Nov. 29, 2008
St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. - The California Golden Bears won the Paradise Jam Reef Division tournament title with a 76-43 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday night at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. Senior forward Ashley Walker scored 32 points, tying her career high, en route to being named tournament MVP. Junior guards Lauren Greif and Alexis Gray-Lawson were also named to the All-Tournament team.
Iowa started the game strong, jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead. Cal senior forward Ashley Walker found her stroke, scoring 11 straight points for the Bears to give them a 13-8 lead. The Bears built on Walker's foundation, extending their run to 24-2 to take a 26-10 lead. Once again, it was the Bear defense fuelling the offense. Iowa shot just 26.7% in the first half with the two teams retiring to the locker rooms with Cal leading by 20, 40-20. Walker accounted for 20 of those first half Cal points.
The most important basket of the half came at the 1:26 mark when junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson drove through the lane to lay in the ball, scoring two points for her team and becoming the twentieth member of Cal's 1,000 point club. The St. Thomas crowd gave Gray-Lawson a rousing ovation when the accomplishment was announced.
Cal cruised through the second half, outscoring Iowa 36-23 to earn the decisive 76-43 victory.
"We took care of business. I am very proud of the kids," said Head Coach Joanne Boyle. "We flew over 3,000 miles, played three games in three days. We got to play a lot of our players. I think that will help us down the road. Ashley Walker was huge tonight, but I think everyone contributed. I think they brought what they needed to bring each day so we could come out of this tournament with three wins."
Cal forced 16 turnovers, scoring 24 points of the miscues. Cal only turned the bal over 8 times, the second time this season they had single-digit turnovers in a game.
"We definitely took care of the ball tonight," said Boyle. "They played us some zone tonight. I thought we did some really good stuff out of the triangle offense. We got some really good looks. We got a lot of one on one touches, which is good, and we got to push the ball a little bit in transition. I think the kids are getting a better feel for how important it is to create opportunities to score. Taking care of the ball is a great way to do that."
Walker, the Paradise Jam Tournament MVP, had the fourth 30-point game of her career, and her second straight, scoring 32 points, tying her career high. She averaged 22.0 points per game in the tournament, scoring 68 points with 18 rebounds.
Gray-Lawson ended the game with 10 points. She scored 37 points in the tournament 16 rebounds and was named to the All-Paradise Jam Tournament Team. Junior guard Lauren Greif also earned All-Paradise Jam Tournament honors. She finished the tournament with 23 points and 21 rebounds. South Florida's Shantia Grace, Texas Tech's Dominic Seals, and Iowa's Wendy Ausdemore rounded out the All-Paradise Jam Tournament Team from the Reef Division.
The victory gives the Bears a 6-0 start to the season for the first time in their history. Their previous best start was a 5-0 mark by the 1981-82 squad.
The Bears host the Colliers International Tournament this coming weekend, Dec. 6-7, at Haas Pavillion. Cal opens the tournament by taking on Princeton Saturday. They take on either TCU or St. Louis on Sunday.