, 13-1 Pac-10) look to stay in a tie for the Pac-10 Conference lead as they head to Southern California, taking on the USC Trojans (14-11, 8-6 Pac-10) Friday, Feb. 27 at the Galen Center and the UCLA Bruins (16-9, 7-7 Pac-10) Sunday, Mar. 1 at Pauley Pavilion. Sunday's game has been picked up as a televised game by Fox Sports Net.
The Bears are coming off a week where they outscored their opponents by 62 points (144-82), outrebounded the Oregon schools by 29 (80-51) while shooting 52.5 percent from the field, including making 10 of 21 three-point attempts.
After becoming the all-time leading rebounder at Cal last week, all eyes will once again be watching senior forward Ashley Walker this week as she works towards becoming just the second player in Cal history and the 11th in Pac-10 history to score 2,000 career points. Walker enters the week at 1,977, leaving her 23 points shy of the benchmark. Senior center Devanei Hampton is also nearing a milestone. Hampton looks to become the eighth player in Cal history and the 40th in Pac-10 history to score 1,500 career points. Hampton enters the week with 1,483, 17 points shy of the mark.
Cal will try for its 23rd win of the season Friday at USC. The Bears have won 23 games in a season five times in program history. They have topped the 24-game mark only twice before, the 1983-84 season (24-8) and last year when they won a record 27 games (27-7). The Bears are in even more rarefied territory when it comes to conference victories. The 13 conference wins so far this season is second only to the 15 earned by the Bears in last season's campaign when they went 15-3.
The Bears, helped by losses by No. 3 Auburn and No. 5 Baylor, moved up two spots in this week's poll, moving back into the top-five. The Bears have spent five weeks in the top-five in the AP poll and six weeks in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll this season. The Bears had not cracked the top-five in any national poll prior to the 2008-09 season.
PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK Ashley Walker earned the Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the third time this season and the eighth time in her career this week. Former Stanford player Candice Wiggins (2005-08), a nine-time honoree, is the only player in Pac-10 history to earn the honor more times than Walker.
** In the month of February, Cal is holding opponents to an average of 44 points per game.
** The Bears have five games this season in which their opponent has scored 40 or fewer points.
** The Bears are 19-0 when holding their opponents to 55 or fewer points.
** Cal is now ranked sixth among all NCAA teams in scoring defense, allowing 52.4 points per game. Green Bay leads the nation with it 50.1 ppg average.
** Cal is allowing a mere 50.7 points in Pac-10 games.
** Cal is second in the Pac-10 and 22nd in the nation in field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting just 35.6 percent against Cal
OFFENSE The Bears have also risen in the national rankings in scoring margin, entering the top-10 in that stat for the first time this season with a 16.3 average. The Bears 45.1 team field-goal percentage ranks No. 17 among all Division I schools.
PAC-10/NATIONAL LEADERS Ashley Walker continues to leads the Pac-10 in scoring average. Her 20.3 ppg paces the conference and ranks her 13th among all DI players. Alysha Clark of Middle Tennessee leads the nation, averaging 26.1. She was the only Pac-10 player to be ranked in the top-100 in scoring average this week. Walker is third in the Pac-10 and 17th in the country in field-goal shooting percentage (56.1 percent).
THREE-POINTERS Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson was a perfect 4-for-4 last week in three point attempts. In her last five games, Gray-Lawson was 6-for-8 from three-point range and is now third in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting efficiency (41.0 percent). Junior guard Natasha Vital's ranks second in the conference at 43.2 percent.
Gray-Lawson moved into second place in the Cal record book for career three-pointers made. Gray-Lawson's make Feb. 21 against Oregon State gave her 126 career treys, inching her past Liz Rizzo (1994-97, 125) and into second place. She is 24 three-pointers shy of the career record. Gray-Lawson has hit 32 of them this season
ASSISTS The Bears had 38 assists in last week's games against the Oregon schools. Junior guard Lauren Greif dished a career-high six against OSU. Natasha Vital had six against Oregon and added three more against Oregon State, giving her nine for the week. Alexis Gray-Lawson, who ranks No. 41 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, had six assists with just one turnover in the two games. Freshman guard Casey Morris had five assists with no turnovers against Oregon.
MILESTONES Cal's starting five should soon have the distinction of having one member score her 2000th career point (Walker), another her 1500th career point (Hampton), one who has already scored her 1000th career point (Gray-Lawson, Nov. 29) and two who scored their 500th career points (Vital, Nov. 11 and Grief, Nov. 27) all in the same season.
DEV Devanei Hampton is averaging 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game since returning to the starting lineup. In Hampton's first nine games of the season, she averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. Hampton is sixth in the conference in rebounding in the Pac-10 games this season. Walker is third, averaging 8.2 rebounds per Pac-10 game.
MORE NOTES ON WALKER
** Walker has scored in double digits in each of the last nine games. There have only been three times this year Walker has been held to single-digit point totals
** Walker has led the team in scoring for the last night straight games and has been the team's leading rebounder in the last six games
** Walker has hit 10 or more field goals in a game six times this season.
** Walker has shot 50.0 percent or better in all but five games this season. She has a career-best 56.1 field-goal percentage this season, third-best in the Pac-10 and ranking her No. 17 in the country.
** Walker has 35 career games scoring 20 or more points. This season, she has topped 20 points 16 times and has done so nine times in Pac-10 play.
** Walker was a nominee for WBCA Player of the Month in December, a month in which she averaged 22.6 points per game and shot 61.4 percent from the floor.
** Walker was a nominee for WBCA Player of the Month in January, a month in which she averaged 18.1 points per game with 7.4 rebounds per game.
