March 15, 2010
The California Golden Bears women's basketball team will be playing in the post season for the fifth straight year, earning an at-large bid to the WNIT. They will open play on Wednesday, March 17, hosting the UC Davis Aggies at Haas Pavilion at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for the game will go on sale Tuesday March 16th at 9 am over the phone, online or at the Athletic Ticket Office window. All seats will be general admission and the prices are: Adults - $12; Youth/Senior/Student - $7; Group (10+) - $3. The California Golden Bears (18-13, 11-7 Pac-10) have earned an at-large bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Bears will play the opening round of the 64-team tournament on Wednesday, March 17 at Haas Pavilion, taking on the UC Davis Aggies (21-10, 10-4 Big West) . Tip off is at 7:00 p.m.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to the second round where they will play the winner of Saint Mary's and Utah. Since Utah and Saint Mary's play their first round game on Sunday, March 21, the second round game won't be played any earlier than March 23.
The 64-team field for the WNIT consists of 31 automatic berths - one from each established conference - and 33 at-large teams. The intention of the WNIT Selection Committee is to select the 33 best available at-large teams in the nation, regardless of conference or geographical location. All games in the single-elimination format are played at the main or alternate facilities of participating schools.
Cal is one of three Pac-10 teams to earn a trip to the WNIT. Cal, Oregon and Arizona State each earned one of the 33 at-large bids to the tournament. Arizona State hosts New Mexico State in Tempe on Wednesday. Oregon hosts Eastern Washington on Thursday in Eugene. Cal and Oregon have the potential to meet in the third round and Cal could face ASU in the quarterfinals.
This is the fifth overall trip to the postseason WNIT for the Bears, but the first in the modern history of the Tournament (since 1998). It is Coach Joanne Boyle's third WNIT appearance. Boyle took two of her Richmond Spider teams to the tournament, advancing to the semifinals in 2004. The WNIT berth continues Boyle's perfect record for post-season qualifying as a head coach. In addition to Richmond's two WNIT appearances, her 2005 Spiders made it to the NCAA Tournament. Her four previous Cal teams have all qualified for the NCAA's. Even as an assistant at Duke, Boyle's teams made it to the NCAA tournament every year but her first (1993-94), eight straight trips.
Cal's first round opponent, the UC Davis Aggies, lost to UC Riverside in the championship game of the Big West Tournament last week after going in as the top seed. UC Davis finished the season with a 21-10 record. Cal and UC Davis have played one another eight times, with UCD winning the first six meetings and Cal taking the last two. The last meeting between the two teams was during the 2005-06 season with Cal earning a 67-58 victory at Haas Pavilion.
INJURY UPDATE Senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson is listed as day-to-day in determining whether she will be able to play in Wednesday's game. Gray-Lawson took a hard fall to the floor in the Pac-10 semifinal game against Stanford, having to be carted off the floor on a backboard and gurney. She was examined at a downtown Los Angeles hospital and was released after CT scans of her head and neck came back normal. She is suffering from neck strain from the fall but could be back on the court on Wednesday.
REBOUNDING The Bears are outrebounding their opponents on average by 5.5 boards per game. This is the fifth-best rebounding margin of any team in the 64 teams playing in the WNIT. Saint Mary's, a potential second round opponent, also has a +5.5 rebounding margin and is just percentage points behind Cal. The Bears have had 13 games this season when they outrebounded their opponents by ten or more. In five of the last seven games, at least one Cal player has pulled in double-digit rebounds.
Gennifer Brandon led the Bears in both Pac-10 Tourney games, getting 19 total boards in the tournament. Brandon is ranked 19th among players competing in the WNIT in rebounding (7.8 per game). Chelsea Cole of Pitt leads the field with 11.3 rebounds per game.
PAC-10 SCORING RACE Alexis Gray-Lawson has slipped to third in the battle for the Pac-10 Scoring Title. Gray-Lawson is averaging 17.5 points per game while Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike is at 18.3. Oregon's Taylor Lilley is now in second at 17.6 ppg. The scoring race will continue on through the post-season.
If Gray-Lawson should win the title, it will be the second consecutive year a Cal player has led the Conference in scoring. Ashley Walker ended the 2008-09 season with a Pac-10-best 18.9 points per game. Walker was the third Bear to win a Pac-10 scoring title. Jennifer Bennett, with a 23.7 points per game average, was the first ever Pac-10 scoring champ for women's basketball in 1986-87, the first season the Conference sponsored women's basketball. Trisha Stafford also led the league in scoring in 1991-92 with a 22.3 ppg average.
It would also be the second time in Gray-Lawson's career that she ended the year leading the Conference in a statistical category. She finished the 2007-08 season with a 40.0 three-point shooting percentage, tops in the Pac-10.
