March 30, 2010
The California Golden Bears (22-13, 11-7 Pac-10) are one of the last four teams remaining in the 2010 Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament. They head out on the road, playing in the semifinals against the Illinois State Redbirds (28-7, 16-2 Missouri Valley) in Normal, Ill. on Thursday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time (7:00 p.m. local Central Time). Live streaming audio of the game will be available on CalBears.com. Free live streaming video of the game will be available through the Illinois State website.
If Cal wins, the WNIT Championship game will take place in Haas Pavilion on Saturday, April 3 at 11 a.m. against the Miami Hurricanes. This would mark the first time that a National Championship event has ever been held in Haas Pavilion. A final game at Haas would mark the first time in history that the Tournament championship has been played West of Wyoming.
If Cal loses, Miami will play at Illinois State on Saturday for the Championship.
The Bears advanced with a 76-50 victory over the BYU Cougars. The 26-point margin of victory was the largest for Cal since their 78-44 victory over Colorado State, another Mountain West Conference school, back in early December.
Cal has four players averaging double-figures during the WNIT. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson has come back strong after sitting out the opener against UC Davis. Gray-Lawson is averaging 20.0 ppg. She is shooting 52.9 percent from three-point range. She went 5-for-6 from long range on the road at Oregon.
Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon is averaging a double-double in the tournament. Brandon, who has not started a game, is averaging 10.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the last four contests. Brandon has nine games this season in which she has pulled in double digit rebounds.
Freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth is averaging 15.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. She is also shooting 60.5 percent from the field and 84.2 percent from the freethrow line. Stallworth has also added six blocks and five steals.
Freshman guard Layshia Clarendon is averaging 13.8 points per game in the tournament. She has yet to miss a freethrow (is a perfect 9-for-9) and has a team-high 19 assists to go along with the 55 points she has scored.
Cal has won ten of their last 13 games with two of the three losses coming against the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal.
Cal's victory over Utah on Tuesday was the 20th win of the season, the first time in program history the Bears have put together four consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins. The 2009-10 season also marked the fifth consecutive season that Cal has been involved in post-season play, another program-best streak.
This is the first time Cal has won four post-season games. Their previous best was the two victories that sent them to the NCAA Sweet-16 last season.
REBOUNDING The Bears are outrebounding their opponents this season on average by 6.9 boards per game. This is the third-best rebounding margin of any team in the 64 teams playing in the WNIT. The Bears had a +21 rebounding margin against UC Davis, +11 against Utah, +14 at Oregon and +22 against BYU. In total, the Bears have pulled in 68 more rebounds than their opponents during the WNIT (+17.0 per game)
Freshman forward Gennifer Brandon became the seventh Cal player in program history to pull in 20 or more rebounds during a game. Her 21 rebounds against Utah set a Haas Pavilion record for most rebounds by an individual in a game on that court. Brandon led the Bears in both Pac-10 Tourney games, getting 19 total boards in the tournament. Brandon was ranked 19th among players competing in the WNIT in rebounding. Chelsea Cole of Pitt leads the field with 11.3 rebounds per game.
SCORING MILESTONES Alexis Gray-Lawson has 1,942 points, 58 shy of 2,000, giving her an outside chance of becoming the third player in Cal history to cross the 2000 point mark. Gray-Lawson was the 9th player in Cal history to cross the 1500 point threshold. She is currently third on the career points list.
Alexis Gray-Lawson scored her 600th point of the season against BYU. Gray-Lawson has moved into the top-10 in the Cal record book for most points in a single season. She enters Thursday's game with 602, in fifth place on the list.
A LOOK AT ILLINOIS STATE The Illinois State Redbirds (28-7, 16-2 Missouri Valley) play in Normal, Ill., a town a little over two-hours drive southwest of Chicago.
The Redbirds had an impressive 15-game win streak through the heart of their season. It was snapped March 4 with a 60-57 loss at Creighton. ISU was the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but were upset in the Semifinals by Northern Iowa, 69-66, who went on to win the Tournament and earn the MVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. ISU earned the Conference's automatic berth in the WNIT.
The MVC sent three teams to the WNIT (ISU, Creighton, and Missouri State) and two to the WBI (Bradley, Wichita State) in addition to sending UNI to the NCAA Tournament. Only Illinois State remains alive in the post season.
Illinois State opened their season with a 61-55 victory over UCLA. They are 1-0 against Pac-10 teams this year. Cal has not faced a MVC school this season.
Illinois State and Cal have played one another twice, each with one victory. Their last meeting was Nov. 25, 1990 when the Redbirds earned a 81-61 victory in Normal. Cal won 78-71 in Berkeley on Dec. 15, 1987.