Dec. 20, 2005
SEATTLE, Wash. - California opened the Pac-10 season with a hard-fought 62-55 loss to Washington Tuesday night at Bank of America Arena. The Golden Bears fall to 8-3 (0-1) after seeing their four-game winning streak snapped, while the Huskies improved to 8-2 (1-0).
"I think it was a rude awakening for Pac-10 play in terms of the aggressiveness and the level of play that will be in the Pac-10 versus what it was in the non-conference," said Cal head coach Joanne Boyle of her young team. "As much as we tried to tell them and prepare them, I don't think they understood that until they looked at the boxscore at the end of the game and saw that they got out-rebounded, 48-29."
Freshman guard Alexis Gray-Lawson led Cal with 21 points, six steals and five assists in 40 minutes of playing time, and freshman center Devanei Hampton notched 20 points and five rebounds in their first Pac-10 game. The former Oakland Tech stars shot a combined 17-of-28 from the floor.
"They're gamers,' said Boyle of her leading scorers. "They don't back down from anybody. I noticed that when we played Baylor and New Mexico State. It was obvious to me that they can play at this level early in their careers."
Cal led 10-7 with 14:48 left in the first half following a layup from freshman forward Ashley Walker off a pass from Gray-Lawson. The Huskies then went on a 16-2 run, to grab a 23-12 lead. Strong defense kept the Bears in the game, and Hampton kept drawing foul calls on the Huskies but was only 4-of-9 from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes and 4-of-11 overall. Cal forced UW into 17 first-half turnovers and committed 15 of its own. For the game, the Huskies had 27 miscues, and the Bears had 24.
Hampton sank two free throws and converted a layup - the Bears' first basket in about 11 minutes - to cut the deficit to 23-16 with 3:47 until the break. Gray-Lawson then posted six of her game-high 10 first-half points to propel the Bears on a 10-5 run to close the half, cutting the gap to 28-22.
With Washington up 34-26, Cal went on an 8-2 run, capped by four straight points from Hampton, to cut the deficit to 36-34 at the 14:38 mark, and the Bears had several opportunities to tie the game before the Huskies Kristen O'Neill hit an 18-foot jumper. O'Neill's second three-pointer of the game gave the Huskies a 43-38 edge with 9:20 left in the contest.
After the Huskies opened up a 48-42 advantage on a three-pointer from Cameo Hicks, Hampton stole the ball and took it the length of the court for a layup with 4:43 to go, but the Bears couldn't get any closer than four points the rest of the game. Washington, which didn't lead by more than eight points down the stretch, scored its final 11 points at the foul line, with senior Renee Wright, Walker and freshman guard Jene Morris fouling out.
Today's game marked the return of Cal freshman forward Shantrell Sneed, who missed the last four games with a knee sprain. Morris also was back in the Bears' lineup after sitting out the final non-conference game against South Carolina State with a back injury.
Washington held a commanding 48-29 rebounding advantage, including a 23-7 edge on the offensive glass. The Huskies began the week leading the conference in offensive boards at 19.5 per outing. Walker, who entered the game as the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots at 2.2 per game, paced the Bears with a career-high nine boards and two blocked shots.
"We probably spent 60 percent of the time on the defensive end of the floor," said Boyle. "We have a short bench. If you're going to play on the defensive end 60 percent of the time, you're going to wear yourself out. It was obvious at the end of the game we were exhausted. But, we didn't help ourselves by creating some easy transition buckets for us off of their long rebounds."
Cal converted 44.9 percent of its chances and held Washington to a 33.3 field goal clip.
Hicks led Washington with 16 points. O'Neill added 11 points off the bench, and Andrea Plouffe had 10 points and 10 boards.
Cal travels to Washington State (6-3, 0-1 Pac-10) Thursday, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m.