Jan. 16, 2010
The California Golden Bears women's basketball team earned a 75-68 victory over the Washington State Cougars at Haas Pavilion. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson scored a season-high 29 points to lead the Bears.
In the first half, Cal freshman center Brenna Heater broke an early 9-9 tie to put Cal up by a pair. The Bears built on the lead, extending it out to seven, 30-23, on a layup by senior guard Natasha Vital with 7:23 remaining in the half. Washington State took advantage of a four minute Cal scoreless span to go on a 5-0 run, cutting Cal's lead to two. A length of the floor pass to a wide open Rachelle Federico ended the drought, giving Cal a 32-28 lead. Washington State's Kiki Moore scored on a fastbreak with less than a minute remaining in the first half to help cut the deficit. The teams went into the locker room knotted at 35.
In the second half, WSU scored a quick basket to take a 37-35 lead. A 6-0 run put the Cougars up 47-41 when Cal, led by senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, came chagrining back. Gray-Lawson scored five straight points in the game to narrow the margin to one, 47-48. After freshman forward Gennifer Brandon battled for an offensive rebound and a put-back, Gray-Lawson drained two more baskets to give Cal a 54-52 lead. Brandon helped extend the lead by battling for another O-board and put back to extend the lead to four, 56-52.
Gray-Lawson and Washington State traded baskets, with Gray-Lawson scoring eight points for the Bears and WSU six to push Cal's lead to 64-58 with just over six minutes to go. After a Natasha Vital jumper gave Cal an eight point lead, Washington State went on a 7-0 run in the next three minutes to pull within a point, 66-65 with 3:14. It was as close as the Cougars would come. Freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth made a layup and Natasha Vital nailed a pair of late freethrows to give Cal a little breathing room. Cal's defense made a strong stand in the final two and a half minutes, holding Washington State to just one made field goal and one trip to the freethrow line to help Cal hold on for the 75-68 victory.
"I'm excited to get another win at home and start digging ourselves out of the hole," said head coach Joanne Boyle. "It wasn't always pretty, but it is great when your back is up against the wall and a young team figures out how to win a game."
Gray-Lawson was the difference for Cal in the second half. The senior guard scored 22 points in 19 minutes on the floor in the second half. It was the second time in two games she scored 15 or more points in the final period. Gray-Lawson ended the game with a season-high 29 points, the second-highest single game point total by a Bear this season.
"I was kind of mad at myself for getting two early fouls in the first half and letting my team down," said Gray-Lawson. "In the second half, my coaches told me to still be aggressive, even though I had two fouls, so that is what I did. I was making sure I took good shots and I wasn't trying to force anything."
Freshman guard Eliza Pierre set the tempo and led the Bears' pressure defense. Pierre had four steals and five assists to go with six points and five rebounds. Gennifer Brandon, also a key element to the press, came off the bench to score 12 points with seven rebounds in 19 minutes.
With the victory, the Bears pull to an even 8-8 on the season and 2-3 in Pac-10 play. The Cougars remain winless in Conference games, galling to 0-6 with a 5-12 overall record.
The Bears will be back on the road next week, heading up to Oregon for a pair of games. They open the trip on Thursday, Jan. 21 at Oregon. Tip time is at 7 p.m. They finish off on Saturday, Jan. 23 when they take on Oregon State in Corvallis at 7:00 p.m. Both games will have a live streaming audio broadcast available through CalBears.com