March 1, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
No. 9 California looks to claim the Golden Bears' first-ever Pac-10 title when it wraps up the regular season at Washington (12-17, 7-10, 6th Pac-10) Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Wash. Cal (24-4 overall, 15-2 Pac-10, T1st Pac-10) can win the title outright with a victory and a Stanford loss at Washington State or will be crowned co-champions if the Bears and Cardinal both win.
If Cal and Stanford both win its regular-season finale, the Cardinal will earn the No. 1 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament based on sweeping the season series with the Bears. Cal's best-ever finish in the Pac-10 was third in 2006-07, which also gave the Bears' their highest-ever seeding (third) in the Pac-10 Tournament. Cal also tied for third in 1991-92.
Cal is coming off a 61-47 victory over Washington State February 29, tying the 1983-84 Bears (24-8) for the most wins in a season. The Bears' 15 Pac-10 victories are three more than their previous best effort in the league, finishing the 1991-92 and 2006-07 seasons at 12-6.
Under the direction of third-year head coach Joanne Boyle, Cal has posted consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins for only the second time in school history.
Washington lost to Stanford, 73-53, on Friday after trailing by only two points at halftime. Cal defeated Washington, 66-40, in the Pac-10 opener Dec. 28, giving the Bears their largest margin of victory ever over the Huskies.
Defense and rebounding have been the foundation of Cal's success this season. Cal leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense (52.8 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (34.2%) and began the week in the top five in the nation in both categories. The Bears also top the conference in rebounding margin at +8.5 rpg, which stood seventh in the nation to start the week. Cal looks to break the Pac-10 record for scoring defense (54.7 ppg), set by Arizona State in 2004-05.
Cal relies on junior national player of the year candidates Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton. Walker leads Cal in scoring (16.0 ppg), rebounding (9.4 rpg), blocks (1.6 bpg), field goal percentage (51.5) and free throw percentage (77.1). Hampton is second on the team in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg) and led Cal with 16 points at Washington State.
Junior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson is third on Cal in scoring at 11.8 ppg and is second in the conference in three-point percentage (40.8). Gray-Lawson also tops the Bears in steals with 38.