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No. 13/18 California Opens Season at Haas Sunday
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/10/2009

Nov. 10, 2009

BERKELEY -

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The No. 13/18 California Golden Bears open up the 2009-10 season with a three-game homestand. First up for the Bears will be the season-opener against the Idaho State Bengals followed by a Tuesday, Nov. 17 showdown against Contra Costa County's Saint Mary's Gaels. The homestand concludes on Sunday, Nov. 22 when the Bears host the No. 4/7 Baylor Bears.

The Bears are looking for their seventh consecutive victory in the home opener. Last season, Cal christened the 2008-09 season with a 63-39 victory over Albany. Cal hasn't dropped a home opener since the 2002-03 season when they fell 56-49 to Rutgers.

Since the 2003-04, Cal has only lost one non-Conference home games, going 34-1 against teams outside the Pac-10 while playing at Haas. There are several ticket promotions running for the game. There will be free Admission for all youth (12th grade and younger). Also, if you show your ticket stub from the Cal-Arizona football game, you will receive one free admission to the game. These promotions are good for the general admission seats. This season, Haas Pavilion will feature more reserved seats for women's basketball games with sections 1,2, and 3 as well as 15, 16, and 17 all being reserved seats.

Sunday's game will also feature a post game autograph session with the team.

It will be a different looking team this season in the blue and gold. Cal returns just five players, three of them members of the 2008-09 starting lineup. Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson averaged 12.2 points per game last season, earning her first team All-Pac-10 honors and an honorable mention for AP All-American honors. Senior guard Natasha Vital, one of the Pac-10's leading point guards, was an All-Pac-10 and Pac-10 All-Defensive team honorable mention each of the last two seasons. Senior guard Lauren Greif is the leading returning rebounder. She averaged 5.4 boards per game in 2008-09.

Senior center Rama N'diaye is questionable for the game as she is still rehabbing from an offseason procedure to repair a meniscus tear in her knee. N'diaye had missed most of last season after ACL surgery.

The starting forwards for the opener have yet to be determined. All of the freshman made a case for a starting spot in the Bears' lone exhibition game. In the 101-81 victory over Vanguard, Gennifer Brandon and Talia Caldwell got the start. Brandon scored 10 points with eight rebounds. Caldwell scored eight points, with a perfect night of shooting, going 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the freethrow line. Off the bench, DeNesha Stallworth went on an offensive tear, scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. She also had nine rebounds and two blocks. Brenna Heater cored nine points, hitting four of her five field goal attempts. Heater was a rebound magnet, pulling in 17 boards, including six on the offensive side.

Cal's bench scored 50 of the 101 points in the exhibition. The team outscored Vanguard 52-16 in the paint. The Bears also notched 14 putbacks in the game.

THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT The Idaho State Bengals women's basketball team (11-20, 7-9 Big Sky) was selected in the Big Sky media's preseason poll to recapture a four place finish as the team did last season while the coaches' poll voted for the Bengals to finish fifth in the regular season. In the 2008-09 season the Bengals tied for fourth place with Sacramento State, each recording a 7-9 conference record, even while competing with a reduced roster of eight players. This season the Bengals return six letterwinners as well as welcome ten promising newcomers.

Idaho State returns three seniors, including regular starters Oana Iacovita and Devin Diehl along with Andrea Videbeck who is returning from a redshirt season. Iacovita was Idaho State's second leading scorer and rebounder last season averaging 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. She was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Tournament team. Diehl was Idaho State's top off-ball defender and averaged six points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Both Iacovita and Diehl have played for the Bengals when they captured the 2007 Big Sky Tournament Championship to go on to the program's second NCAA tournament appearance. The Bengals also return junior Chelsea Pickering who was sidelined by an ACL tear midway through the season, just two games after a career-high performance where she led the Bengals with 31 points against Portland State. The 5-9 guard averaged 10.4 points per game, and 15 in conference play. She also recorded 3.6 rebounds per game.

Idaho State will open their season on Friday, Nov. 13 when they take on Saint Mary's in Moraga.

This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Cal has not played a Big Sky Conference school since the 2000-01 season when the Bears defeated Cal State Northridge, 75-63, in CSUN's final season as a member of the BSC.

Golden Bear Notes

PRESEASON RANKINGS The California Golden Bears are ranked No. 13 in the Preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Cal is ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press preseason poll. This is the fourth consecutive season Cal begins play as a top-25 team.California has been a steady presence in both major top-25 polls since the 2006-07 season. Cal returned to the polls in the 2007 preseason poll and has been listed in 54 of 57 AP polls and 57 of 58 USA Today/ESPN Coaches' polls since then. Cal has been a continuous presence in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll since Feb. 26, 2007 (week 16). Last season, Cal spent four weeks at a program-best No. 3 ranking. They finished the season ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll.

CAL PICKED SECOND IN PAC-10 The California women's basketball team was predicted to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the preseason coaches' poll and third in the media poll. This is second time since the poll's inception in 1998-99 that Cal has received such a high preseason ranking. Stanford, a 2008-09 Final Four team, earned eight of the nine first place votes to take first place in the poll. Arizona State was picked to finish third after advancing to the postseason in 2008-09 for the fifth straight season. Each of the last two seasons, the Bears have finished in second place in the conference with a school-record 15-3 record. The Pac-10 had three teams earn NCAA Tournament bids last year, the seventh consecutive year at least three league teams earned invites.

