Jan. 4, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Before every game, California junior forward Devanei Hampton sits on the opponent's bench and prays for the safety of all the players who will take the basketball court that night.
Although she said she doesn't mention herself by name, she likely figures prominently in her prayers, since she has had right-knee surgery three times, most recently Nov. 9 to repair torn cartilage.
Her prayers seeming are being answered.
In just her fifth appearance this season -- and her first start -- she notched season-highs Friday with 21 points and 13 rebounds, helping the No. 10 Bears overcome a poor shooting night and defeat a pesky Southern California squad, 57-52.
The Bears (12-2, 3-0 Pacific-10) shot 40 percent from the floor (22 of 55), 28 percent from the 3-point line (5 of 18) and 50 percent from the free-throw line (8 of 16) -- their lowest percentages in a win this season.
They also committed a season-high 25 turnovers and never led by more than nine points.
But Hampton made 8 of 14 shots from the field and made key plays in the final minutes.
She assisted on Ashley Walker's lone second-half basket to put Cal up 48-44 with 5 minutes, 14 seconds to play.
With 1:26 remaining and USC (8-6, 1-2) down 54-50, Hampton grabbed an offensive rebound and fed it to Lauren Greif, who was fouled and made one free throw.
Walker finished with 12 points on 6-for-12 shooting and 13 rebounds.
In fact, take away Walker and Hampton's combined 14 of 26 shooting and 26 rebounds, the Bears went 8 of 29 (27.5 percent) from the field and took 24 rebounds, compared to USC's 30.
"Those two kids are tough," said USC coach Mark Trakh said. "They're a load. They rebound and they're strong." So strong, in fact, that USC post player Morghan Medlock said she had sore shoulders after banging around the boards with Hampton and Walker.
Medlock nonetheless had enough muscle to score 13 points, the only USC player to score in double figures.
Cal coach Joanne Boyle was displeased that Hampton had to play 29 minutes. Turnovers were a reason.
"I ripped the team," Boyle said. "Twenty-five turnovers ... they were out making excuses ... It feels good to get out of here with a win, but this is a game we had better learn from, and quick."
The Women of Troy had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds after Lauren Greif's turnover under USC's basket with 22.5 seconds to play. But Heather Oliver missed a layup, and Nadia Parker and Medlock missed two-point jumpers. Cal's Alexis Gray-Lawson took a rebound, and Greif made a layup with one second to play.
----------------- Looking ahead...here's a rundown of what's in store for the Cal women's basketball team's homestand next week.
Jan. 10 vs. Oregon - 7:30 p.m. (moved from 8 p.m. recently)
Jan. 12 vs. OSU - 2 p.m.
* Cal Kids Day - $1 YOUTH TICKETS (12th grade and younger) Activities start 90 minutes before tip off (face painting, poster making, contests, etc.).
* The first 500 kids will receive an official Cal women's basketball drawstring bag.
* The first 2,000 fans will receive the second set of Cal women's basketball trading cards.
* To find out more about Cal Kids Days, log onto the Cal women's basketball Web site or call 510-642-4780.