Feb. 20, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. -
A LOOK AT THE GOLDEN BEARS
After reaching the 20-win milestone for the first time since the 1991-92 season, California (20-7, 10-6 Pac-10, T3rd) hosts USC (16-10, 10-6, T3rd) Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion and UCLA (13-15, 7-9, T6th) Saturday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. in the regular-season finale. Prior to Saturday's game, Cal will honor its three seniors - Keanna Levy, Emmelie Geraedts and Julia Numair.
This week's games are critical for deciding seeding for the Pac-10 Tournament, which will be staged March 2-5 at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Following a dramatic 67-61 double-overtime victory at Oregon State, Cal has tied the 1991-92 and 1981-82 teams for the second-best start in school history through 27 games. The 1983-84 Bears were 22-5 at this point in the season for the best start in the program's history.
Cal, which is receiving votes in both polls, is on track to set at least three school records this season - scoring defense (59.3 ppg), FG% defense (36.7%) and scoring margin (+8.3).
Sophomore center Devanei Hampton has been unstoppable, averaging 22.1 ppg and 10.7 rpg over the last seven games. Hampton led Cal at Oregon, matching her career high of 27 points and hauling in 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. She led the Bears in scoring for the seventh straight game with 17 points at Oregon State, giving the Bears the season sweep of their third opponent this year. She is second in the conference in scoring (18.4 ppg) in league games and first in boards (8.7 rpg), making her claim for Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.
Sophomore forward Ashley Walker leads the Bears in scoring (16.9 ppg, 5th Pac-10) and in rebounding (8.5 rpg, 2nd Pac-10) and has recorded double-digit points in 24-of-27 games this season.
Senior guard Levy and freshmen guards Lauren Greif and Natasha Vital round out Cal's starting lineup. The trio has had standout moments at various points in the season. Vital has had the tough job of starting the last 18 games at point guard after sophomore Alexis Gray-Lawson - the 2005-06 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year - suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Vital has responded by leading the team in assists (3.6 apg) and contributing 6.4 ppg and 2.9 rpg. In Pac-10 games, Vital is third in the league in assists at 4.88 apg.