Jan. 6, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) - California guard Natasha Vital knows the game plan: Go inside to the post players. When their shots aren't falling, step up.
Vital did just that Sunday, scoring 18 points, including two free throws in overtime, to lead No. 10 California to a 73-70 victory over UCLA.
"I get my shots in the flow of the offense," Vital said. "I'm looking for my post players first. ... I was feeling it."
With Cal's post players Ashley Walker and the reigning conference Player of the Year Devanei Hampton shooting a combined 12-for-30 from the field, the Bears sure needed sophomore Vital to step up. She scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half, but each of her points in the second half and overtime were perhaps more important.
Her steal and subsequent coast-to-coast layup gave Cal a 50-45 lead with 12:47 remaining in the second half.
Then, after Cal failed to score a field goal for the next 5:14, and the Bruins took their first lead, Vital made an outside shot to keep Cal close, 57-55.
"She's more experienced than our freshman guards," said Hampton, whose 16 points and eight rebounds were well below her 23-point, 12-rebound average against UCLA (7-8, 2-2). "She knew how to take over."
Hampton scored three of her 16 points in overtime for the Bears (13-2, 4-0 Pacific 10). She also stole the ball with 23 seconds to play and fed Vital, who was fouled and went to the line with Cal leading 71-70.
Alexis Gray-Lawson scored Cal's first three points of overtime and finished with 14. Walker had 15 points and 10 rebounds for her conference-leading ninth double-double this season.
California won for the fifth consecutive time and swept UCLA and USC in Los Angeles for the first time since the 2000-01 season. They beat USC 57-52 Friday despite a season-high 25 turnovers. On Sunday, they committed a season-low nine.
Sunday also was the third consecutive time the Bears went to overtime at Pauley Pavilion but the first time they won.
Vital and UCLA guard Darxia Morris collided, and Morris left the game with an injured right knee with 5:38 to play in the second half.
Morris is scheduled to have an MRI to determine the damage. Two years ago, she needed surgery to repair that knee's anterior cruciate ligament.
"Rex has done a great job," UCLA coach Kathy Olivier said of Morris, who had 14 points. "She has been very aggressive. She breaks down the defense. She has good energy."
Lindsey Pluimer scored 16 points for UCLA, which beat No. 2 Stanford on Friday.
Morris scored six points in a 10-0 run that gave UCLA its first lead, 55-50, with 9:41 left in the second half, and Doreena Campbell scored 10 points.
Walker's two free throws tied the score at 65 with 1:45 remaining in regulation.
Both teams had a chance to win in the last minute. Tierra Henderson missed a 3-pointer with 27 seconds to play for UCLA, and Hampton's inside jumper rolled off the right rim.
In overtime, Campbell missed a 3-point attempt with a second left.