Nov. 27, 2008
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands -
The No. 3 California Golden Bears defeated the South Florida Bulls 85-55 Thursday night in the first round of the Paradise Jam Tournament at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. Junior guard Natasha Vital set a new career-high for points, scoring a game-high 22 points.
"I think our team really took to heart and transitioned from the Rutgers game to this game, doing all the little things well," said head coach Joanne Boyle. "We really took care of the ball. We only had 13 turnovers against that press, We did a great job, for the most part, of boxing out and only letting them get one shot. We really pushed the ball and executed well in transition. I think everyone just did a good job of doing their job and not trying to do too much. This was a total team effort."
The Bears defense stymied the Bulls normally potent offense. South Florida entered the tournament averaging 98.5 points per game with scoring no less than 94 points in their first four games of the season. Cal's defense allowed just six field goals in the first 15 minutes of play. The Bulls went a span of over six minutes in the half without hitting a field goal. They finished the game shooting just 28.6% overall from the field and 21.1% (4-19) from three-point range.
On the other end of the court, the Bear offense went on a 21-4 run in the first half to put the game squarely in Cal's favor. Natasha Vital went 3-4 in the first half from three-point range. She ended the half with 13 points. Vital added three more treys in the second half to score a career-high 22 points. Kelsey Adrian's shooting rhythm also seemed to be back as she scored 12 points. Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson moved closer to the 1,000 point mark, putting up 8. She needs 23 more points to become the 20th player in Cal history to score 1,000 points as a Bear. Junior guard Lauren Greif posted her first career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. The 15 points also put her at the 500 career point mark.
One of the biggest stories of the night for the Bears was the return of senior center Devanei Hampton. Hampton subbed into the game at the 13:08 mark of the second half, seeing her first playing time of the season. She promptly swiped away the first shot to come her direction and scored on the offensive end less than a minute later. Hampton's playing time was limited, not due to her injury, but due to first half foul trouble. Hampton still scored 9 points with 6 rebounds in ten minutes.
The Bears play the second game of the Paradise Jam Tournament Friday night, Nov. 28, when they take on Texas Tech at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 p.m. local time). Texas Tech fell to Iowa in their first round game 56-48.