MORE POINTS ABOUT POINTS Alexis Gray-Lawson is 14th among all WNIT participants in points per game (17.5). Elena Delle Donne, who is second in the nation in scoring, leads the WNIT players with a 26.8 average.
DOUBLE DOUBLES Freshman forward DeNesha Stallworth had her third double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds in the Pac-10 regular-season finale against Stanford. It was the 15th time this season a Cal player had double-digit rebounds in a game. Gennifer Brandon leads the team with five double-doubles, all of which have come in games in which she comes off the bench. Brandon was one board shy of a double double against Stanford in the Pac-10 Tournament Semifinal with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
SCORING MILESTONES Two Cal players are flirting with making it to significant scoring milestones. Senior guard Natasha Vital comes into the game with 986 career points, 14 points shy of becoming the 21st player in Cal history to score 1,000 career points.
Alexis Gray-Lawson has 1,882 points, 118 shy of 2,000, giving her an outside chance of becoming the third player in Cal history to cross the 2000 point mark. Gray-Lawson was the 9th player in Cal history to cross the 1500 point threshold.
FRESHMAN REPORT CARD The Cal freshman have more than held their own in the Conference this season. DeNesha Stallworth, a Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection, is averaging 12.3 points per game. Only one other freshman, Davellyn White of Arizona (15.7 ppg) has scored more points this season. Stallworth is the top freshman in shooting efficiency, ranking sixth overall with a 48.7 field goal percentage. Stallworth is third among freshmen in blocked shots. She has 35 this season, ranking her ninth among all Pac-10 players. Freshman Carly Noyes of Washington State leads the Conference with 57.
Gennifer Brandon, who ranks seventh overall in rebounding in the Pac-10 this season, is the top freshman in rebounds per game, averaging 7.8. Markel Walker of UCLA is right behind her at 7.4 boards per game. Brandon was an honorable mention for the all-freshman team.
Freshman guard Eliza Pierre is third among Pac-10 freshmen in steals, averaging 1.9 per game. She was the only Pac-10 freshman to earn a spot on the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team.
CHARITABLE WORKS There is still time for fans to sign up for this season's We Assist, You Assist Promotion. Fans can pledge money per assist made by the team this season. The donations, which will be matched up to $10,000 by head coach Joanne Boyle, will benefit the UCSF Foundation and their research efforts on Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) Reseach. ARVD is a genetic disease in which the muscle tissue in the lower-right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) degenerates and is replaced by fat. As a result, patients can develop dangerous abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or even go into cardiac arrest, particularly when under physical or emotional stress. It is the disease that freshman guard Tierra Rogers was diagnosed with in September.
The Bears used part of the proceeds from their annual Shooting Shirts Auction to go to the UCSF Foundation. Coach Boyle and Tierra Rogers shirts raised $600 for the cause. Another $1500 was raised during the auction that went to benefit Berkeley Food and Housing.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WNIT The first post-season WNIT Tournament was held in 1969. It originally began as an eight-team tournament and also did not originally have today's single-elimination format. The old version of the tournament was held annually in Amarillo, Texas, from 1969 through 1996. Cal made four appearances in this version of the WNIT, going 0-3 in 1979 to finish eighth of the eight teams, 1-2 in 1981, finishing in fourth place, 2-1 in 1984, finishing fifth, and 2-1 in 1987 when they were the runners-up.
After the 1996 WNIT, the tournament was eliminated.
In 1998, after going one post-season without a WNIT, the tournament re-emerged with a couple of major changes. Instead of being played in Amarillo, the Tournament was now played at host sites of tournament participants. The tournament was also expanded. In 1998, it consisted of 16 teams. From 1999 to 2005, it was a 32-team tournament. In 2006, there were 40 school and 2007 was the first year with 48 participants. The 2010 tournament will be the first post-season WNIT to have a field of 64 schools.
This is California's first invitation to the WNIT since it's reemergence in 1998.
The field of the Tournament includes 31 automatic births and 33 at-large teams. California is an at-large bid. USC was the Pac-10As the top-finisher from the Pac-10 who did not receive an NCAA Tournament invitation, Cal earned an automatic berth in the Tournament.
First round seeding is determined by strength of teams with the top teams hosting the weaker teams in the opening round. Teams from the same Conference will not play in the first round and the tournament tries to avoid scheduling two teams who played during the regular season during the first round. A strong emphasis on location and playing geographically convenient teams is given in this tournament.
All of the tournament games will be played at participating school sites and only the Championship Game will be televised. Audio broadcasts of all of Cal's tournament games will be streamed on CalBears.com.