Nov. 20, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
Off to a 3-0 start after beating two consecutive 2007 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, No. 12/14 California travels to Texas for Thanksgiving Weekend. The Golden Bears visit TCU (2-2) Friday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m. CT and No. 13/12 Baylor (4-0) Sunday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. CT.
Admission is free next week to all four games at Haas Pavilion. Two tip-offs have been changed - Nov. 28 (11:30 a.m.) and Nov. 30 (4:30 p.m.).
Cal defeated UC Riverside (the 2006-07 Big West champion), 65-49, and New Mexico, 52-44, after trailing by six points late in the second half to remain undefeated. Rebounding and defense have been important to the Bears' success this season as it was last year. Cal has outrebounded all three of its opponents so far to establish a +5.7 rebounding margin (3rd Pac-10) after owning a +5.5 rebounding margin year ago.
On the heels of setting a school record for scoring defense in 2006-07 at 60.1 ppg, this year's Bears are holding their opponents to 57.3 ppg. While Cal is sixth in the conference in scoring at 66.7 ppg, the Bears top the Pac-10 in field goal percentage at 46.4 percent, which is a slight improvement over last year's 46.1 output.
Junior forward/center Ashley Walker is a focal point of the team. The CSTV.com preseason All-American leads Cal in scoring (22.3 ppg, 2nd Pac-10) and rebounding (15.3 ppg, 1st Pac-10) and is converting 62.5 percent of her field goal attempts. Walker, who topped the Pac-10 with 12 double-doubles in 2006-07, leads the league with three double-doubles.
Walker has had to play an even bigger role in Cal's post game, as junior Devanei Hampton - a State Farm/Wade and Wooden awards candidate - recovers from Nov. 9 knee surgery. Hampton, the 2006-07 Pac-10 Player of the Year, is expected to miss four to six weeks of action.
Sophomore Rama N'diaye has received the starting nod at center the last two games and contributed career highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds in the win over UC Riverside.
Redshirt sophomore guard Alexis Gray-Lawson is finding her stride after missing 23 games last season due to an ACL injury. Gray-Lawson is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg and has been instrumental in Cal's come-back wins over Fresno State and New Mexico this year. Against the Lobos, the Oakland, Calif., product posted 10 of her 11 points with under seven minutes to play. Gray-Lawson has also earned another year of eligibility after playing less than the NCAA limit of games to redshirt 06-07.