** Walker has started every game since her freshman year and has scored in every game since her freshman year. The closest she ever came to being shut put was in the Pac-10 finals last season against Stanford when she scored her first, and only, basket with 6:20 remaining in the game.
** Walker's name was added for the ninth and tenth times in the Cal record book in cumulative career stat categories when she became No. 10 in career steals with 159 and No. 10 in games played. She now ranks No. 5 in career games played with 121.
** Walker has been named a John R. Wooden Award midseason top-20 candidate.
HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICANS The incoming Bears freshman class of 2009-10 dominated the two high school All-American teams that were announced in the past few weeks with five of their recruits named to at least one of the two high school All-American teams. Forward DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) had the honor of making both teams. Playing in the WBCA All-American game April 4 in St. Louis will be guard Layshia Clarendon (San Bernadino, Calif.) and Stallworth. Players selected for the McDonald's All-American game on April 1 in Miami include forward Gennifer Brandon (Sylmar, Calif.), guard Eliza Pierre (Pasadena, Calif.), guard Tierra Rogers (San Francisco, Calif.) and Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.). Both All-American games are a national stage for the top female basketball prospects in the nation.
PAC-10 ALL-TIME SCORING: WALKER No. 12 Walker is currently in 12th place on the Pac-10 all-time scoring list. She needs 20 points to pass Arizona's Cherie Nelson (1987-89, 1,996 points) and move up to No. 11 on the list. Walker needs 86 points to move into the top-10 on the all-time scoring list. Walker became the 39th player to score 1,500 points as a member of the Pac-10 on Nov. 16 of this season.
PAC-10 ALL-TIME REBOUNDERS: NO. 6 Ashley Walker Walker entered the season ranked No. 21 on the Pac-10 career rebounding list. She moved up to No. 6 on the career list, passing Ebony Hoffman of USC (2001-04, 1,003) and Amber Hall of Washington (1996-99, 1,003). The No. 5 ranked player on the list, Val Whiting of Stanford (1989-93), has 1,134 career rebounds.
THIS WEEK'S PAC-10 OPPONENTS
SCOUTING USC The USC Trojans (14-11, 8-6 Pac-10) had a rough series the last time they played at the Galen Center, battling Arizona State to the end before falling 69-72 followed by an upset loss to the Arizona Wildcats, 61-74. The Wildcats shot over 60 percent from the floor, including shooting a white-hot 70 percent in the first half while the Trojans made just 29.3 percent of their shots in the game. The potent Trojan offense returned to form last week with a sweep at the Washington schools.
The Trojans are a team of shooters, leading the Pac-10 with an average of 6.7 made-threes per game. Their main three-point specialists are Ashley Corral, Brynn Cameron, and Heather Oliver, but with almost a third of their shots coming from long range, just about any player in uniform is a three-point threat.
The Trojan defense allows 68.6 points per game, the second highest total in the league.
The Trojans were one of only four teams to score more than 70 points against the Bears defense this season.
In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Devanei Hampton had a put back with two seconds left in regulation to keep the game from overtime and secure a victory for the Bears. Cal held a 13-point second half lead in the game, but the Trojans chipped away in the closing minutes to make it one of the closest games of the season for the Bears. Ashley Walker scored 21 points with 11 rebounds.
The Women of Troy lead the series 31-20, but Cal has won the last seven meetings. The past four games have been decided either in overtime or by five or fewer points, including Cal's 73-71 victory at Haas Pavilion last month.
STARTERS IN LAST GAME No. Name Pos. Ht. GP-GS ppg rpg apg spg 1 Camille LeNoir G 5-6 23-21 12.7 2.3 3.5 1.5 11 Brynn Cameron G 5-10 23-20 7.9 2.1 1.1 1.4 15 Briana Gilbreath G 6-1 23-23 11.5 5.6 1.8 1.9 21 Aarika Hughes F 6-2 23-18 4.7 5.8 1.7 1.0 44 Nadia Parker C 6-3 20-12 10.8 5.8 0.6 0.6
SCOUTING UCLA The UCLA Bruins are also trying to erase the memory of a stunning upset, theirs coming at the hands of Washington in Seattle last Friday in a game without their leading scorer, Doreena Campbell.
The Bruins have only won two of their last seven games, but have won four of their last five games at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins own a 12-2 record on the home court this season, the most wins a UCLA team has posted in Pauley Pavilion since the 1998-99 team went 13-3.
The Bruins are a strong rebounding team, ranked second in the Pac-10 and No. 8 in the nation in rebound margin, outrebounding their opponents by an average of 9.7 per game.
In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, the Bears trailed, 23-22, at the half, but opened up the second period on a 7-0 run. Ashley Walker's 17 points fueled the comeback with the Bears outscoring the Bruins 42-25 after halftime. Devanei Hampton had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Bears outrebounded the Bruins 36-26 in the game.
UCLA leads the all-time series 39-14 with Cal winning the last four meetings including a dramatic 73-70 overtime victory at Pauley Pavilion last season.
STARTERS IN LAST GAME Ht.,Yr. 08-09 GP/GS PPG RPG 11 F Atonye Nyingifa 5-11, Fr. 24 GP/9 GS 6.0 ppg 4.3 rpg 31 C Moniquee Alexander 6-6, Jr. 24 GP/7 GS 5.0 ppg 5.0 rpg 2 G Tierra Henderson 5-10, Sr. 18 GP/16 GS 6.4 ppg 4.2 rpg 10 G Allison Taka 5-8, Jr. 24 GP/1 GS 2.8 ppg 0.3 rpg 13 G Erica Tukiainen 6-0, Jr. 24 GP/23 GS 8.5 ppg 3.4 rpg