Feb. 24, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Looking to improve on its best season in 13 years and keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, California (17-10, 9-8 Pac-10, 6th) hosts Washington (18-8, 11-6, T3rd) in the regular-season finale Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. on Fox Sports Net. Jim Watson (play-by-play) and Mary Murphy (analyst) are the broadcasters. The Bears are coming off a 61-51 triumph over Washington State Thursday, while the Huskies lost to Stanford, 100-69.
Prior to the Washington game, Cal will honor its only senior - forward Reneé Wright (Antelope, Calif.). The Huskies own 11 consecutive wins over the Bears, including a 66-55 decision in the Pac-10 opener Dec. 20, 2005. Cal is locked in to be the No. 6 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament, but its opening-round opponent (the No. 3 seed) won't be decided until after Saturday's action, as UW, UCLA and USC are tied for third in the Pac-10 at 11-6.
Cal is guaranteed to post its first winning record since the 1992-93 Bears finished 19-10 overall and tied for fourth in the Pac-10 at 10-8. That year, the Bears earned their last postseason selection, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
If Cal sweeps this week's games, a strong showing in the Pac-10 Tournament March 3-6 may be enough to earn the Bears an at-large berth to the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The last NCAA RPI lists Cal at No. 66. Cal ranks second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense (59.1 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (37.1%), which puts the Bears on pace to break both school records. Freshman forward/center Ashley Walker (Modesto, Calif.), who celebrated her 19th birthday Feb. 24, continues to lead the conference in total blocks (48) and blocks per game (1.78), while freshman guard Jené Morris (San Francisco) is third in the Pac-10 in steals (2.28).
Cal showcases four freshmen and Wright (6.7 ppg) in its starting lineup, and may be the only team in the country to currently start four freshmen. Walker (12.9 ppg) and Morris (8.4 ppg) join Devanei Hampton (center from Oakland, Calif.) and Alexis Gray-Lawson (guard from Oakland). Hampton leads Cal in scoring (15.1 ppg, 7th Pac-10) and Gray-Lawson is second (14.5 ppg, 10th Pac-10).
Hampton (7.8 rpg), Walker (7.7 rpg) and Wright (6.7 rpg) rank third, fourth and 10th, respectively, in the Pac-10 in rebounding. The Bears are the only school in the Pac-10 to have three athletes among the top 10 in that category.
Junior guard Sarah Pool (Central Point, Ore.), sophomore Krista Foster (Fair Oaks, Calif.) and freshman forward Shantrell Sneed (Fairfield, Calif.) provide a spark off the Bears' bench and were instrumental in the team's 73-56 win over Arizona last week. Foster matched her career highs of 13 points and seven rebounds. Sneed added a career-high nine points, and Pool recorded three points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.