March 10, 2011
LOS ANGELES -
The No. 6 seed California Golden Bears advanced to the semifinals of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament by holding onto a 48-43 victory over the No. 3 seed Arizona State Sun Devils. Layshia Clarendon led the Bears with 22 points.
The Bears started the game in a 7-2 hole. They twice pulled within a point, first on a floater from sophomore guard Layshia Clarendon to make it a 12-11 game. Sophomore forward DeNesha Stallworth had a steal to give Cal the chance to go up, but the Bears could not capitalize on the possession. Freshman guard Afure Jemerigbe pulled the Bears within a point again at 14-13. Two possessions later, she pushed Cal out into the lead 15-14, after shaking a defender and hitting a wide open jump shot. A pair of Cal steals set up layups from sophomore center Talia Caldwell and Stallworth to give Cal a 19-14 lead with just under eight minutes left in the half. Cal held a 25-23 lead with just under a minute left in the half. Sophomore guard Eliza Pierre grabbed her second steal of the period to give Cal the ball with 31 seconds before halftime. Clarendon pulled up for a jumper just in front of the free throw line to give Cal a 27-23 lead at the break.
Cal opened the second half with a high-low feed to Stallworth to extend the lead to 29-23. After strong defense on the other end, Clarendon gave Cal an eight point lead, 31-25, on a fade away jumper with just over 17 minutes to play. The Sun Devils cut it to two, 31-29 with 15 minutes to play. After a nearly three minutes scoring drought for both teams, Clarendon went to the rim to put Cal up 33-29 with just over 12 minutes to play.
Clarendon drained a long two with 4:22 remaining to put Cal up 44-37. The Cal defense kept the Sun Devils from scoring a basket for over five minutes, until a layup at the four minute mark broke the drought and made it a 44-39 game.
The Bears took the same score and five-point lead into the final two minutes. ASU's Becca Tobin hit a jumper with 1:45 left in the game to make it 44-41. After a Cal turnover, the Sun Devils had the ball back with 1:23 remaining. Stallworth blocked one shot attempt by ASU, but the ball was rebounded by a Sun Devil player with 6 seconds on the shot clock and 60 on the game clock. The Sun Devils got off a shot right before the shot clock expired. ASU came up with the offensive rebound and then were fouled on the put back attempt. The Devils made both free throws to pull within one, 44-43. After an ASU foul, Clarendon went to the free throw line for a one-and-one with 32 seconds left on the clock, hitting both to give Cal a 46-43 lead. Tenaya Watson took a shot with 13.7 seconds and missed. Clarendon came up with the rebound and was immediately fouled, sending her to the stripe for another one-and-one. She made both to put Cal up 48-43. Stallworth got a steal on the subsequent possession was immediately fouled, sending her to the line with 6.5 seconds. She missed her free throw, with the rebound going to ASU. They failed to get a shot off and Cal held on for the 48-43 victory.
Layshia Clarendon led the team with 22 points. It was the second time this season she scored 20 or more points against Arizona State. Talia Caldwell had nine points with nine rebounds. Afure Jemerigbe, who started the game going 3-for-3 from the field, scored eight points.
This was the third time in the last five years that Cal defeated Arizona State in the Pac-10 Tournament.
"I am just really excited that we are in the semifinal of the Pac-10 Tournament," said head coach Joanne Boyle. "I think the kids have worked really hard these last few days. They really came in focused and really came in understanding the game plan against Arizona State, great team. It was just a battle down the stretch with everything. I am just really proud with how they ended the game, played the game, but really ended the game. We tend to have really exciting endings with Arizona State."
The victory sends Cal into the semifinals of the tournament for the fifth straight year. The Bears will take on the number two seed UCLA Bruins on Friday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Net and locally on Comcast Bay Area.