THREES Natasha Vital spent much of last season with a three-point shooting percentage hovering near 40 percent. Her final 38.1 percent ranked fifth in the Pac-10. Alexis Gray-Lawson enters the season ranked No. 2 on the Cal career three-point list. She has 150 treys in her career, nine behind Jennifer Self who made 159 from 1989-1992.

POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson is currently ranked No. 10 on the Cal career scoring list. She is 160 points shy of becoming the eighth player in Cal history to score 1,500 career points. Former teammates Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton each reached the 1,500 point mark last season. Walker became the first Cal player to score 1,500 points since 1992. She went on to pass the 2,000 career point mark later in the season.

ASSISTS Natasha Vital is currently ranked No. 5 on the Cal career assist list. She is three shy of overtaking Jackie Lear and moving into fourth place on the list. Alexis Gray-Lawson is 25 assists away from moving into the career top-10 list.

100 WINS Head Coach Joanne Boyle enters the season with a Cal career record of 95-35, five victories shy of her 100th Cal win. Gooch Foster, with 279 victories, is the only Cal coach in the history of the program with more than 100 victories.

THE CAPTAINS Lauren Greif, Natasha Vital, and Tierra Rogers will serve as Cal's captains this season.

SIGNING DAY Wednesday, Nov. 11 is the first day that high school seniors can officially sign their National Letter of Intent, officially deciding their college choices. Check out CalBears.com this week for details about Cal's incoming class for the 2010-11 season.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE The Golden Bears home court was the setting for a 33-game non-conference win streak. From the beginning of the 2003-04 season through Dec. 6, 2008, Cal did not lose a non-conference game played at Haas Pavilion. The 2008-09 season saw one of the biggest non-conference wins in the history of the program when the Bears knocked off the then-ranked No. 2 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66-52 in front of 4,458 fans. Last season was also the second time in two years that Haas was filled literally to the rafters with a crowd of over 10,000 fans. The 2008-09 Battle of the Bay game against Stanford had 10,126 fans on hand to witness the Bears' 57-54 victory over the Cardinal. In 2007-08, the game at Cal between the two nationally-ranked women's basketball powers was attended by a Haas Pavilion record 10,525 fans.

HS ALL-AMERICANS The incoming Bears of 2009-10 garnered 10 All-American honors last season. Forward DeNesha Stallworth was named to all three major All-American teams. She was a WBCA All-American, playing in their All-American game April 4 in St. Louis as well as a McDonald's All-American, playing April 1 in Miami in that game. She was also named a Parade Magazine fourth team All-American. Guard Layshia Clarendon was also played in the WBCA All-American game and was a Parade Magazine fourth team All-American. Guard Tierra Rogers was a second team Parade Magazine All-American and played in the McDonalds All-American game. Forward Gennifer Brandon and guard Eliza Pierre were also McDonalds All-Americans.

TEAM USA Three members of this year's team were invited to Team USA tryouts in Colorado Springs last spring. Natasha Vital, Alexis Gray-Lawson, and Layshia Clarendon were vying with the best players in the nation for a spot the national team's roster. Alexis Gray-Lawson made the squad that went to Belgrade, Serbia to compete at the 2009 World University Games. Gray-Lawson started three of the seven games for Team USA. She scored in all seven games, averaging over 20 minutes of playing time. She finished the tournament averaging 7.9 points per game with 4.3 rebound per contest, helping lead the USA team to a gold medal. Gray-Lawson also had nine assists and ten steals in her gold-medal performance. Layshia Clarendon made the Under-19 team that went to Bangkok, Thailand to compete at the FIBA World Championships where the United States won the gold medal. Clarendon played in eight of the nine games, averaging 4.5 points per game and 1.5 rebounds per game in 13.4 minutes of playing time per contest.

GRAY-LAWSON UNANIMOUS PRESEASON ALL-PAC-10 Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson was one of two unanimous selections for the 2009-10 Preseason All-Pac-10 team. The Pac-10 also released the 2009-10 Preseason Media Poll which predicts Cal will finish third in the conference this season. Gray-Lawson, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection at the end of 2008-09, was a unanimous selection by all 21 members of the media voting on the five-player preseason team. Gray-Lawson earned first team All-Pac-10 honors last season. The other members included Jayne Appel (Stanford, F/C, Sr.), Doreena Campbell (UCLA, G, Jr.), Ify Ibekwe (Arizona, F, Jr.), Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford, G, Jr.).

GRAY-LAWSON NAMED WOODEN AWARD PRESEASON TOP-30 Alexis Gray-Lawson has been announced as one of the 31 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, basketball's most prestigious honor. 31 student athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are announced preseason. In late December, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women's Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round during the NCAA Tournament.

GRAY-LAWSON NAMED TO STATE FARM WADE AWARD WATCH Alexis Gray-Lawson as been named to the 2009-10 preseason Wade Watch list for The State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year. The 25-member list is made up of top NCAA Division I student-athletes who best embody the spirit of Lily Margaret Wade according to the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability. The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 33rd year and named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade, debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women's national player of the year award in college basketball. This highly prestigious award, regarded as the Heisman of Women's Basketball, is organized by the WBCA, in conjunction with the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS). The 2010 State Farm Wade Trophy winner will be announced at the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four, in San Antonio, Texas, April 2-6.


Cal Bears Women's Basketball


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